| Jackie Trivino
It’s no surprise that this year has been stressful to say the least. Between the ever-changing landscape of life amidst COVID-19 and the new changes to how we work and live, taking care of our well-being is becoming more and more difficult.
As research has consistently shown us, getting enough quality sleep is crucial in maintaining a healthy physical and emotional well-being. Lack of sleep can throw our hormones out of balance, affect our body’s appetite, reduce our performance, and can even be detrimental to our immune system.
Getting better sleep, both in quantity and quality, should be a part of everyone’s New Year’s resolution! Here are a few ways to improve sleep:
Our bodies have a natural, internal clock called the circadian rhythm which helps our body and mind know when to stay awake and when to go to sleep. When we encounter bright or natural light, our body recognizes this as it being daytime and increases daytime energy.
Exposure to more light during the day can help balance the circadian rhythm for a more consistent sleep pattern and a more quality sleep. For those that find increasing natural light exposure more difficult (i.e weather, location, etc.), investing in an artificial bright light or a natural light device will help boost the body’s daylight needs.
Although bright or natural light is beneficial for our body’s circadian rhythm’s daytime needs, having bright light exposure at night will have a negative effect.
Since our bodies see light as a signal for daytime, your body will act accordingly and maintain your brain alert and reduce your body’s production of the hormone melatonin, which helps you relax and wind down for sleep.
Electronics like computers, tablets, and phones emit a blue light which contributes to the excess light our body gets at night - preventing quality sleep. Some ways to cut down on blue light exposure from devices include wearing glasses that block blue light, setting a blue light blocker on all electronic devices, and stopping any electronic usage and bright lights at least 2 hours before sleep.
The environment where we sleep is also important in contributing to the quality of sleep we get. These environmental factors that exist in our bedrooms play a huge role into one’s sleep quality.
Loud noises, unnecessary light, temperature, and even clutter can cut into one’s sleep and working to eliminate these negative factors can help create a relaxed and calm place for you to unwind and boost melatonin levels.
Many of us have experienced summer nights where the hot temperatures made it uncomfortable to sleep, and the same can occur with cold winter nights. Keeping your bedroom temperature at a comfortable level can help the body feel more relaxed. A temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit is considered an ideal temperature for most to feel cozy and relaxed, although your ideal temperature can vary.
Finding the right temperature for your comfort level may take a few nights of trial and error, but once you find that sweet spot, you’ll no doubt feel the difference.
There are times where our bodies find it difficult to sleep - regardless of external factors. There are several natural supplements available that can aid our body for sleep.
Our body naturally produces a hormone called melatonin, which works to put the body into a sleeping state. One way to increase our body’s production of melatonin is taking a melatonin supplement - building up on the melatonin production and helping to induce sleep. Starting off with a low dosage of melatonin and increasing when necessary is a great way to improve sleep quality - without the side effects of prescription drugs.
Another natural supplement that has been proven to help with relaxation and reduce anxiety is CBD. CBD, or cannabinoids, is a naturally occurring compound found in hemp or cannabis and studies have found it to contain anti-inflammatory qualities which can help reduce bodily pains, reduce stress and anxiety, and can support mental health by easing depression symptoms. CBD is becoming more widely available in natural supplement stores, online retailers and CBD specific stores. For those looking for a natural combination of both melatonin and CBD, there are Sleep Chews available online that combine both supplements that ensure users a great night of sleep and a more refreshed feeling awake.
There are several reasons why liquid made it to the list - the main liquids to focus on are water, caffeine, and alcohol.
Over 90% of the US population consume caffeine throughout the day and with it’s stimulating features that help consumers become more alert, more focused, and help with performance, it’s no wonder why so many consume it. However, consuming too much caffeine or consuming it too late in the day can hinder the body from relaxing and naturally fall asleep at night.
It’s important for those that consume any beverage with caffeine like coffee, soda, and energy drinks, to consume it early in the morning so that it can pass through the body naturally in time for sleep. Caffeine can stay in the system for around 6-8 hours so consuming caffeine is not recommended after 3-4pm to help stop it’s stimulating effects before bed.
Another liquid that affects our body’s sleep patterns is alcohol. Studies have shown that alcohol reduces our body’s production of melatonin and disrupts with our circadian rhythm. Although alcohol is known to make people pass out from over-consumption, the state of sleep that alcohol produces isn’t one that is of quality and most feel more tired after a night of drunken sleep. If you are going to consume alcohol, be sure to limit the amount. According to NIAAA, a standard drink contains 14g of alcohol which equates to 4 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer.
Lastly, water can also disrupt with sleep. Although water is such a vital component for our health, consuming a large quantity of water before bed can cause your body to wake up to urinate in the middle of the night. Having to use the bathroom during the night cuts into sleep time, quality, and can come with a chance of having a hard time falling back asleep.
One way to eliminate this possibility would be to not drink water any time after an hour before bed and to use the bathroom before going to sleep - reducing the chances of waking up during your sleep.
Sleep plays a key role in our overall health and external factors like stress and noise can make getting quality sleep a much more difficult task. Incorporating new routines, supplements, and natural tools into your daily regimen can help you achieve that much sought-after rest.