Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Unfortunately, around 30% of us suffer from insomnia, the ability to stay asleep, or to achieve good, quality sleep. Research now shows that poor sleep quality, especially on a chronic basis, has negative effects on our hormones, brain function, and can lead to weight gain and decreased cognitive function. In contrast, good sleep quality and quantity helps us eat less, improve our ability and motivation to exercise, and strengthen our immune system. If we want to optimize our health and wellness, then getting good quality ZZZ’s is crucial.
Our bodies rely on our internal time clock known as our circadian rhythm. Getting natural light first thing in the morning and during the day can not only improve our daytime energy, but assist with better sleep, as this helps to keep our hormones (Cortisol and Melatonin) in balance. Exposure to nighttime light, like the blue light from our electronics especially 1-2 hours before bed, can dramatically affect our ability to fall asleep. Blue light prevents the natural rise in Melatonin, which allows us to relax and fall asleep. And no, scrolling through your phone right up ‘til you go to bed and then popping a Melatonin supplement is NOT the same!
Here are some great tips for improved sleep quality:
• Try to have similar wake/sleep times each day as this creates a routine for your body.
• Get natural light first thing in the morning and during the day. This helps to regulate our hormones like Cortisol and Melatonin.
• Routine exercise is recommended but note that cardio late in the day or evening can cause a spike in Cortisol when it should be declining. A spike will make it more difficult to fall asleep.
• Skip that cup of Joe late in the day! Everyone metabolizes caffeine differently, but on average it can stay elevated in your blood for 6- 8 hours. Sorry to say, but that 4pm help-get-me-through-the afternoon latte may be contributing to your insomnia.