Guide to a Better Night's Sleep
Sleep plays a very important role in our body’s health, but admittedly it can often be overlooked. Adequate sleep can help the body physically recover, boost the immune system, and even help with mental illnesses, like depression. According to the CDC, adults 18-60 years of age need 7 or more hours of sleep per night. If you’re one of the many that struggle to achieve the required amount, these tips can help you catch z’s faster, longer, and better.
Before we dive in, let's talk about melatonin. Melatonin is an important hormone that your body produces to help regulate sleep. The brain’s pineal gland releases melatonin when it’s dark, and conversely reduces it when it’s light. Following the tips below will help to further regulate your melatonin release cycle, but if you need help you can take an oral melatonin supplement before bed. They are readily available online and at drug stores, and are commonly accepted as a safe and proven way to promote sleep. It’s worth noting that you should always talk to your doctor before trying out any new supplements.
As mentioned above, light greatly impacts sleep patterns because the body releases more melatonin when it's dark and less when it’s light. During the day try exposing yourself to natural sunlight as much as possible, and avoid light in the night. A few hours before bedtime, dim the lights in your home and avoid screens from your phone, computer, or television. If avoiding screens altogether isn’t possible (or if you’re addicted to TikTok like me), try dimming the screen and wearing blue light glasses. When it’s time to actually go to bed, make your room as dark as possible - aiming for pitch black. This means do not sleep with the television on, and consider investing in light blocking curtains or a sleep mask.
Studies show that a lower room temperature can help induce a better night’s sleep, which is likely related to the fact that when you sleep your body temperature decreases. However, many of us are likely sleeping with our room temperature set far too high. Your room should be around 60-67ºF or 15-19ºC to create an environment ideal for sleep. A good rule of thumb is that if you find yourself needing to put one leg out from under the covers to cool down, your room is far too warm for an ideal sleeping environment. You should want to be snugly under your covers all night long.
Magnesium is a common mineral found in food and is used in cellular reactions, but did you know that magnesium can help your brain and body relax by regulating neurotransmitters and melatonin? Magnesium deficiencies can even cause insomnia and sleep interruptions. You can ensure you have enough magnesium in your body to cultivate a good night’s sleep by taking a magnesium supplement orally or topically. If you do decide to try supplementing with magnesium, do so at night so you don’t get too sleepy during the day.
So, did you doze off while reading this? Although often overlooked, sleep plays a crucial role in bodily functions. Working towards consistently achieving high quality sleep is important, and luckily there are quite a few steps you can take to bio-hack the process. When in doubt, aim to make your sleeping environment a bit like a cave: cool, silent, and dark. Goodbye and goodnight!