Did you know that American adults who were short sleepers (less than 7 hours per 24-hour period) were more likely to report 10 chronic health conditions compared to those who got enough sleep? (source)
Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint. It occurs when you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep even though you had the opportunity to get a full night of sleep.
Good sleep promotes good health, including brain health. Sleep represents a third of every person’s life and it has a tremendous impact on how we live, function and perform during the other two-thirds of our lives. It is indeed as vital as the air we breathe and the food we eat.
Your behaviors during the day, and especially before bedtime, can have a major impact on your sleep. They can promote healthy sleep or contribute to sleeplessness. Your daily routines – what you eat and drink, the medications you take, how you schedule your days and how you choose to spend your evenings – can significantly impact your quality of sleep. Even a few slight adjustments can, in some cases, mean the difference between sound sleep and a restless night. Completing a two-week sleep diary can help you understand how your routines affect your sleep.
Create a Healing Sleep Environment
The idea is to prepare your body for bed by preparing for sleep and establishing a bedtime ritual. Your circadian rhythm gets fooled by the artificial light from bulbs and devices suppressing our pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. Even though the body is exhausted the mind can be wide awake. There are ways we can enhance our environment:
- Turn off 70% of the lights in your house at least two hours before bed. Do not watch television or look at your devices or other electronics that emit light at least one hour before bed. Engage in quiet, relaxing activities. This encourages the hormone melatonin to be released which makes us feel sleepy. Avoid turning on any light during the night, including the bathroom.
- Turn off the WIFI in the evening and sleep with your phone off or on airplane mode to avoid exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF’s). Current research suggests EMF’s influence brain activity during sleep
- If you must watch television or look at your devices within this time period, invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Blue light, which is contained in sunlight, also radiates out of our devices and certain light bulbs. It disrupts the circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin and increases the stress hormone cortisol, which has also been found to disrupt sleep. For the best blue light blocking glasses, check here.
- Invest in room darkening shades or blackout shades . If particularly sensitive to light, I would recommend getting yourself an eye mask. An eye mask may improve your sleep quality and duration by lessening the chance of a light disturbance. Light signals your brain that it is time to wake up.
- Use ear plugs if you are easily awoken by sounds in the night.