Sleep is so important for so many reasons - better productivity and concentration, calorie regulation, greater performance, lower risk of heart disease and inflammation - for such a natural, helpful thing for the body to do, why do so many of us struggle with sleeping?
Here are my Top 5 Tips for Sleeping:
1️⃣ Light - Increase your exposure to light during the day and decrease it at night. Exposing yourself to light (especially natural light) during the day can help regulate your body's circadian rhythm. Be sure to turn your lights low or off before bed to keep melatonin production regular as well.
2️⃣ Get off your phone! The bluelight and the temptation of our smartphones is a huge factor why so many of us struggle to sleep. Try keeping your phone charging far away from you, and shut off any electronics that can make noise. If you don’t need to use it the next day, move the alarm clock too to avoid anxiety. Also make an effort to be off your phone for at least 30 minutes before bed.
3️⃣ Create a routine that your internal clock will learn - try to go to bed and wake up at relatively similar times, and do things before bed that trigger the body into knowing it’s time for sleep. I recommend having a cup of decaffeinated tea, reading a book, or meditating.
4️⃣ Get hot to get cool - It’s normal for us to be sleepier the colder it is - that’s because our body’s temperature naturally decreases as we sleep. Speed up the process by getting your body temperature cooler before sleep - this can be done by taking a hot, relaxing bath before bed. You can even use natural essential oils like lavender for relaxing.
5️⃣ It’s obvious why you should avoid caffeine before bed - but also try to avoid bigger meals and drinking before bed. Having a heavy meal before bedtime can cause indigestion that messes with your sleep. Also avoid drinking fluids close to bedtime to avoid bathroom trips, which can interrupt your sleep.
Bonus - No alcohol or smoking before bed! Alcohol and marijuana don’t aid in sleep, no matter how quickly they make you pass out.
🍷Alcohol - Alcohol is actually a sedative, so “knocking ourselves out” is not helping us sleep, but rather, sedate us. Being in a state of sedation actually turns off the firing of our brain cells - REM sleep has our cells firing and resting together throughout the night (rapid eye movement sleep). REM sleep, or dream sleep, provides many benefits and we suffer going for long periods without it. Alcohol can also trigger the “fight or flight” branch of the nervous system, waking you up more frequently during your night.
💨 Marijuana - Similarly to alcohol, regular marijuana use actually prevents us from experiencing REM which is not beneficial. While marijuana may help us fall asleep faster, the quickness in which we go to sleep does not correlate with *better* sleep. Additionally, while the THC in marijuana may be a sedative, CBD may actually keep us awake, having us wake up through the night just like alcohol. Of course, there are specific strains that may have more THC than CBD which could be helpful, but there are not enough studies to know how it affects REM over time.
The bottom line - alcohol and marijuana may help you crash, but they also cause you to skip REM which is so important for us to get each night.