Methods of Improving Sleep
Things blog was created to cover different methods for us to be able to create a better sleeping pattern for ourselves.
As we should know, sleep is vital for the health of our bodies. Unfortunately it is not seen as an important part of our lives. We value being busy or working instead of sleeping and giving our bodies time to rest. The more rest we give ourselves the less successful we seem, it is a 'waste of time'. Everyone is all about the hustle, but we need to realise that the hustle we go through can only be effective if we give ourselves the chance to rest and sleep. There are many benefits that come from sufficient sleep, it is vital for proper bodily functions, recovery of our body and it aids in weight loss (read importance of sleep blog to understand what sleep does for us).
What we need to know is that our bodies operate over a 24 hour cycle that regulates bodily processes and hormones to spike and fall at certain times of the day. Every tissue and organ works according to biological rhythms. This ensures that there is a periodicity with necessary biological processes and nothing over works or under works because everything has its place. Exposure to light can affect our circadian rhythm, natural or artificial. It is in our best interest to no disrupt this circadian rhythm as much as possible. If we do, there will be hormonal imbalance throughout our bodies.
To aid our health, we need to prioritise sleep. We will go through some methods we can implement to improve our sleep quality:
Sleep in complete darkness - darkness acts as a signal for our bodies that it is time to switch off and sleep. Even street lights can affect our sleep so make sure we close our curtains or shutters. Light can affect our bodies on a molecular level, we have no idea how much light can affect us. It is very important for us to create a dark environment so our body's circadian rhythm knows that it is night time and it is a time for rest. If we want to sleep with a night light, we should get a red night light, red light is less effective on our circadian rhythm as compared to morning light (blue light).
No screens 90 mins - 2 hours before bed - We expose ourselves to a lot of light before we try to sleep, we are always on our phones, tablets, computers or TV. These screen emit light that has similar wavelength as morning light called blue light. Staring at blue light will trick our bodies to thinking that it is still daytime and it isn't time for rest yet. When we wake in the morning, the natural morning light enters our eyes and signals our circadian rhythm that the day is starting again and hormones like cortisol rise temporarily to get us going. This morning light, 'blue light', suppresses melatonin production, which is the hormone that makes us tired. As the day goes on and sunlight goes down, melatonin production increases to get us ready for sleep and rest again. Since screens amit similar light, our bodies can't recognise night time, and so our melatonin production might be affected. This is why it is important for us to not use screens before bed.
Create a routine before bed - going off what we've been talking about, our bodies work in rhythm, so it is a good idea to create a routine that our bodies can recognise and work with. A routine before bed doesn't need to be too long or anything special. It can be as simple as reading a book before bed. The only rule of a routine before bed is that it CANNOT include a screen device. Do things that relax the body, let your body know it's time for rest. It could be things like reading a book before you sleep, maybe 15-20 mins of yoga as well to calm the body. We could add some meditation especially after a long day or write in a gratitude journal to relieve stress which can also help. You can aso pay and instrument or anything that relaxes you that doesn't include a screen.
Soak in some morning sunlight - as we said before, seeing the light produced by the sun (blue light) makes our bodies realise that it is morning and it is time to work. This way our bodies hormones can produce the right hormones to effectively get us through the day. Seeing morning light helps us keep our circadian rhythm in proper function and helps our biological functions stay in rhythm. You can have your morning tea or coffee outside instead, go for a morning walk or run (great way to get some exercise also). Do something that takes around 15 mins outside in the morning.
These are some ways in which we can improve our sleep. I hope that we all understand the importance of sleep in our lives and put a priority on it. These are some of the practices we could put in place in our daily lives to helps us sleep better and longer. We don't need to put all those techniques in place, we can pick and choose the ones that fit the best into our lifestyles. I hope we can all see and feel the difference after we implement some of these techniques.