Are you getting the recommended 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep? It’s virtually impossible to stay healthy and emotionally balanced without it. Skimping on sleep can contribute to a whole host of chronic health problems from obesity and diabetes to immune problems and increased risk for cancer. It can also raise your risk for accidents and occupational errors. And did you know that our single biggest contributor to our collective sleep problems is the use of artificial lighting and electronics usage at night? Light of a blue wavelength is emitted from these devices that tricks our brains into thinking that it is daytime.
Working indoors, where most people work, fail to get sufficient exposure to full, bright and natural sunlight during the day which disconnects from the natural cycles of day and night to turn into a chronic problem of struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep. Actually, the remedy is simple and inexpensive because you only have to modify your light environment to resynchronize your body to the natural cycles of light and dark.
Try these easy steps to resynchronize YOUR body.
- Get bright light exposure during the day. Indoors you essentially enter a state
- Avoid blue light at night. Your brain starts progressively increasing the of “light deficiency” which serves as the major synchronizer of your master body clock and composed of a group of cells in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SNC) hormone melatonin around 9 or 10 pm that makes you sleepy and acts as a marker of your circadian phase or biological timing. Hormone influences what time of day or night your body thinks it is, regardless of the time on the clock. Blue light range (400490) can also induce photoreceptor damage in your eyes. Ways to avoid blue light would be to turn off or dim lights after sunset and avoiding watching TV for at least one hour before bedtime. (Good luck with that one!) Try shifting to allowwattage bulb with yellow, orange or red light and use amber colored glasses that block blue light. Studies show these glasses have shown to give major improvements in both sleep quality and mood.
- Sleep in darkness
Here are some more common issues and thing to try to improve sleep:
- Address mental states that prevent peaceful slumber
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom below 70
- Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime
- Be mindful of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom
- Develop a relaxing presleep routine
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, drugs, nicotine and chocolate prior to bedtime
- Use a fitness tracker to help you get to bed on time
If sleep evades you, you might just give some or all of the above suggestions a try. I have found that my biggest culprit is worrying about the things I have to do the next morning. Maybe a nice cup of calming tea would help a few hours before retiring. Have a very restful night!
–Dr Fredda Branyon