If you’re like 50+ million Americans, you already suffer from at least one out of more than 80 different sleep disorders on a regular basis!
No wonder we’re so tired–we are not sleeping well!
So how can we fix this nationwide problem? It’s different for all of us, but there are three main reasons that people fail to sleep well.
1 – Daily Rhythms & Rituals
We need to have daily rhythms & rituals that prime the body for sleep.
We want to start signaling to the body so it replies, “Okay, this is my normal routine. I recognize this. I’m going to start secreting the hormones and neurotransmitters to calm the nervous system and the brain.”
Here are some ideas on calming rituals at bedtime:
- Warm shower or bath
- Taking a walk
- Writing in a journal or diary
- Spending quality time with family or friends
Your nighttime rituals help to create the best environment that allows you to fall asleep when you should fall asleep…and stay asleep.
2 – Blue Light Exposure
There now exist light therapies in order to retrain people’s sleep/wake cycles.
Research has shown that blue-light exposure to the eyes at night decreases melatonin secretion from the pineal gland in the brain.
What is melatonin?
It’s a really popular supplement that people take when they’re trying to improve their sleep.
Melatonin is a neurotransmitter secreted from the brain to signal to fall asleep and staying asleep.
Blue-light exposure through the eyes decreases the secretion of melatonin, which therefore is going to delay that signal from the brain, and also affect the entire sleep-quality process.
What’s essentially happening is, the brain is associating that blue light with daylight.
It’s saying, “Okay, this is daylight right now. I don’t really need to be secreting any melatonin because this person’s still out and about.”
Most people are on their computer, TV, or phone right before bed, which is preventing them from falling and staying asleep.
So to enjoy optimal sleep, we should not be on any electronic devices…we can’t be watching TV, checking emails or texting right up until bedtime.
Try staying away from these blue-light emitting devices within two hours of bedtime and see how your sleep improves.
3 – Supplement Timing
There is a right time and a wrong time to take vitamins and supplements.
This is a little-known fact, and can really mess up sleep quality.
For example, let’s examine vitamin D and fish oil:
Studies have shown that taking vitamin D later in the day is associated with decreased sleep quality.
Why? Well, vitamin D comes from the sun. Your body is saying, “Hey, if I just had 400 IU of vitamin D, why are we trying to go to sleep right now?” (For best sleep results, take vitamin D early in the day.)
Taking fish oil immediately before bed has also been shown to decrease sleep quality.
This is because it could cause acid reflux. Also, fish oil is best taken with food, and we know that eating right before bed can have its own list of problems!
A lot of people take vitamin D and a lot of people take fish oil—and they should.
They are very healthy, good supplements but let’s keep them earlier in the day when it’s not going to affect our sleep.
It can be overwhelming to implement lifestyle changes, so take these tips one at a time.
Even changing one thing about your bedtime routine can noticeably improve your sleep.
Also, make sure to check with your doctor or medical professional before applying any advice.
The reasons for not sleeping well could be farther below the surface and may need to be addressed before any of the above tips would be effective.