It’s a common scene: you come home from a busy day, make dinner, fire off some emails, chill on the couch, all while feeling bone weary and ready for a good night’s sleep. Except when it comes to lights out, you’re wide awake. Trust us when we say, you’re not alone…
Studies have found that 77% of us are not getting enough sleep, and that stress is the primary factor keeping us awake. Despite common belief, stress actually derives from both psychological and physiological sources; e.g worries about finances and work plus factors like blue light, sugar, poor diet, alcohol and caffeine.
The brain does not distinguish between the origin of stress, all it registers is an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which keeps you up, alert and wired when the world’s sound asleep.
Think you can’t train yourself to switch off and chill out? Guess again. Sleep Specialist Olivia Arezzolo hit us up with four easy ways to ditch the insomnia and train our bodies to consistently get a good night's sleep.
Cut Out Your Overexposure To Blue Light
It's been said a million times before, but blue light from our electronic devices are by far the number one culprit when it comes to disrupted sleep patterns. Now, new evidence published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism now shows blue light stimulates the brain to be awake in exactly the same way coffee does.
In addition to stimulating the brain to keep you awake, blue light also suppresses the secretion of melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) for up to 90 minutes until after you’ve disconnected from the light sources—which is exactly why your brain is buzzing after your late night Instagram scroll.
Alongside devices, blue light even comes from your ceiling lights and outside lights too,so if you’re really struggling switching off even after logging off, it could mean that ‘Night Mode’ is not enough. Arezzolo’s suggestion? “If you work in an office with next to no natural light source, get 100% blue light blocking glasses. They protect your eyes from absorbing artificial light (anything that isn’t sunlight) alongside harmful rays and have options for prescription and non-prescription lenses. Given that you’ll be sleeping for a third of your life, it’s a no brainer. “
Set An Alarm For Bedtime
It happens to the best of us; you promise yourself you’ll get to bed early, switch off the TV, read a book, all the things we already know to calm and relax the mind before bed. Before you know it though, it’s 1am and you’re shuddering thinking about getting up for work in the morning.
Make a regular bedtime a habit for yourself by setting an alarm to disconnect from your devices and start the process of winding down. Arezzolo suggests to “label the alarm with something that motivates you to actually do it, like ‘wake up fresh’. By naming the alarm with a positive attribute you’ll be more likely to close off your phone—even if you switch to reading a book before falling asleep.”
Take A Magnesium Supplement Before Bed
Evidence suggests that by taking magnesium daily, you can reduce feelings of anxiety by 31%. How? Magnesium regulates how your body responds to stress: there is a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol, which contributes to that wired, anxious, and overly alert feeling we get when we can’t switch off. This is the key reason why health professionals often utilise magnesium supplementation for anxiety, insomnia and, in some cases, even depression.
Make Your Bedroom A Sleep-Worthy Sanctuary
What’s happening in your bedroom is fundamental to good sleeping habits; essentially, is the space promoting or reducing stress? A messy, disorganised room, where you engage in stimulating activities like work, enhances feelings of anxiety as soon as you see it.
Conversely, a clutter free ‘zen zone’, reserved for endorphin-spiking activities such as relaxation, sleep and sex—which activate opioid receptors in the brain that help reduce pain, and promote feelings of well-being—encourage calmness.
In addition to ensuring your bedroom is free of clutter, Arezzolo suggests “using a diffuser each night with essential oils such as lavender” each night to quite literally trigger your brain to recognize that it’s time to switch off. A wealth of evidence shows a reduction of anxiety by 23.9% and insomnia by simply using essential oils as a sleep aid.
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Image credit: Jay Wennington