sleep loss

7 Tips To Sleep Better Tonight

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Sleep – Who Needs It?

Adequate sleep is essential for our health. 

Interestingly, sleep is one of the things that we are quick to negate or brush aside, as if it isn’t that important. However, there is a lot of scientific studies backing the importance of sleep. One of the most well-known scientists working on Sleep is Dr. Mathew Walker. Check out his book for all of his studies and findings.

Sleep is just as essential as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Research shows that getting enough sleep every night helps protect your physical and mental health as well as improve your quality of life.

Why Is Sleep So Important?

Sleep is so important to us (or should be) because it is the time for our body to rest, digest, detoxify and process everything that has gone on during the day.

Although many people claim they can survive and feel great off four or five hours of sleep, studies have shown that humans require at least 6 hours of sleep per night.

A new lymphatic system, called the G-lymphatic system, has recently been studied in the brain. This lymphatic system in our heads works by flushing out the toxins from the brain. And this process works best while we are asleep!

Sleep is also the time when we incorporate our memories and learning. You may have noticed that if you study late into the night for an exam the next day, you may do fine on that exam but after the exam, all of the information that you studied is lost. This is because your brain didn’t have time to incorporate that information into your long-term memory.

What Negatively Affects Sleep?

Sleep can be negatively affected by many different factors.

Some external factors can be:

  • A partner in the bed next to you (snoring, moving, going to bed or getting up at a different time)
  • Loud noises outside
  • Street lights pouring into the bedroom
  • Cell phone dinging, vibrating, lighting up
  • Pets
  • Children
  • Noisy neighbours

Internal factors affecting sleep:

  • Hormones – melatonin, cortisol, progesterone
  • Stimulants – caffeine, sugar, chocolate, screens
  • Medications – stimulatory, cause dreams/nightmares

How Do We Treat Sleep Issues?

We can treat sleep concerns by figuring out what the cause of lack of sleep is. We begin by differentiating between sleep onset problems, and sleep maintenance problems.

  • Onset – it takes too long to fall asleep
  • Maintenance – you wake up after you’ve fallen asleep 1 or more times during the night

When dealing with sleep onset problems we want to figure out what you’re doing before going to bed that may be affecting your ability to fall asleep.

This can be:

  • Exercising at night
  • Eating too close to bed time
  • Having stimulants past 2pm
  • Napping during the day
  • Using screens (TV, phone, iPad, tablet, computer) too close to bedtime or in bed
  • Stress or anxiety (elevated cortisol)

For sleep maintenance problems, we will do a little more digging to find the cause and treat it.

  • Cortisol – cortisol can increase during the night waking you up well before your alarm is to go off
  • Progesterone – it is known that when progesterone is diminishing, men and women feel more anxious, and can wake throughout the night
  • Melatonin – melatonin decreases with age, especially in women near peri-menopause and menopause ages.

To determine the cause of your sleep issues, testing may be necessary, or we may be able to determine what is going on for you from your health history and symptom picture. Please also note that hormones are all interacting in the body, so if there is one hormone out of balance, many are likely to be skewed.

7 Tips to Improve Your Sleep

  1. Bright light during the day: daytime bright lights help improve your sleep patterns by helping to reset your body clock. Being outside and around bright lights during the day helps tell your brain it is day time.
  2. Reduce blue light at night: phones, tablets, TV’s and computers at night trick your brain into thinking that it is daytime. The blue light that is emitted from these screens actually suppresses the melatonin release, making it harder for you to get ready for sleep.
  3. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day: this may seem obvious, as caffeine found in coffee and tea and some energy drinks will keep you awake and prevent a comfortable sleep. Avoid stimulants (caffeine, sugar, chocolate) past 3pm to avoid these substances affecting your sleep.
  4. Consistency: go to bed at a the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Your body clock will reset itself to get used to the sleep schedule, so you will naturally feel ready to sleep and alert at the same times!
  5. Reduce naps and irregular sleep: napping during the day might be a good way to energize yourself, but too much of it can affect your sleep as you will no longer feel tired at night. If you nap, do it for 30 minutes or less and before 3pm.
  6. Eliminate alcohol before bed: although it is a common thought to have a ‘night cap’ because it helps you relax and fall asleep, alcohol actually reduces your ability to get into the REM cycle of sleep, thereby blocking you from deep, restorative sleep.
  7. Keep your bed for sex and sleep only: don’t work or study from your bed, this keeps things simple for you – when you go to bed, it’s to sleep or have sex 🙂

If you find that you’re experiencing sleep loss or sleep difficulty, we’d love to help! Book here.