Sleep is really the only way to truly recover and often the most neglected. Deep, quality sleep is one of the most important factors to your overall health and well being.
- Muscle growth and recovery
- Testosterone and Growth Hormone levels
- Optimal insulin levels
- Motor skills
- Learning and cognition
On going sleep deficiency is linked to a number of health problems as well; heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and more.
We have compiled a few sleep hacks to help you improve your sleep:
1. Blue Light
Blue light is artificial light we are exposed to from things like computer screens, tablets, smart phones, TVs and more.
Blue wavelengths of light are beneficial during daylight hours since they boost attention, reaction times and mood.
Unfortunately this can be disruptive at night before bed and throws your bodies circadian rhythm (your bodies clock) out of whack. To learn more about why this is, you can read this Harvard Health article.
Now, here are a few ways to minimize blue light exposure at night:
- The first and most obvious is to avoid it all together. Stop using your computer, phone or anything with a bright screen a couple hours before bed.
- If you use an iPhone, use the 'Night Shift' feature on your phone. This makes your phones screen turn from blue to red light, which is less disruptive on sleep. To do this go to Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Night Shift. On Android there are a few apps available that do this as well.
- On your computer, download f.lux, this does the same thing as Night Shift and lowers the amount of blue light coming from your screen.
2. Your Environment and Habits
- Don't exercise within 2 hours before bed.
- No caffeine in the afternoon.
- Make your bedroom as black as possible or wear a sleep mask. Any light exposure can disturb your sleep.
- Go to bed the same time every night, keeping you in a sleep rhythm.
- Don't drink alcohol, it reduces the amount of REM sleep you get. The more you drink the less REM sleep you get.
- Take Vitamin D in the morning. Some studies have shown that low Vitamin D levels are almost always found in poor sleepers. See our article - 5 Facts About Vitamin D
- Most people are deficient in Zinc and Magnesium, 35-45% of adults do not get proper Zinc intake and over 70%, according to the World Health Organization, do not ingest enough Magnesium. The easiest way to supplement with Zinc and Magnesium is by taking ZMA before bed, which can act as a natural sedative. Read more about ZMA here.
- Tryptophan helps to increase serotonin which is a neurotransmitter responsible for making you feel calm and relaxed. Tryptophan is also used in the body to synthesize melatonin.
4. No Alarm
- This is obviously a tough one for most of us with jobs and responsibilities. But when and if at all possible don't set an alarm, let your body wake up when it wants.
- Think of your body like a computer and at night is when it installs updates, if you set an alarm your computer is not done updating!
Start implementing some or all of these hacks and let us know how they work!