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Stop wearing out your snooze button

Did you press the snooze button this morning ... maybe even more than once?

Maybe you had time to sleep in or just felt so tired and “out of it” that you couldn’t believe it was already time to get up.

If this is your daily reality, here’s how you can hit the ground running every morning without pressing the snooze button ever again. You’ll wake up refreshed and full of energy to start your day.

Years ago, my husband was annoyed by me pressing the snooze button multiple times before dragging my butt out of bed. Not having energy to start my day (and still wanting a nap after lunch), I was miserable! And the daily “energy crash” at 4 p.m. was even worse! When you feel like this, it’s easy to understand why sleep deprivation is used as a torture tactic.

Your life and everything you do depends on energy, and your daily energy is run by your circadian rhythm. You use energy with each task and just by being alive. You get more energy through the food you eat. That’s why nutrient-dense food is so important.

If you’ve ever noticed that you tend to feel energized and tired around the same times every day, you have your circadian rhythm to thank. It’s basically your 24-hour internal clock that’s running your sleep/wake cycle in the background.

For most adults, the biggest dip in energy happens in the middle of the night (somewhere between 2 and 4 a.m.) or just after lunchtime (between 1 and 3 p.m.). If you’re sleep-deprived or eating low-nutrient foods, you’ll feel these dips and rises a lot more than if you’re eating nutrient-dense food and all caught up on sleep. The kicker is they both play off each other because you’ll usually have more restful sleep when you are eating right and you’re more likely to make healthy food choices when you’re sleeping well.

The standard American diet consists of refined sugar and flour, very little protein and too few vitamins and minerals, and this has a huge negative impact on your circadian rhythm.

The key to breaking this cycle is feeding your body at regular intervals (with high-nutrient foods). For us “regular folks” that aren’t training for the Olympics, this means spacing meals every three to four hours to maintain a healthy blood sugar throughout your day. Eating whole foods at this interval will set your circadian rhythm up for success.

Getting your meal timing working for you is an essential step in caring for your circadian rhythm. It’s important for sustaining your health, well-being and looking and feeling your best. Once you get this on track, you should notice that you are more alert, in a better mood and have more energy in just a week or so.

If you don’t see great results, you could be dealing with some hormonal imbalances or additional digestive issues that need to be separately addressed by a health care practitioner.

Remember, don’t be discouraged by small, incremental improvements. Be patient because optimal health comes from consistent baby steps. Make it a healthy week!

Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield. She can be reached at 444-2122 or fran@fransutherlin.com.