A good nights sleep is as important as regular exercise and healthy eating. Poor sleep has negative effects on the body’s hormone release and metabolism, brain function, energy levels, physical performance and tissue repair. In fact in recent decades sleep quality and quantity has declined.
1.Increase sunlight or bright light exposure during the day: This helps keeps your circadian rhythm or natural body-time clock healthy, thus can improve sleep quality and duration.
2.Reduce blue light exposure in the evening:
Night-time light exposure has the opposite effect, by tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime, thus reducing hormones like melatonin, which helps you relax and get deep sleep. Blue light is particularly bad in this regard, emitted from computers, smartphones & IPads. Methods for reducing this blue light:
Wearing blue lighter blocker glasses; Download an app, like f.lux to block blue light on computers & smartphones; and stop watching TV & turn off any bright lights 2 hours before going to bed.
3.No caffeine late in the Day:
Caffeine will stimulate your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night, worsening sleep. Caffeine can stay elevated in the blood for 6-8 hours! Try decaffeinated if you have to.
4. Reduce irregular or long daytime irregular naps:
“Power naps” (under 30 mins) are beneficial, but anything longer can confuse your body clock and you may struggle to sleep at night.
5.Consistent sleep and waking times:
Your body clock is on a set loop aligning with sunrise & sunset. Irregular sleep patterns & ‘night owl’ behaviour affects circadian rhythm & melatonin levels, signalling brain to sleep. So get a regular sleep/wake cycle, especially at weekends!
6.Don’t drink alcohol:
Alcohol at night can negatively affect your sleep and hormones. Known to cause of increase symptoms of sleep apnoea, snoring & disrupted sleep patterns. It also alters night-time melatonin production & decreases human growth hormone levels affecting many key functions like cell repair.
7.Optimise bedroom environment:
Eliminate external light & noise and making it a generally more relaxing environment will aid sleep. Well ventilated and not too hot will help. A clean, tidy bedroom will reduce stress before going to bed.
8.Set bedroom temperature:
Body & room temperature can profoundly impact sleep quality, as you may have experienced during summer or on holiday. Around 70°F or 20°C seems to be the most comfortable temperature for most people.
9.Don’t eat late:
Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to hormone disruption (tryptophan) and poor sleep. Eating a low-carb meal a few hours before bed may help sleep.
10.Relax and clear the mind in the evening:
Relaxation techniques like listening to music, taking a bath, reading a book, deep breathing and visualisation can be useful and even used to treat insomnia. Find what works best for you.
Paul Lacey- Registered Osteopath