If you are like many people, the shift in time and “springing our clocks forward” with the passing of day light savings time arrived with a loss of an hour of sleep, a decrease in energy, forgetting important meetings you had planned to attend and the inconvenience of having your day hit by an unexpected “detour.”
More than a simple inconvenience, the consequences of inadequate sleep are very damaging to you as adequate sleep is essential for you to regulate numerous hormones in your body, like testosterone, estrogen, melatonin, leptin and ghrelin that help you to lose weight.1,2 Insufficient sleep also increases your risk for many mental health problems like depression and cognitive problems like ADHD.3
Getting sufficient sleep is also important for you to minimize the damaging effects of stress, support your brain’s detoxification system and repair your body. Making sure that you get adequate sleep will also reduce your risk for many types of cancer, like prostate cancer (i.e., melatonin is a very powerful antioxidant).
Before I talk about simple strategies to help you improve your sleep, there is no “magic” number of hours that you need. Listen to your body. Your needs for sleep will vary according to the cycles of nature (e.g., with the spring season now beginning and the summer approaching the days are longer and there is more sunlight; in the fall and winter the days are shorter and there is less sunlight) because your sleep and wake cycles are regulated primarily by your exposure to external cues that influence your circadian rhythm and your lifestyle.4
Exposure to sunlight during the day (or high lux artificial lights) suppresses your secretion of melatonin and helps to reset your circadian rhythm. More than practicing sensible sun light exposure, having good sleep hygiene is important. So if you have tried different approaches and still experience problems getting back in sync with your body’s needs for sleep or wake up in the middle of the night, follow my simple recommendations below:
- The most effective and simplest strategy to improve your quality of sleep is going to bed at the same time each evening and waking up at the same time every morning.
- You also want to develop a night time ritual to help you transition into sleep. Try reading or meditating (e.g., Mindfulness Meditation or Loving Kindness Meditation) an hour before you go to bed.
- To help you sleep more easily, it is also important to avoid certain stimuli and avoid drinking or eating within 3 hours of your bed time. Eating before you sleep can interfere with restful sleep as your body is still digesting food.
- As a rule of thumb, you also want to dim the lights in your room or house 2 hours before bed time to help your body produce more melatonin. Instead, keep a Himalayan salt lamp in your bedroom as the amber lighting will help to increase your melatonin levels and help to purify the air to help you breath more easily.
- Wear a sleep mask or install black out curtains in your bedroom to keep artificial lights from interfering with your sleep.
- Minimize or avoid your use of electronics like your T.V., computer or smartphone as they emit a blue spectrum light that can interfere with your body’s secretion of melaton.
- If you must work and use a computer or your smartphone, use software like f.lux to reduce the interference on your computer and IPhone or EasyEyez for Android. Or wear orange or red tinted sunglasses like BluBlockers to protect you from blue spectrum lights.
- Set your smartphone on “airplane mode” and unplug your Wi-Fi router at home as you will not be using the internet during your sleep and the nnEMFs produced by your phone and Wi-Fi router may interfere with your sleep. Invest in scalar energy devices such as the Airestech to help mitigate the harmful effects of nnEMFs.
- Set the ambient temperature in your bedroom down to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Your core body temperature drops during sleep and setting your climate control higher can contribute to restless sleep.
Upon waking, take a moment to notice how you feel. If you feel refreshed and alert, make a mental note of what you did the prior night and repeat the cycle. Ideally, you will wake up without the need for an alarm. Otherwise, you need more sleep and need to adjust your schedule so that can go to bed earlier. It’s best to set your intention and go to bed by 10:00 pm and allow for eight to nine hours of sleep.
To your health and success,
To learn more about how working with a psychologist and holistic health coach can help you to enhance your health and well-being, call or email Dr. Sandoval to schedule a free consultation.
- Czeisler, CA, Klerman, EB. “Circadian and sleep-dependent regulation of hormone release in humans.” Recent Progress in Hormone Research. (1999). (54):97-132.
- Van Cauter, E, Knutson, K, Leproult, R, and Spiegel, K. “The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Hormones and Metabolism.” (2005). Medscape Neurology. (7):1.
- Ilardi, S. (2010). The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs.
- Wiley, TS & Formby, B. (2001). Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival.
- Stalgis-Bilinski, KL, Boyages, J, Salisbury, EL, Dunstan, CR, Henderson, SI, and Talbot, PL. “Burning daylight: balancing vitamin D requirements with sensible sun exposure.” Medical Journal of Australia. (2011).194(7):345-8.