We hope you enjoyed our blog video on sleep and the benefits of prepping and monitoring for quality sleep. It’s hard to underestimate the value of a good nights sleep! Here are some additional ways to help improve your ‘sleep hygiene’. Consider using these tips in chronological order and hopefully they’ll set you up for a good, high quality night of restorative sleep!
It’s hard to underestimate the value of a good nights sleep!
Listen to Your Circadian Rhythm
Try to get exposed to natural light in conjunction with frequent low intensity exercise to balance energy patterns. This means paying attention to the ‘active and alert’ period of the day when there's natural light available, and the 'rest, relax and unwind' phase to after sundown. Discordance of natural light and dark cycles can influence multiple factors associated to illness, pain and inflammation.
In addition, try to avoid eating too late into the evening as an active metabolism can poorly influence the specific hormones and immune support processes that occur when you sleep (however, some experts recommend that small serving of MCT oil, specific amino acids like glycine or a collagen protein powder can positively influence a good night’s sleep. See below for other supplements that may be worth looking into). In addition to eating, intense exercise also can spike stress hormones too close to the sleeping phase to allow the body to enter deep sleep and REM sleep patterns in the ideal manner. Although this can be very 'experiment of one', general recommendations suggest avoiding both eating and intense training within 2-3 hours of ‘lights out'.
Avoid Blue Light Before Bed
Try to avoid bright lights and digital devices within the last couple of hours before sleep. Light absorbing cells in your retina send information to the suprachaismatic nucleus (SCN), a small region in the brain, which governs our circadian rhythm. This ‘instructs’ the body to cue energy for daytime or start the process of prepping for sleep when it’s dark. Blue light interferes with that message and can disrupt the hormones needed to cue sleep. This is a particularly big issue in the modern age of Netflix, internet, and handheld devices. For adults and children alike, we need to take steps to lower risk factors of disregulated sleep which can relate to a myriad of chronic issues from weight gain, and blood sugar disregulation, to memory loss and stress. This can be helped by either shutting off unnecessary lights in your home or equip certain rooms with bulbs that emit low blue light wavelengths, adjust your handheld devices to night shift mode, or use f.lux app to alter the light emissions from your computer/phone/tablet.
Blue Blocker Glasses
Use blue light blocking glasses to support melatonin release once the sun is down. Yes, they are a bit nerdy looking but can make a huge difference! We have tried them ourselves and while some of us didn’t notice much of a difference, others noted definite improvement in sleep quality. Like many things, its a individualized trial to see. They needn’t be expensive and we found these on amazon to be simple and effective. A definite bonus is that they can help reduce the strain of staring at screens in general!
'Wind Down' Practice
Consider a ‘wind down’ practice of reading, journaling your day and thoughts, or breath work and mediation. By removing many of the influences that can over stimulate or create ‘chatter’ in your thoughts, this can help you fall asleep with more ease. These certainly take discipline to make a habit, but most will find a significant impact. There are great research driven changes seen in positive brain activity from these steps and the simplest approaches can be all that’s needed! Try a few of these intro practices and see how they do for you.
Aim to make the room you sleep in as dark as you can. This will mean removing digital objects like phones, TVs and tablets in addition to covering or hiding light emitting objects. Closed eyes still sense light easily and therefore it's important to cut as much light as possible! Our bodies’ photoreceptors (all over our body - not just in our eyes) can pick up light easily and this can pull us from sleep much like the sun coming up. Ambient light should also be reduced as much as possible. Blackout curtains are inexpensive and helpful to reduce light from city lamps and other buildings or houses. If curtains don’t work or a partner has different needs, think about an inexpensive light blocking sleep mask like this one.
To help optimize your sleep, keep the temperature down in your home when you sleep. Your core temperature should naturally drop through the night in various cycles of sleep which helps encourage repair. A higher body temperature can impact this and the room being too warm can easily throw this off. It’s recommended to set the temperature to between 16C-18C or 64F-68F. To some this may sound cold, but blankets can bundle us up when needed!
*Many of us don’t get sufficient amount of sleep but by using some of these tips, we can help to get things back on track!
Notable mentions of sleep supplements and sleep ‘hacks’;
Magnesium and Zinc
This is not only a building block for some of the hormones needed to sleep like tryptophan and melatonin, but also serves to help with influencing the effects of GABA (a neurotransmitter that helps to fall to sleep). Look for high absorbing magnesium such a citrate or glycinate. A popular and well known product is Natural Calm.
Passionflower or Valerian Root Extract
These can be taken as a tincture with water before bed and can assist the parasympathetic system (rest and digest branch of our autonomic nervous system) to calm us to sleep. We have personally tried this one with good success.
Starting to go a little on the fringe here, but we are currently testing these now. A modern day mat of small spikes that engage acupressure points found in chinese practice, that can help to release endorphins (morphine like chemicals made and produced in the body) like dopamine, oxytocin and GABA which can help resolve pain and induce calm and sleep. One study reported that 94% of the study participants noted improved sleep quality. We think it’s worth a shot. Here is a link to one product and a cheaper one here!
As always, we’d love to hear any comments that you may have and definitely let us know if you have any questions! To keep up with blog posts, health tips, and upcoming events be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter!