Prioritising Better Sleep Habits
By Ben Jackson
Sleep happens to play a very important role in healing and restoration. While we slumber, our bodies repair tissues, clean out metabolic wastes from throughout the day and repair DNA that has suffered oxidative stress. Every cell in our bodies is repaired and restored in some way while we sleep. This restoration and repair is particularly important in our brains. Sleep is essential to brain health, particularly REM sleep when the brain flushes out waste. It is no surprise that when we are sleep deprived, our memory and cognition are often the first places where the effects of exhaustion can be noted.
A new study released this month examined exactly how sleep can control tissue repair and other regenerative processes. Before we fall asleep, our bodies begin producing high levels of the hormone melatonin. This makes us sleepy but also cues the production of certain cytokines, which are messenger molecules. These cytokines activate circadian genes that promote both sleep behavior and tissue regeneration. Our body temperature lowers, which in turn lowers our metabolic activity to allow more of our energy to go to repair. Note here: When we eat a meal, our body temperature rises, this is called TEF, the thermic effect of food, and the temperature rise is larger when the meal size is larger, so doing the math
here around a late large dinner, and not sleeping well, i'll leave you with the lightbulb moment.
Melatonin appears to be the first step in the process for both sleeping and repair. It also appears to have other functions, working as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent in addition to its role in regeneration and sleep. So how do you promote natural melatonin release: Melatonin naturally gets released when the sun goes down at the end of the day, yet we then stop the release by turning bright lights on in our house, watching screens that promote cortisol and adrenaline release, which inhibit melatonin production. So.....dim your lights in your house, especially 1.5 hours before bed, and save money on power. WIN WIN! No screen time 1.5 hour before bed (set an alarm to turn it OFF!) Work backwards from your optimal wake up time to find your 8 hour sleep time e.g if you are wanting to wake at 6am, you need to be asleep by 10pm, so give yourself 20- 30 mins of bed time to read or be intimate with partner ( the only two things we should do other than sleeping in bed) then work backwards from there for your screen off time e.g 8pm screen off time.
Daytime habits to promote healthy night time habits: Get vitamin D on your skin (Note:When the rays of the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a steep angle, UVB rays are blocked. This occurs during the early and later parts of the day, and most of the day during the winter. So, if you want to increase your vitamin D, expose your skin to the sun closer to midday to allow for maximum production. But relying on sunlight during the winter months may not be enough to meet your needs. Frequency of Movement and more restorative movement in the evening Caffeine between 9am-12pm
Not eating late as that heats up your body Integration: 3-6 weeks for your new habit to be created. 3-4 Visual reminders- in your emotional language, in your hot spot areas (areas where you are the most through your day) Alarms to cue subconscious behaviour e.g 8pm TURN ME AND ALL SCREENS OFF TIME Integrity ---- Life values. What are your "whys" Make important everyday habits "Untouchable times"