BLG - Sleep
We start our BLG series with sleep, because it’s a simple and widely understood principle that everybody needs quality sleep to perform.
Sleep is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re an athlete or a stay at home parent, sleep is one of the most vital processes for health.
Sleep is still somewhat of a mystery to us, as we don’t know yet why we sleep. Although we do know a lot of the processes that happen during sleep. Sleep helps repair our body physically, it helps memory, it helps clear the brain and it plays a big role in the regulation for hormone balance.
When we become sleep deprived it can often mess with our insulin levels, and our appetite suppressing hormones. This is often the reason for some people’s sugar cravings early in the AM.
We also know that chronically reduced sleep (below 6.5 hours) and broken sleep cause a long list of problems, like low emotional resilience, inflammation and pain, reduced cognition and ability to focus.
But don’t worry, it’s not too late to upgrade your sleep!
Here are 3 game changers for sleep quality:
1. Set a sleep and wake time
We are creatures of rhythm and habit, our ancestors would sleep as the sun set and wake as it would rise. This rhythm (plus exposure to light) regulates a complex orchestra of hormones that can either help or hinder your sleep. So start off by putting rhythm into your sleep, by setting a bedtime and a wake time. The closer you stick to this EVERYDAY, the better your sleep and recovery will be.
2. Create a quality sleeping environment
The bedroom should ideally be so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Exposure to light can affect our sleep hormones and have us waking in the night.
The bedroom should have no disruptive noises that could wake you, although some people find benefit from white noise while they sleep.
And lastly, the temperature in the bedroom should ideally be between 16 and 18 degrees centigrade. This may sound cold to many, so we suggest experimenting, but there should be a drop in both room and body temperature for quality sleep.
3. AM and PM routines.
As we have said, light has a huge role to play in sleep. Setting up both AM and PM routines with this in mind can make a big difference to sleep.
Start your day with light exposure (natural light hitting the eyes), water to rehydrate your body (before your first coffee) and exercise to raise cortisol (one of the hormones that suppress sleep need and increases energy).
Avoid blue light at all costs! 15 seconds of blue light exposure has been shown to suppress melatonin (the sleep hormone) for 4 hours. Get away from screens before bed, and if this isn’t possible invest in some quality blue blocking glasses.