That’s quite the list of some scary problems. Since you’re on my holistic nutrition site, I’m guessing you’re more of the mindset of taking a preventative approach to health. So let’s look at a 5 easy peasy things you can do, starting TODAY, to help you get a better night’s sleep so you can wake up feeling like your badass self.
1. Prioritize an Earlier Bedtime
This is NOT rocket science, but it’s really hard to fudge the numbers on this one. If you need to be up and getting ready for work by 6:00am, going to bed at 1:00am every night is not going to cut the mustard.
Maybe your mom once told you that every hour of sleep before midnight counts as two hours! While I can’t scientifically validate this, your wise ol’ mamma may have been on to something. By getting to bed by 10pm, you’ll be working with your body’s biology and natural circadian rhythm, as your natural melatonin levels (ie: your sleep hormone) are at their optimal level between 10:00pm-1:00am, and your cortisol levels (your hormone that wakes you up in the morning) are at their lowest. Missing this optimal sleep-window because you’re binge watching Making a Murderer is sure to sabotage your chances of waking up feeling rested and ready to tackle the day.
If you’ve been a night owl your whole life, then suddenly switching bedtimes from 2am to 10pm may seem a little strange. You may find yourself lying in bed staring at the ceiling for hours, which can be very frustrating. Instead, I recommend incrementally working your way towards your earlier bedtime.
How to do it:
Start with just going to bed 30 minutes earlier each night. You don’t even have to fall asleep right away, but just get used to shifting your nighttime routine to be earlier and earlier, and get comfortable with being in bed. Soon you’ll appreciate the extra “me” time you get by going to bed early, and eventually you’ll find it easier and easier to fall asleep.
2. Make Your Bedroom an Electronics-Free Zone
Have you ever dropped your iPad on your face when playing Kwazy Cupcakes in bed? Keeping your electronics out of your bedroom, or at the very least your bed, will not only prevent any future iPad-induced black eyes, but also greatly improve the quality of sleep you’re getting each night. Modern research (check it here & here) is showing how frequent use of electronic devices in the evening is leading to an increase in sleep disturbances.
Why does using an electronic device at bedtime disrupt your sleep? It all comes down to the colour temperature of light. It may be hard to notice with the naked eye, but light has a colour temperature. Daylight tends to have a cooler, bluer colour temperature. This blue light helps signal our bodies to create the correct hormones to keep us awake during the day. Lights that we tend to use in our home often have a warmer or more amber colour temperature to them, somewhat resembling the light emitted from a candle. This warmer, amber light helps signal our bodies to start winding down and preparing for sleep. However, when we throw an electronic device such as an e-reader, iPad, cellphone or computer into the mix, which all emit blue light, we confuse the body and disrupt the natural rhythm of our sleep hormones, suppressing melatonin, and potentially diminishing the quality of our sleep.