There is a science to sleeping better in 2020. The days of easily falling asleep and staying asleep are hard to find for many of us. Thankfully, there are many science-backed ways to improve your sleep quality, health and circadian rhythm that you can do from home.
1. Be aware of blue light.
Blue light is part of the light spectrum given off from the sun (gets us up and moving in the morning) but also from electronics (preventing our brains from winding down at night). Once I started wearing blue light blockers and significantly lowering my electronic usage at night, it became easier to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up refreshed.
How do you block blue light?
- Wearing blue light blocking glasses once the sun sets to naturally eliminate blue light from preventing melatonin production (your sleepy hormone) in the brain – especially if you will be using devices including TV.
- Unplugging electronics at night or covering up any lights with electrical tape.
- Lighting your home after sunset with red lamps or lights or even soft candles, if you prefer that ambience.
- Swapping out all the LED and fluorescent lights in your home for more yellow or red lights, or not turning them on at all after sunset.
- Nixing reading on a Kindle or electronic device! Grab a good ol’ fashioned paperback book and save your brain from those harsh blue lights and EMFs at night.
When should I block or limit blue light?
- Block 100% of blue light once the sun sets using the above methods.
- Have a “no scrolling rule” after dinnertime. Put all electronics away at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours before bedtime.
- Get to bed earlier – especially in the winter when our exposure to nighttime blue light is at a yearly high with the sun setting earlier.
2. Try CBD for restful and better quality sleep.
High-quality, organic, full-spectrum CBD oil at night has made the biggest difference in my sleep quality after eliminating blue light.
I source my CBD from Equilibria – a small, woman-owned company that grows their own hemp and tests it for contaminants, pesticides and heavy metals. The CBD market has exploded and there are a lot of junk products out there. I can’t recommend their quality or potency enough!
How does CBD help you sleep?
- It calms the brain and central nervous system allowing your body to get into a parasympathetic state primed for sleep.
- Can be helpful in managing anxious thoughts that keep you awake reeling at night.
- Reduces cortisol which helps natural melatonin production from the pineal gland kick in for longer, more restful sleep.
- Studies show CBD doses (starting around 25 mg) help you fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep, and prevent nighttime wakings and cortisol spikes.
I have found that 25 mg is the perfect dose of nightly CBD for my optimal sleep. As an Equilibria CBD customer, you’ll get free access to your own dosage specialist who will help you figure out the proper dosage and timing for your body.
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3. Get active during the day.
Researchers have found that getting more physical activity in during the day results in deeper, more restorative sleep at night as well as an easier time falling asleep. Moderate exercise seems key here – not too little, not too much, not too low intensity, not too high intensity.
The amount of exercise, intensity and when exercise is performed will be different for everyone. I find that a moderate-paced morning walk has the double the benefits: it allows blue light into your retina to wake the body up with a natural AM cortisol spike. Sometime late morning or early afternoon, I’ll get a more intense workout in on my Peloton bike or with some moderate weights for 30 minutes.
If anything, get outside during the day, multiple times – especially in the morning when the sun comes up. Take mini breaks and quick 15-minute walks on work breaks and an after-dinner stroll every night. Your body will feel like it had a full day of activity – mental and physical – and you will fall asleep more quickly.
4. Limit physical and emotional stress in the late afternoon and evening.
One of my no-questions-asked rules is NO STRESSFUL CONVERSATIONS AT NIGHT. If you need to have a “big talk” with your spouse or work partner, save it for the next day. Nothing needs to be discussed immediately unless it’s a true emergency.
This applies to stressful television, music and books too. Do a check on what you are consuming each day – does it raise your cortisol? Cause fear, anxiety or stress? I say this all the time but – turn off the news. I can’t even explain how much your health will improve by turning off the news completely – you will need to see for yourself.
At the same time, avoid high intensity exercise in the evening which spikes cortisol and prevents your body from getting into a restful state. Reconfigure your day so workouts can be done either in the morning, on your lunch break or at least wrapped up by dinnertime at the very latest.
5. Balance your blood sugar all day.
Balancing your blood sugar throughout the day is key to sleeping restfully at night. Blood sugar imbalances often wake us in the middle of the night – especially around the 2 to 4 am hour.
Some easy ways to balance your blood sugar:
- Eat a lower carb, real food diet. You don’t need to be low carb or keto, but by avoiding processed foods and carbs, you will naturally lower your carbohydrate intake. This will leave more room on your plate for complex carbs from vegetables, high quality protein and fat.
- Be aware of added or obvious sugars in your diet. Sugar can be incredibly addicting for many of us. Instead of a sugary breakfast like cereal or flavored oatmeal, make yourself a plate of bacon, eggs, and a smoothie every morning. Blood sugar regulation for the day starts with your morning meal.
- Enjoy high quality proteins at all your meals and snacks, no matter if you are a meat eater or vegetarian. Vegetarians can include more eggs, beans and other legumes into their diet for more protein, but I’m a supporter of eating high-quality animal proteins in smaller amounts throughout the day (3 to 4 ounces per serving).
- Don’t fear fat. Out of the three macronutrients, healthy fat intake balances blood sugar most efficiently. Fat can come from animal sources (like beef, dark meat chicken, wild fish) and vegetarian sources (like coconut, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds). Include it at every meal and your insulin levels will thank you.