Urban lives are filled with sleep saboteurs. We wake up early, grind the day away at our desks, hit the gym after five, head home for dinner, then stare at the bright screens of our gadgets until we head into the land of nod.
But as the sun goes down, melatonin (the sleep hormone) starts to rise. This hormone is governed by lights in our environment – meaning artificial light from bulbs, phone screens, TVs, laptops and other devices can cheat us out of that late-night sleepy feeling.
Circadian rhythms are crucial for a better sleep, but melatonin is a key player in balancing these sleep patterns. It lowers blood pressure, glucose levels and body temperature to make sure we wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
There are ways to support healthy melatonin levels, especially if yours are out of sync. Avoid melatonin supplements, which can prevent the brain from producing melatonin naturally. Instead, implement these 4 changes for a better sleep and watch your energy levels peak.
4 TIPS FOR A BETTER SLEEP
1. STICK TO YOUR SLEEP PATTERN
As tempting as it may be to sleep until noon on a Saturday, you’ll probably still find that your head is in a fog at work come Monday. To create a healthy circadian clock, you need to develop a consistent sleep pattern that has you in bed around the same time every night. Sleeping in – even if it’s just at the weekends – can weaken your body rhythms and make it harder to sleep at night. Focus on around seven to eight hours of sleep every night to prevent fatigue.
2. BRING LIGHT INTO YOUR LIFE
As we know, bright lights delay your melatonin kick – but not during the day. The brighter the rays we expose ourselves to, the stronger our body clock is. The best way to up your light-levels is by soaking up the sun, ideally at the start of the day when it’s at its brightest. If catching the rays isn’t always that easy, light-therapy boxes can give out a whopping amount of rays in very little time.
3. DITCH THE GIZMOS AT NIGHT
Tablets, phones and late-night Netflix binges can disrupt melatonin production. For a better sleep stop looking at them around an hour before you go to bed and completely remove them from your sleep space to prevent the temptation of staring at them. A little yoga, meditation or just some deep breathing can help instead. Not only that, the electromagnetic frequencies smartphones emit can also contribute to sleep disruption, leading to messed-up hormones and tiredness.
4. BLACK OUT YOUR BEDROOM
Amp up your melatonin levels for a sound and better sleep by making your room pitch black at bedtime. When it’s dark, our sleep-regulating chemicals are produced in the brain’s pineal gland. Optic nerves in our eyes tell our cells that respond to light and dark signals when it’s time to wake up. When light is present, they’ll kickstart cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and reduce melatonin – making your sleep-wake cycle totally out of whack.