Sleep is for grandmas; you will sleep when you die; sounds familiar? I laughed at people who think that sleep is so important because you can still get very little rest and keep going when you are young. But with the time you realize that sleep is like a credit card, and if you miss a payment or pay late, your interest rates can change and skyrocket.
Lucky me, I understood the importance of proper rest fast enough to take sleep as a serious business. I strongly recommend you do that the same!
Let’s get started!
Why do we need sleep?
“Sleep helps the body repair, regenerate, and recover.”
Why? Because sleep is an active period in which necessary processing, restoration, and strengthening occur. Our body needs sleep to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones. Without it, we can’t function mentally or physically. Getting adequate rest may also help prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and increased illness duration.
In humans, lack of sleep leads to impaired memory and reduced cognitive abilities, and, if the deprivation persists, mood swings and even hallucinations. Sounds like fun, ha?
Let’s go straight to the tips!
1. Avoid Caffeine After 2 p.m.
During the day, this is the first thing you can do to improve your sleep quality! Just keep in mind that this also includes other beverages and foods with caffeine, such as chocolate, tea and sodas.
- It takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated.
- Caffeine messes with your circadian clock (a key regulator of daily sleep-wakefulness timing).
- It also reduces the amount of deep sleep (crucial for your body).
- Stimulates the production of adrenaline and race your heart rate (keeping you alert and making it hard to relax)
Solutions: Go, decaf! And keep enjoying your drinks.
2. Avoid late evening exercise
While 30 minutes of daily physical activity can improve your sleep, doing it too close to bedtime could have the opposite effect.
- It raises your body temperature (which should remain lower close to bedtime).
- Speeds up your heart rate, and stimulates your nervous system (making it hard to relax and feel asleep)
Solutions: Do your workout 3 hours before bedtime and opt for light yoga or stretching movements in the evening. (keep in mind, everyone’s different, and for some people, late-day exercise isn’t an issue)
3. Avoid big meals before bedtime
While eating foods containing tryptophan could add to the relaxation and even have sleep-promoting effects (studies have been too diverse, short to lead to firm conclusions), Eating food too close to bedtime can ruin your sleep.
- A large meal immediately before going to bed will not give the digestive system adequate time to rest.
- You may wake up with heartburn or indigestion.
- Eating too close to bedtime may actually harm your sleep and decrease the amount of deep sleep you get.
- Big meals elevate your metabolism and resting heart rate before bed, damaging your sleep.
Solutions: Avoid big meals for at least two hours before bedtime. Consume most of your calories earlier in the day, so your digestive system can also take a break.
4. Avoid blue lights
In the morning, the blue light helps us feel alert and awake, and not getting enough blue light during the day can negatively affect your sleep and mood. But late evening exposure will damage your eyes and rest.
The worst blue light is these found in LEDs, screens, electronic devices, and fluorescent lighting.
- It suppresses melatonin the hormone in charge to tell your brain when is time to sleep.
- It tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime.
- Artificial light can mask the signals that would otherwise tell your brain to prepare for sleep.
Solutions: Avoid screens an hour before bedtime. If you must be online, block the blue light from your computer and phone to minimize the damage; here are two links to help you do that!
https://iristech.co/ and https://blog.humanos.me/a-new-product-to-significantly-reduce-jet-lag/ Another option is to use blue blockers glasses, here the once I use https://truedark.com/
5. Take time to unwind
After a long day, it is crucial to let work and stress behind you. Most importantly, try to resolve your worries and concerns before bedtime to help your body and mind switch to a sleep mode.
- When you don’t take time to relax, you might find it hard to calm your thoughts and lay awake at night. Worrying about your finances, relationship, work or whatever else it will damage your sleep.
- With no time to wind down at the end of your day, your body forgets, which is rest time and time for action.
Solutions: Engage in relaxing activities outside the bedroom, such as taking a bath with Epsom salts (magnesium), meditation or reading.
In other words, what is done is done now; let it go!
Good night sleep is as essential as a healthy diet and lifestyle. Poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite, impair brain function, and even link to inflammatory bowel diseases and can increase your risk of disease recurrence.
Adequate rest is one of the pillars of health, and you cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep!