One of the most underrated facets of health, in my opinion, is sleep. It's not just about quantity or quality, but the two combined.
I have spent most of my dietetics career in obesity medicine and I've seen first hand the cycle of poor sleep/increase in weight/poorer sleep/further increase in weight can just wreck people.
Inadequate sleep puts stress on the body. A body in stress mode is more likely to want to retain weight- the primitive part of our brain still thinks like we are cavemen. Stress could mean we need to survive! Retain all the weight in case of famine!
You've probably heard we should get 8 hours of sleep. I don't want to say that's a myth, but it is a generality. Some need more, some need less. I'm someone who really needs a good 9 hours to feel my best. I wish I could get by on less, but you do not want to meet the sleep-deprived me (even well-rested, I'm marginally pleasant, haha). Within that stretch of time, we also have to get good quality sleep- the kind of sleep where you wake up and put your feet on the ground and think "YES, the tank is full!"
Because sleep hygiene is so important, I want to share a few easy things I use to help me get as good of a night's sleep as I can.
My garden lavender!
Just kidding. This is actually Russian Sage, which looks a lot like lavender and still smells so good. But let's pretend it's lavender, because lavender has been CLINICALLY SHOWN (yay, legit research!) to lend itself to relaxation in preparation to sleep.
Years ago I semi-splurged and bought some name brand lavender pillow spray. I liked it a lot but didn't want to commit to spending $20 every other month to replenish. Enter homemade pillow spray! Yes you'll need to buy the spray bottle (or reuse if you have a similar empty bottle of product) but it's pretty affordable when you break it down. I like the bottle kit I bought because it contains a tiny funnel- helpful when pouring the mixture!
Lavender Pillow Spray
1 small squirt bottle (mine is 4 oz)
1 tablespoon vodka (acts as a natural preservative)
10-15 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops of bergamot essential oil
6 tablespoons water (more or less depending on how much you need to fill your bottle)
Combine all the ingredients and pour into the spray bottle. Shake well before using. A few spritzes on your pillow and sheets will help set the mood for sleep and train your brain to calm down. I find that one bottle lasts 3 months and I use this stuff nightly.
In addition to using lavender spray, I swear by a silk pillowcase and silk eyemask. Even the tiny blue light on my fan can interrupt me as I'm trying to fall asleep, so a sleep mask is a must. The silk on the mask and my pillow keeps me feeling cool and doesn't give me imprint wrinkles (if you're not getting up there in age like me, you might not know what this is, ha!).
For more info on sleep hygiene, check out this article from Mayo Clinic. Enjoy your zzz's!