Hut: What are the top three reasons people fail when it comes to sleep?
Dan: The top three reasons people fail when it comes to sleep, first and foremost, it would just simply be their daily rhythms and rituals. To have optimal sleep, we can’t be doing something different every single night. We can’t be involved in different activities right up until bedtime. We can’t be watching T.V., involved in our work e-mail or our work texting right up until bedtime.
We need to have daily rhythms or daily rituals, or whatever you want to call them, in order to start priming the body for sleep, in order to start signaling to the body, “Okay, this is my normal routine. I recognize this. I’m going to start secreting the hormones and neurotransmitters to calm the nervous system down, to calm the brain down,” and do these things so that you’re priming yourself for a better sleep quality.
You need to have your own ritual of what calms you down. This may be a warm shower or a warm bath. It may be staying away from the T.V. for the last hour at night. It may be not answering your work e-mail within two hours of bedtime. All these things play a big role in how you set up the stage to create the greatest environment that’s going to allow you to fall asleep when you should fall asleep.
Number two ties into number one in the fact that in the p.m. we should really be avoiding blue light exposure. It’s been demonstrated within research and there are actual full therapies known as light therapy now in order to retrain people’s sleep/wake cycles. What we’ve found in recent research is that blue light exposure to the eyeballs at night time decreases melatonin secretion from the pineal gland in the brain.
Melatonin—a lot of you have probably heard about it. 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 both fall asleep and stay asleep. That whole recovery process in the brain is kicked off by melatonin, but blue light exposure through the eyes decreases the secretion of melatonin, which therefore is going to delay the signaling and delay and 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.” That’s what’s happening. It’s been demonstrated more times than once to decrease and delay that whole sleep process. So many people are on their computer and T.V. or phone right before bed. They’re laying in bed on their phone. This is direct research showing that this affects that. So that would definitely be number two.
Number three would be improper supplementation. We’ve also seen in research, for example, adding vitamin D in later in the day is associated with decreasing sleep quality. Why? 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? It’s affecting sleep quality later in the day.
Fish oil immediately before bed has also been shown to decrease sleep quality. 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.
Disclosure: If you purchase anything from links in my emails or articles, I may receive some kind of affiliate commission. But I will only mention products I love and would recommend whether or not I were being compensated.