Sleep is so underrated. We live in a world which has completely denied us of the importance of sleep – we live in a society full of constant stimulation, artificial light, internet, food available 24 hours a day, shift work, expectations, bills to pay and dreams to fulfill – and all of this can come at a price, better known as sleep deprivation.
In Bent Formby’s book, Lights Out, he writes in his book ‘in Life magazine January 1998 edition states in an article that 70 million Americans finally admitted that, occasionally, we do fall asleep at the wheel, drop the ball, or take a dive. Sleep loss is the new American deficit’.
So why let sleep loss keep you up at night?
Sleep deprivation can cause us to gain weight, manifest disease and illness, accelerate aging, have us make stupid decisions we normally wouldn’t, effects and imbalances most of our hormones and disrupt the body’s natural need to clean, detoxify, recharge and recuperate. It’s as simple as – we all need sleep.
Sleep benefits include:
- Clearer thinking and decision making including improved memory
- Better response times
- Reduces stress and inflammation in the body
- It helps maintain a healthy weight by balancing hormones ghrelin and leptin.
- Reduces the risk of heart attack, heart disease, and cancer
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Helps your body recover to keep you looking youthful!
- Reduces inflammation – athletes and injured people – need even more sleep!
- Allows us to deal with stress better and handle what life throws our way
Most health professionals recommend anywhere between 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night, and to note, it’s the hours before midnight that is the most important. Sleep is a very well researched bodily function, and there are countless studies that have been executed on sleep, sleep patterns and sleep disorders alike. Let’s keep it simple here.
How to have a good nights sleep:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day – 10 pm to 6 am is a perfect sleep schedule!
- 1 – 2 hours before bed, try and switch off your brain by reading a non-fiction book, meditating, taking a hot bath with Epsom salts or doing something that is relaxing for you.
- Eliminate exercise and eating 3 – 4 hours before bed
- If you have a lot on your mind journalling can really support getting it out of your head and onto paper leading to a better nights sleep
- Caffeine is great for stimulation, increased focus and sports performance but can hinder sleep quality so avoid having caffeine after 12 pm
- Taper from liquids a few hours before bed, resulting in uninterrupted sleep.
- Alcohol may help you ‘pass out’ but it actually inhibits proper sleep and messes with our hormones, namely melatonin – our sleep-regulating hormone.
- Increase bright light exposure throughout the day – that means to get outside in the morning with no sunglasses on!
- Reduce blue light exposure in the evenings by eliminating screen time or using blue light blocking glasses.
Some bedroom biohacks:
- Your bedroom should be the place for deep fulfilling sleep and really good sex – that’s it!
- Eliminate light in the evening by investing in blackout curtains on your windows – artificial light can really lessen our sleep quality and even keep us awake.
- Create natural airflow in your room and help regulate temperature. Keep a window open or invest in a fan. Around 20 degrees seems to be comfortable for most. I personally like my room really cold.
- Eliminate noise by wearing earplugs or using a white noise machine.
- Invest in a proper mattress and pillow! You spend approx. 25 years of the average life span in bed – so get a mattress that supports your spine and a pillow that supports your neck and head!
- Invest in some lavender oil and diffuse 30 min before bed as it has calming and sedentary effects on the body.
Some supplements to help you sleep:
- Melatonin is the bomb (sadly its not available everywhere, but in North America, you can purchase it at the drug store. It is especially useful when trying to adjust to a new time zone as it helps reset the body’s circadian rhythms.
- Valerian root is great before bed. About 500mg is a perfect dose to take for most people.
- Magnesium is super crucial to our wellbeing and the body utilizes this mineral for over 600 reactions within the body. It improves relaxation and enhances sleep quality.
- The amino acid, L-theanine is also great for improving relaxation and sleep – take 100 – 200mg before bed.
Please note that by no means am I prescribing any of these supplements. Please speak with your health care professional prior to taking any supplements. If you are going to try out any of these supplements, do so one at a time to see which is most beneficial for you.
There you have it – now, off to sleep.