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Another pandemic holiday has come and gone- with so many changes in our day to day, it's no surprise that our sleep patterns have followed suit.If, like many of us, you are emerging from the festive season discombobulated and not knowing what day it is, then have no fear! We have compiled some tried and trusted tips to get you to the best sleep of your life! Despite all the changes happening in our daily routines, you deserve to go into 2022 well-rested. After all, the best cure for that post-holiday daze will always involve a good night’s sleep.
1. Increase bright light during the day and decrease blue light at night
Over the past few decades, sleep quality and quantity has decreased, with more people finding they cannot get a good night’s sleep. Blue light emitted from electronic devices is a huge factor. Each of us has an internal alarm clock known as our circadian rhythm. It affects your brain, body and hormones, determining when we stay awake and when we go to sleep.
Natural sunlight or bright light during the day keeps us energized during the day, and improves our sleep quality and duration at night- in other words, it keeps our circadian rhythm healthy. A study in older adults found that 2 hours of bright light exposure during the day increased the amount of sleep by 2 hours and sleep efficiency by 80% (Fetveit, Skjerve, and Bjorvatn, 2003).
However, nighttime light exposure has the opposite effect- too much blue light exposure from our laptops, TVs, or phones tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime. This reduces the production of melatonin, an essential sleep hormone, and completely disrupts our circadian rhythm.
For a deeper and better sleep, try installing apps like f.lux, which block blue light exposure on your laptop, computer, or smartphone. Or, invest in a snazzy pair of blue light-blocking glasses. You can also wind down by shutting off any bright lights up to 2 hours before bed.
As for getting more daytime light, if you live in a place with little sunlight exposure, invest in an artificial bright light device or bulbs that specifically mimic daylight.
2. Switch out caffeine for chamomile
Yeah, we know. Like 90% of the US population, caffeine is probably your lifeblood. A single dose can enhance our memory, fous, and overall performance. But you may want to consider getting your coffee fix out of the way earlier on in the day.
Caffeine levels can stay elevated in our blood for 6-8 hours. One study found that consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bed significantly worsened quality of sleep (Drake, Roehrs, Shambroom, Roth, 2013). Thus, drinking that extra cup after 3-4pm is not recommended if you experience trouble sleeping. Instead, opt for decaf coffee or a calming, caffeine-free substitute like chicory root or chamomile tea.
3. Consistency is key
Your circadian rhythm is regulated by a set loop of when you wake and when you sleep. Therefore, being consistent with your sleeping times leads to a better sleep long-term. Irregular sleeping patterns can alter your melatonin levels, which signal your brain to sleep.
For better sleep quality, try to consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time. Try to eliminate all blue light up to two hours before bed. Developing a wind down routine that relaxes the senses (taking an epsom salt bath, a trusty skincare routine, marking your favorite caffeine- free drink, or journaling) is conducive to a better quality sleep. Make sure it’s a routine you actually enjoy and won’t put off!
Out of the various sleep supplements available on the market, melatonin is by far the most popular. That’s because melatonin is a key sleep hormone our brain produces, letting us know when it’s time for bed. In one study, taking 2mg of melatonin before bed helped people fall asleep faster and improved sleep quality and energy the next day (Lemoine, Laudon, Zisapel, 2007). If you live in a country where melatonin is sold over the counter, taking 1-5mg 30-60 minutes before bed is ideal. However, always start with a low dose to assess your tolerance and adjust if needed. Melatonin may alter your brain chemistry, so be sure to check in with your healthcare provider before use.
Other supplements may also help you relax and fall asleep faster. Some of these include:
- Ginkgo biloba: A natural herb with many benefits, it may aid sleep, relaxation, and stress reduction, but the evidence is limited. Take 250 mg 30–60 minutes before bed.
- Glycine: A few studies show that taking 3 grams of the amino acid glycine can improve sleep quality.
- Valerian root: Several studies suggest that valerian can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality. Take 500 mg before bed.
- Magnesium: Responsible for over 600 reactions within your body, magnesium can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality.
- L-theanine: An amino acid, L-theanine can improve relaxation and sleep. Take 100–200 mg before bed.
- Lavender: A powerful herb with many health benefits, lavender can induce a calming and sedentary effect to improve sleep. Take 80–160 mg containing 25–46% linalool.
5. It’s all about the Feng Shui
Believe it or not, how we arrange our bedrooms says a lot about the quality of sleep we get. External noise from traffic or construction can cause long-term health issues and poor sleep. Temperature, external lights can also be deterrents to a sound sleep. To optimize your bedroom environment, invest in light-cancelling blinds, and eliminate artificial lights from your alarm clock or phone. If noise is an issue, try ear plugs.
Furniture arrangement can also be conducive to a good night’s sleep. Ensure your sleeping abode is quiet, relaxing, and clean. Arrange your bed in a way that your head points southward for the best energy flow and sleep. Decorate and surround your bedroom with things that make you happy and uplift your spirit. The goal is to feel good and relaxed in the space you sleep in.
Regulating your room and body temperature can also regulate your sleep! We have all had our sleep disturbed by a hot Summer night or a room that was way too stuffy for our liking. One study revealed that bedroom air quality affected sleep more than external noise (Libert, Johnson, Ehrhart, Wittersheim, Keller, 1991). The ideal temperature varies on each person’s individual bodies and preferences, however around 70°F (20°C) seems to be optimal.
7. The right bedding is important!
If you’re wondering why you tend to get a better sleep in hotels, the answer is: having the right type of bedding can greatly improve your sleep! One study looked at the benefits of a new mattress over the course of 28 days- the results were that it reduced back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 60%, and back stiffness by 59%. It also improved sleep quality by 60% (Jacobson, Gemmell, Hayes, Altena, 2002).
Other studies have shown that new bedding can enhance sleep and that poor quality bedding can lead to poorer sleep and lower back pain long term (Jacobson, Wallace, Smith, Kolb, 2008). While types of mattresses and bedding come down to personal preference, linen is universally acknowledged as one of the most comfortable, durable, and breathable materials out there. This fabric keeps cool in the Summer and warm in the Winter, and will only get softer and more comfortable with wear. Its temperature-regulating qualities and breathability make it an ideal sleep aid. It is recommended you replace your bedding once every 5-8 years-get a head start and shop our linen bedding selection here!
8. No eating or drinking before bed!
Nocturnia is the medical term for excessive urination during the night. Although hydration is essential to good health, it is important to reduce your fluid intake in the evening (try not to drink at all 1-2 hours before going to bed). Too many liquids before bed may affect sleep quality and daytime energy, although some are more sensitive to this than others (Kehrel, 2004).
Similarly, eating too much before bed may affect our natural release of HGH and melatonin before bed (Jalilolghadr, Afaghi, O’Connor, Chow, 2011). That being said, the quality and type of snack you eat before bed affects your sleep differently. In one study, a high carb meal eaten four hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster (Afaghi, O’Connor, Chow, 2008). Contrastingly, another study revealed that a low-carb diet also improved sleep, indicating that carbs aren’t always necessary to get some good shut-eye (Afaghi, O’Connor, Chow, 2008).
To conclude, sleep plays a crucial role in our health and wellbeing. Insufficient sleep has been linked to an increased risk of obesity in 55% of adults and 89% of children (Cappuccio, Taggartt, Kandala, and others, 2008). Less than 7-8 hours of sleep a night increases one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease (Cappuccio, Cooper, D’Elia, Strazzullo, Miller, 2011). Getting sufficient sleep should therefore be a top priority. By employing the tips above, you can ensure that 2022 will be your most well-rested year yet. Sweet Dreams and a Happy New Year!