Winter has ended, the sun is shining more, and the air is warmer - but if you're not sleeping enough or your sleep quality is lacking, your body is going to feel it.
We KNOW sleep is vital for longevity as this is clearly backed by science so naturally optimizing sleep is part of the game plan for every one of our functional medicine patients.
Optimal sleep keeps the visceral fat off, prevents metabolic syndrome, reduces inflammation, improves cognition, and even reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. If you're wanting to improve your aesthetic game, you'd be interested to know that during sleep, your skin's blood flow increases, and the organ rebuilds its collagen and repairs damage from UV exposure, reducing wrinkles and age spots.
So, if you're awake in bed in the middle of the night, all-too aware of the fact that the clock is ticking, it's high time to do something about it.
Sleepless nights can be incredibly frustrating, but there are many things you can do to help yourself fall asleep naturally—all backed by sound scientific research. You CAN improve the quality of your sleep and recharge this spring with these five tips.
1) REGULATE YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
Our bodies have an internal clock that is regulated by the rising and setting of the sun, referred to as the circadian rhythm. When it's light outside, our bodies receive the internal signal to be awake and active. As the sun sets, we receive the internal signal that it is time to rest.
Interestingly, everything from staying up late to eating a poor diet can mess with the circadian rhythm.
To get our best sleep, it's important to stay in sync with the body's natural rhythm. The more regular your sleep, the better regulated your circadian rhythm will be.
So, try to get up and go to bed at the same time each day. When you wake up, make sure to get some morning sun which will also help regulate your circadian rhythm. Since sunlight contains the blue wavelength of light, it communicates to our brain that it’s daytime. It also increases melatonin in your body at night, which also helps you to sleep at night.
Keeping a normal sleep schedule will help you stay in harmony with your body's internal clock, encouraging your body to fall asleep naturally.
2) EXERCISE EVERY DAY
Even if it’s only a short walk around the block, or using hand weights as you watch television, make sure you’re getting some form of physical activity each day. Exercise helps to tire the body so that you fall asleep faster when it's time to sleep.
While any consistent exercise is good, aerobic exercise is most associated with improving deep sleep.
Be careful not to do vigorous exercise near bedtime since that might make it harder to fall asleep. Allow at least an hour or two between your exercise session and when you plan to sleep.
3) LIMIT TECH USE
Limit technology for an hour before bedtime. If you're reading, which is a great thing to do before bedtime, use a paper book.
Electronic devices like iPads, smartphones and computers emit blue light. This can be problematic before bed because blue light interferes with melatonin production, causing the brain to think it is still daytime.
If you must use your devices, wearing blue-blocking lenses about 90 minutes before bedtime or using an app on your device that blocks blue light can help reduce your exposure to blue light.
4) KEEP YOUR BEDROOM COOL
The body's core temperature naturally drops at night. Studies have shown that cooling down prior to bed helps you fall asleep more quickly.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the best temperature for your bedroom is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, Anything warmer (or colder) could keep you awake.
Set your bedroom’s thermostat to a comfortable temperature in this range – the coolness will help your body relax and stay asleep.
5) DON'T EAT LATE AT NIGHT
A large body of evidence suggests that meal timing has many important effects on our body's functioning, including that circadian rhythm. our sleep-wake cycle.
Researchers suggest meal timing is one of the ways that our body sets its sleep-wake cycle. When we eat at the wrong times, it can throw our internal timekeeping mechanism awry, wreaking havoc on our sleep patterns.
In fact, several studies have found a link between eating late dinners or eating more calories late in the evening and short sleep duration (less than five hours). Try to finish your meals 3 hours prior to sleep. And if you must eat, keep it light.
Suffering from poor sleep will inevitably hurt your health - both in the short term and long term. Try our tips and recharge this spring to improve your sleep habits and watch your physical and mental well-being improve!