John came to us when the wheels fell off…
He thought he was doing everything right, but his Ulcerative Colitis was flaring again, blood and all.
But his usual symptoms were back, leaving him desperate to avoid another agonizing flare.
We figured it out during a 15-min call together. He wasn’t getting any sleep… 4, maybe 5 hours a night was all…
His flare was never going to end as long as he wasn’t getting any sleep.
Today, I’m going to share 7 simple ways you can get better sleep tonight and support your body’s natural ability to heal… the same 7 techniques I shared with John.
Because Poor Sleep Directly Impacts Your Digestion
The #1 way to ruin your digestion – and ruin your healing – is to get a bad night’s sleep. A few too many bad nights of sleep in a row triggers a cascade of health problems… in fact, here’s a list of some of the more damaging health effects of sleep deprivation:
- Poor immune system: just modest sleep loss weakens the immune system’s response to disease.
- Brain Function: sleep deprivation negatively impacts both short-term and long-term memory. It also affects our ability to think clearly and function well.
- Mental health: just a few nights of poor sleep is associated with depression, anxiety, and increased stress response.
- Inflammation: sleep deprivation causes chronic, low-grade inflammation, the most important condition we’re trying to cool down..
Sleep is very important for how you feel and how fast your body can heal. Simply waking up frequently during the night or only sleeping for a few hours is the fastest way to derail your recovery efforts.
I used to fall into a pattern of thinking that went like this: “I’ll catch up on my sleep tomorrow night or sleep in this weekend.”
Ever had thoughts like that?
Then, I realized how this mindset messes with my digestion in a bad way. After living that lifestyle for a few months my whole life came crashing down. I started losing my health, my happiness, and became a very nasty person to be around… my old gut symptoms were creeping back in.
That period in my life hurt my family and triggered awful bathroom sessions all over again.
It boiled down to this:
I wasn’t taking responsibility for my health because I was neglecting my sleep.
You may be thinking, “Don’t start preaching to me about going to bed earlier!”
You’re right, I won’t.
Instead, I’ll tell you that it’s much more important to get better quality sleep when you’re already in bed. That’s the first step to avoid a bad night’s sleep.
Quality Sleep is More Important than Quantity
If you’re getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night, it’s time to shift your focus to the quality. There’s no doubt a few more hours every night would solve this problem, but if it’s poor quality sleep that’s not necessarily true.
When you get deep, restful sleep not only do you feel better, but you lower inflammation and boost your immune system. Both of which are going to help your digestive system stay in top shape.
If you use these 7 steps tonight, you’ll immediately take charge of your sleep and allow your body to get the best quality sleep possible… even if you have little ones or struggle with aches and pains that keep you up at night.
- Black Out Your Room – No lights at all. Cover your windows with blankets and tape if you don’t have good curtains. Put a shirt over any small lights (like your phone or computer). Your internal energy (circadian) rhythms are set and governed by light… so sleeping with ANY lights on in your room messes with your quality of sleep.
- Move Your Phone – Plug your phone in away from your bed. It’s disrupting your sleep with both light and the distraction of texting/email. Move it somewhere far away… it will be there in the morning 🙂
- Set the temperature: Research shows that most people sleep better when the air temperature in the room is between 65-70 degrees F. A room that’s too hot can cause you to wake up frequently and get dehydrated from sweating. If you’re someone who thinks 65-70 degrees F might be like sleeping in the snow, wear some socks to bed and you’ll feel just fine.
- No More Snoozing – Move your alarm clock across the room. When the alarm goes off I want you to have to get out of bed and feel the new day on your skin before you turn off your alarm. No more snoozing. It’s not helpful to keep waking up every five minutes. Set the time and commit to getting up then by forcing yourself to get out of bed to turn it off.
- Before bed, clear your head: Think about anything that’s unfinished and bouncing around in your head. Then, write the top three things that you’re going to get done tomorrow on a “To Do” list and release them for the night. You’ll get to them in the morning, so give yourself permission to clear your head and relax. It WILL help you get better sleep…
- Take a dose of Magnesium: It’s one of the vitamins you’ll see many people recommending now and there’s a reason for that. It’s getting harder to get enough magnesium through the food we eat because of soil depletion and toxins in the environment. Among other benefits, it’s a relaxant and can help you calm down and get to sleep at night. I like Original Unflavored Natural Calm or this Magnesium Glycinate.
- Track your sleep: Don’t put all this effort to waste. There’s one fool-proof gadget for sleep that I’d recommend. It’s called, “The Zeo Personal Sleep Manager.” It’ll completely change how you view sleep, with brilliant charts helping you find ways to get better sleep. It can also wake you up at the scientifically proven moment that’s best for your sleep cycles (as engineers, we geek out on stuff like this).
Sleep is the Most Basic Need for Your Body AND Your Brain
Want to know a huge reason that most people feel less stressed on vacation? Because they sleep longer…
I can’t guarantee a great night of sleep will prevent another flare, but I can tell you a great night of sleep gives my body the tools to stay healthy.
Most of these steps don’t cost any money (only a bit of planning), but together they can quickly improve the quality of your sleep, which will in turn improve your health, energy, and stress level.
The majority of people that are successfully managing their IBD have great sleep habits. That’s the plain and simple truth of it.
Do what you can to improve the sleep you’re already getting and you’ll start feeling more rested and refreshed by the end of the week, giving you the strong mind and body it takes to recover from IBD.
Test one of these steps tonight and leave a comment with your experience.
P.S. – Don’t get me wrong, going to bed and sleeping longer helps too. Try starting a “10 PM bed time club” in your house for one week and see how it goes 🙂