Updated: Nov 20, 2020
Getting a good night’s sleep is something that a lot of us dream of; sleeping in late, or going to bed early to make sure we get in all eight hours. The value of a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be underestimated. It is vital to our physical and emotional health, and giving our bodies the 7-9 hours of rest that they need can bring many benefits to our daily lives.
Giving yourself the proper amount of sleep can improve your mental health by reducing stress, improving memory, boosting your mood, and increasing productivity. In addition, sleeping may also benefit your physical health by lowering your blood pressure, helping your immune system, maintaining your weight, reducing your chances of diabetes, and keeping your heart healthy.
With all of these benefits of sleep, how do we adjust our sleep schedules to make sure we are getting enough rest? Here are 5 lifestyle changes that may help your sleep schedule:
1. Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene includes having a regular sleep schedule. You can achieve this by going to bed at the same time every night, creating your nighttime routine, and making sure that your sleep environment is peaceful and pleasant. A regular routine at bed time can help your body know when it’s time to wind down for sleep. A comfortable environment including temperature, pillows, blankets, light reduction, and white noise can all make your bedroom more relaxing.
2. Reducing blue light/screen time
Almost all modern electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) emit blue light, which can cause your body to produce higher levels of Cortisol, and lower levels of Melatonin, disrupting your body’s sleeping patterns. Exposure to blue light directly effects your internal clock, by reversing your Circadian rhythm. For example, when it’s dark (less blue light exposure), your body produces more Melatonin making you tired, but when it’s light (more blue light exposure) your body produces more Cortisol which makes you more alert and awake. In order to reduce blue light exposure you can incorporate different bed time routines such as turning off electronics an hour before bed, changing what you do right before bed to wind down, turning off your notifications, using a blue light filter on your devices, or wearing blue light glasses.
3. Morning sunlight
Spending time outside or exposing yourself to sunlight in the mornings may help you sleep better. By seeing morning sunlight, your body may warm up allowing you to be more awake in the mornings. It may also increase your levels of serotonin, which is also important to sleep. It can also allow your brain to adjust your internal clock, allowing you to fall asleep at a decent hour. Sun exposure is the most helpful within the first hour of getting out of bed. This could include eating your breakfast outside or even just opening your curtains and windows.
4. Walking & Exercise
Taking a daily walk (especially in the morning!) or exercising during the day can improve sleep, increase energy, and improve your overall health. By expending energy during the day you can greatly impact your ability to wind down at night time. Exercising and movement can help decrease stress, which in turn helps you sleep better. However, participating in high intensity exercise right before bed may increase energy, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Some recent studies have shown that the use of CBD, cannabidiol from hemp, may improve sleep quality. Research has discovered that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in maintaining certain body functions, including sleep and regulating circadian rhythms. Some research indicates that CBD may interact with specific endocannabinoid receptors, potentially affecting the sleep/wake cycle. Additionally, CBD may also help you reduce anxiety, stress, and inflammation or pain, which in turn may improve your quality of sleep. By helping you relax, the use of CBD products such as tinctures, bath bombs, or gummies may help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer.