A decent night of shut-eye can be hard to come by. With sleep rating highly on the pyramid of health alongside nutrition and exercise, disrupted sleeping patterns can negatively impact your hormones, brain function and physical performance. So, if for whatever reason you’re struggling to hit the Z’s for the recommended 7-9 hours, take some time now to learn how you can get a better night’s sleep.
Increase bright light exposure during the day
Keep your circadian rhythm in sync by exposing your body to natural light and bright light during the daytime hours. In people with insomnia, this study found bright light exposure reduced waking time during sleep by an hour and improved sleep efficiency from 77.5% to 90% without changing the amount of time spent in bed.
Limit blue light exposure in the evening
Blue light from electronic devices, smart phones, and laptops can impact your circadian rhythm by suppressing your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for making you feel relaxed and sleepy. When you expose yourself to blue light at night, your body is fooled into feeling awake and alert when it should be winding down in preparation for bed. Make a conscious effort to reduce your screen time 2-hours before bed, try wearing blue light blocking glasses, and install blue light blocking software on all tech devices.
Avoid caffeine later in the day
This one should be a no-brainer. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and causes extreme alertness, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve when you go to bed. Caffeine remains elevated in your bloodstream for up to 6-8 hours, and this study found that consuming caffeine up to 6-hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality. So, do the maths and make sure your last brew is outside that window.
Take a melatonin supplement
A hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland in the brain, melatonin controls the body’s night and day cycles, including sleeping and waking patterns. As day turns to night, generally the body produces melatonin to signal to the body that it’s time for sleep. If the body is exposed to too much light, melatonin production is stalled. The good news is that melatonin can be taken as a supplement to help decrease sleep onset latency, increase total sleep time and improve sleep quality. Organise your Stagger melatonin subscription here.
Optimise your sleeping environment
You can’t comfortably fall asleep in an environment that isn’t set up for the purpose of sleep. External noise is a common cause of sleep disturbance that can lead to long-term health issues. And a high bedroom temperature can affect two of the restorative cycles of sleep; the slow wave sleep (SWS) cycle and rapid eye movement (REM) cycle. To optimise your sleeping environment, try to minimise lighting and noise pollution, set the air con or fan to a comfortable temperature, and ensure the space is relaxing and tidy.
Skip the long afternoon nap
Taking a nap during the day can throw a real spanner in the works of your circadian rhythm and make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. By all means, indulge in a short 20-minute nap, it’s the longer naps you need to be cautious of. Many people reported feeling sleepier and less productive after long daytime naps.
Maintain a sleep schedule
The human body is a creature of habit. In fact, circadian rhythm enforces this. It loops on a 24-hour cycle, aligning the body with sunrise and sunset. If you really want to know how you can get a better night’s sleep, try tuning into that cycle through consistent rise and sleep times. Irregular sleeping patterns are linked to poorer sleep quality and altered levels of melatonin. So, the solution is simple; set daily alarms and follow them for a few weeks until your body finds its natural rhythm.
This blog is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your medical practitioner.