Adequate sleep is one of the most important aspects of living a healthy life. It helps us with many things including repairing and building muscle after exercise, improving memory and retaining things we have learned, curbing inflammation throughout the body, fighting off oncoming illness, regulating body weight and helping keep us from putting on body fat, the list goes on!
With all of these benefits, it is easy to see just how important sleep is. We need sleep and when we don’t get it we are left under-recovered, cranky, and long-term sleep deprivation can put us at risk for some serious health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke (1).
Lots of us struggle with getting good sleep, including myself.
Here are five things you can put into practice to help improve your sleep:
1. No screens of any kind one-hour before bed. The blue light from phones, computers, etc. stimulates humans, which in return keeps us up and prevents us from being able to fall a sleep when we lay down for the night.
2. Complete darkness in your room. Try black out shades, they work wonders.
3. No caffeine at least 6 hours before bed, I think shooting for 8 is better. The half-life of caffeine is about 6 hours. So a coffee with 200mg of caffeine at 2pm leaves you with 100mg of caffeine still in your system by 8pm. People that claim they can drink coffee and go right to sleep are having their sleep thrown off by the caffeine even if they do not realize it. If you are one of those people, try this out and you will see what good sleep really is!
4. Magnesium is a great sleep aid. It helps relax muscles and has been shown to also lower cortisol, our stress hormone.
5. Take vitamin D! If you are not already supplementing with it, I can almost guarantee you have a vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of vitamin D have been shown to cause sleep disorders, insomnia, light sleeping, etc. (2) Further, vitamin D deficiency has been show to cause a host of health issues outside of sleep, we should all be supplementing with Vitamin D as people who do not get sun 7-8 months out of the year.
I hope this helps. I know how frustrating bad sleep can be. Try to implement these and see if they help you out!
I use an app to help track my sleep, I really love it! it will monitor your movement and sound through your phones microphone to help calculate how much time you spend in REM sleep, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is the deep restorative sleep state in which we dream. While many of us may spend 8 hours in a sleep state, all sleep is not created equal. If you wake up more tired than when you went to bed, you may not be spending much time in REM. Using a sleep tracker can help us identify this problem. The one I use also has a smart alarm, which goes off a few minutes before the set time, and identifies when I am coming out of REM. It’s called Sleep Bot and you can download it from the app store!