Sleep is an essential part of health and wellness. When your sleep schedule is off, it can really disrupt your life, mood, and well-being. Sleep isn’t just a time for you to rest your body. In fact, your body remains very active while you’re asleep.
Why your body needs sleep
During sleep, your body repairs muscles you’ve exhausted during the day and clears out toxins that collect in the brain. Sleep is also necessary for memory processing.
Sleep plays a very important role in the regulation of emotions. Maybe you’ve noticed that when you don’t sleep well, you have less patience and a shorter fuse. Studies show that just one night of poor sleep can change your emotional response to situations drastically.
Inadequate sleep can also have a negative effect on your metabolism, appetite control, immune system, and management of your weight.
Finally, getting good sleep affects your body’s circadian rhythm (or inner clock). Your biological clock may also impact metabolism, inflammation, and how you respond to stressful circumstances.
Sleeping at unusual times of the day, not getting enough hours of sleep, and exposure to bright light in the middle of the night can upset your natural circadian rhythm, along with the many processes it controls.
If you get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, you may think that’s adequate. However, sleep quality matters just as much as duration. Sleep quality may be measured by how long it takes to fall asleep, how many times you wake during the night, how long you spend in different sleep stages, and whether you feel rested the next day.
Tips for getting better sleep
Limit exposure to blue light before bed
Exposure to bright light in the evening can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Electronics like smartphones, televisions, and computers can trick your inner clock into thinking it’s day time. This can reduce the amount of melatonin produced in your body, making it more difficult to relax into a deep sleep.
Ideally, you would turn off all electronics and bright lights 2 hours before bed, but for those of you who need to use electronics closer to bed time, try using blue light blocking glasses.
Don’t drink caffeine too late in the afternoon
Caffeine has many benefits, and the majority of Americans drink caffeine. But drinking caffeine too late in the day can overstimulate your nervous system, making it more difficult to relax in the evening to prepare for a good night’s sleep.
One study showed that drinking caffeine as far as 6 hours before bedtime can negatively impact your sleep.
Caffeine can remain in your blood for 6-8 hours after drinking it, so it’s not recommended to drink it after 2 or 3 pm. If you have an itch for an afternoon coffee, try reaching for decaf instead.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time
Your sleep and wake times have an impact on your circadian rhythm, so if your sleep schedule is inconsistent, you may have poor quality sleep. Having a regular sleep and wake schedule can help you sleep better and feel more rested.
Studies have shown that people who stay up late on weekends, or have an irregular sleep pattern in general, report having bad sleep.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake at the same time every morning.
Relax and clear your mind before bed
Do you ever lay awake in bed at night replaying the events of the day, or ruminating about your to-do list for tomorrow? If you take the stress of the day to bed with you, chances are you won’t be getting a very good night’s sleep.
People that have a bedtime routine often go to bed more relaxed and have better quality sleep. Studies have shown that relaxation practices before bed can improve sleep quality and duration.
Different relaxation practices work for different people. Try meditation, listening to soft music, taking a bath, or deep breathing and see which one works best for you.
Take a supplement to support good sleep
Along with practicing good sleep habits, some supplements can increase relaxation and support better sleep.
Melatonin is a popular supplement that can help you fall asleep faster. As mentioned before, your body produces melatonin on its own, but bright lights and other disruptions to your circadian rhythm can decrease melatonin production. You can take melatonin as a supplement to help you get back on a normal sleep schedule.
L-theanine is an amino acid that can improve relaxation and sleep. Try taking 100-200 mg before bed for better sleep.
Glycine, another amino acid, has also been shown to enhance sleep quality. Studies have shown that taking 3 grams of the amino acid can enhance sleep quality.
One way to increase glycine intake is to drink bone broth. Naked Bone Broth from Naked Nutrition has more than 4 grams of glycine, and mixing with a savory warm beverage can be the perfect way to relax before bed.
Many studies have shown that ashwagandha can decrease stress and improve sleep. The leaves of the plant contain triethylene glycol, which helps induce sleep. Ashwagandha can be taken as a capsule or powder to reduce stress levels and help you get to sleep.
Sleep plays a key role in your health and wellness. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, it can really alter your mood, affect your health, and hinder your well-being. There are many healthy habits you can put into action that will improve your sleep. You can also take supplements that support relaxation and help you sleep better.
Since sleep is important for so many aspects of your health, you should place getting enough quality sleep each night high on your to-do list.