When I was in in high school, I was part of a group drama performance. We chose to create a story that highlighted what went on in the brain when a person fell asleep behind the wheel. We mentioned really cool words like circadian rhythms, melatonin and hypothalamus (which I now fondly refer to as the hippopotamus in your brain)…
Looking back, I had no idea what these words meant or how they all connected to form a well functioning and rested brain….but now I understand not only what they are but the importance they play.
I also have more hands on experience both personally and working with clients in using these fun words to improve the quality and duration of sleep. And we’ve all been there, lying helplessly under the covers, tossing and turning unable to drift into another world. It’s frustrating to say the least!
So today I bring you my top tips for a nourishing and regenerative sleep.
Tip #1: Good sleep starts in the morning
Melatonin is a hormone that helps us drift off to sleep and there are two things that stimulate its production in the body.
The first is sunlight exposure, particularly first thing in the morning. Getting 10 minutes of uninterrupted sunlight exposure within the first 30 minutes of waking will tell your brain that it’s day time, resetting your sleep/ wake rhythms (aka circadian rhythms) and encouraging the production of melatonin for that night.
The second is darkness. I know what you’re thinking, that’s the complete opposite of the first signal! Let’s get more specific, darkness at the end of day in particular will tell your brain that it’s night time and to start producing melatonin in preparation for sleep. This means reducing bright lights in the home, and use of technology.
Tip #2: Limit the use of technology
Reduce and remove technology 60 minutes before bed. The light from phones, tablets and computers is called ‘blue light.’ You may have heard of it, it’s a pretty trendy term right now. Blue light signals to your brain it’s day time and time to be awake! So if you’re the person that’s wide awake at 11pm and ‘not tired’, try removing technology 60 minutes before bed to encourage an easy send of into dreamland.
Tip #3: Routine, routine, routine!
Routine. Routine is simply a sequence of actions regularly followed. Routine creates a feeling of safety in the body and also is a subtle signal to the brain that it’s time for sleep. The routine you create before bed could be as elaborate as having a bath, doing some yoga, having a cup of tea, meditating and then hopping in bed. OR it could be as simple as putting your PJs on, brushing your teeth, reading a little and then drifting off to sleep.
The important thing is that it’s the same steps every night.
Start with these 3 Tips and begin to enjoy a nourishing and regenerative sleep!