It is currently Sleep Awareness Week, and it’s time to raise awareness about the many health problems that stem from lack of sleep. Because sleep is such a vital component of our health, HoneyColony is offering 10 tips to improve this critical function (restorative sleep) without pharmaceuticals.
Studies show that sleep quality is directly related to sleep hygiene. The National Sleep Foundation defines sleep hygiene as “a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.” So could it be that your nighttime habits are causing you to lose out on the benefits of quality sleep? To find out, we turned to Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a New York-based neuropsychologist and faculty member at Columbia University. She is also the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C. a neuropsychological, developmental, and educational center in Manhattan and Queens.
“Not only are people unaware of why they are suffering from insomnia or not getting quality sleep but they are unaware of the effects this has on their health, daily functions, and brain,” the New York-based Neuropsychologist explains.
Lack of sleep affects our mood, memory, weight, focus, cognition, and resistance. In modern life where sleep deprivation is often chronic, we don’t even notice how deep the damage goes because our adrenals tend to compensate for the energy deficiency. We can continue the rat race for years before the deficiency triggers a chronic disease or other problems.
One in three adults today have frequent insomnia and two in three have regular sleep issues — enough to declare sleep deprivation a national security issue.
Yet you can improve your sleep. To make the most out of Sleep Awareness Week, here are some of the top ways to improve sleep.
10 Sleep Awareness Week Tips
1. No Eating In The Evening
Don’t eat for at least three hours before going to bed. A stomach that needs to digest at night doesn’t communicate with the brain, which is essential for the regenerative effect to happen. Sugar, pasta, bread, wheat, and everything that comes in packaged form is especially suspect.
For late night munchers, it is no strange notion that after a binge session at 3 a.m it may be a little difficult to fall asleep. “Your system is stuffed. Depending on how much you eat you may feel bloated or hyperactive. This can result in you feeling uncomfortable. If you’re on a diet you may feel guilty for breaking your regimen,” says Dr. Hafeez. All of these things cause your brain and system to be preoccupied with all but falling asleep.
2. Gather Evidence
Do you feel groggy or disoriented in the mornings instead of feeling refreshed? Is it due to multiple wakeups throughout the night? Lack of REM? Lack of deep sleep? Biohackers tout the benefits of the Oura ring to find out what specifically is affecting your sleep. The more you know about what’s going on, the better you’ll be able to address the root causes of your sleep disruptions.
3. Electrpsmog: Clinging to Your Cell Phone While Trying To Doze Off
This is a major issue in today’s digital age. People are tuned in to their phones too late into the night, reports show.
“As more and more people opt to have their phone by their bedside and go to bed staring at their screens there is an increase in phone-related insomnia. Our eyes stay alert with the light of the screen,” explains Dr. Hafeez.
“The constant scrolling and continued processing of information make it so your brain never begins relaxing,” she says. Tips for avoiding this issue are to leave your phone across the room. This also helps when waking up in the morning and having to walk across the room to turn your phone alarm off.
Also, turn off your WiFi and cell phone for the night. Avoid sleeping with your head close to electrical outlets. Make sure you’re not sleeping close to a cellular station or 5G pole. Electrosmog happens to be one of the top sleep busters in the modern world.
4. Avoid Artificial Energy Boosters
Compensating energy with coffee, alcohol, drugs, and sleeping agents whack us out of balance. If you drink coffee, try to have your last cup around noon. Make it organic and consider bulletproofing to optimize the java.
People unassumingly snack on chocolate or have a caffeinated soft drink too late in the day, which keeps you alert but may impact your sleep and that much-needed recharge.
Many people say they sleep better after drinking alcohol. That may be true for a glass of wine with a light dinner but “a restful sleep is not the same as blacking out or drinking so heavily that you find yourself inebriated prior to sleep,” explains Dr. Hafeez. Alcohol disrupts the way our body absorbs liquids, thus causing urgent and frequent needs to go to the restroom to urinate. Dr. Hafeez also says alcohol tends to disrupt the restful stage of REM.
5. Poor Lighting Environment
Ideally, you should put screens away before sleep, but if you do use them in the evenings, make sure you have blue light filters on your computer or you are wearing blue blockers. Don’t stare at TV late in the night. Blue light tells the brain that sleep is not necessary, so we need to filter it out in the evening.
Meanwhile, if a room is getting too much light coming in, it can be difficult to sleep. Dr. Hafeez adds:
Many people with light sensitivity will use blackout curtains to optimize the room for sleep. When clocks move forward and the sun rises at an earlier time, people often struggle to acclimate themselves to the new time because the sunlight is waking them up.
6. Moderate Exercise
Listen to your body when you exercise. A lot of people take their gym routine to a level that amps up unnecessary fight-or-flight reflexes and keeps us jacked up till the evening. Working out can help de-stress the body and reduce anxiety. However, “if done too close to your bedtime your body might still feel the adrenaline and pump of the workout and it might be difficult to fall into a sedative state,” says Dr. Hafeez.
So exercise in the morning or at noon if possible, and don’t overexercise to the point where you feel more tired. Listen to your body. Relaxation stretches or meditation can help you sleep better.
When all else fails, instead of going for synthetic sleeping pills, try natural supplements that support the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is one of three divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Sometimes called the rest and digest system, the parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. Use liposomal GABA with theanine and/or tryptophan. HoneyColony provides an easy Sleep Bundle Kit with safe natural substances to support healthy sleep.
Cannabinoid oil supports our endocannabinoid system, allowing cells to regenerate better during the sleeping cycle. You can never go wrong when you take a few drops of Superior CBD in the evening when you really need the rest.
9. Using Your Bed For More Than Just “Bed” Functions
Much like productivity professionals advise maintaining a designated area for study or work, sleep experts say your bed should be used almost exclusively for sleeping and sharing intimate moments with our spouse or lover. “The brain has a hard time adjusting to sleep mode if it gets used to being on the bed all the time, eating, watching TV, studying, or just hanging out. You’ll have a harder time shifting into actual ‘bedtime,’” explains Dr. Hafeez.
10. Room Temperature
Optimal room temperature is commonly thought to be 60-67 degrees according to the national sleep foundation. “Your body has a way of regulating temperature relative to the temperature of the room in order to relax you into sleep,” says Dr. Hafeez. If the room temperature is too hot or too cold it can cause discomfort that will wake you up throughout the night or keep you from falling asleep at all.
If you have been struggling with sleep for a longer time and need more assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Maryam Henein directly for a consultation.
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