My five top tips on how to naturally improve your sleep! Top of the morning
Going outside within 30-60 minutes of waking up is optimal for regulating our circadian rhythm, stimulating our natural cortisol release and increasing energy in the morning
, and, on the flip side, inducing sleepiness at night! On clear, sunny days, safely gaze outdoors for 10 minutes. On cloudy days you’ll need to be outside for 20 minutes, and on very gloomy days, 30-60 minutes. Consider using an artificial daylight simulator source if you reside somewhere with very little light. Safely permitting, avoid wearing sunglasses for this protocol, although contact lenses and eyeglasses are okay. To preface, no, you don't have to stare directly at the sun, and you should never look at a light that is so bright that it hurts your eyes! A whole latte more to caffeine than a “pick me up.”
Caffeine acts as an adenosine antagonist (meaning caffeine binds to the adenosine receptor); therefore, the adenosine receptor cannot interact with the usual mechanisms of inducing sleepiness; this is why caffeine in the morning makes us feel less tired!
However, as the effects of caffeine naturally wear off throughout the day, adenosine will attach to the receptor with greater affinity, causing a more significant ‘crash’ post-caffeine
! For this reason, delaying your caffeine intake by at least 60-90 minutes post-waking is recommended to reduce this ‘crash’ that usually occurs at 2-3 pm, which subsequently affects your sleep if you feel the need to grab a third cup of coffee or have a nap! The early bird gets the worm.
This tip involves waking up at the same time each day and going to sleep when you first start to feel sleepy. The body loves consistency & your circadian rhythm is no exception. Always aim to go to bed & get up at the same time every day
(even on weekends), ensuring you're allowing a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Don’t follow your dreams; time them!
Take no more than 90 minutes of naps during the day, or don't nap at all! Sleeping for longer than one ultradian cycle (90 minutes) can shift our circadian rhythm
(therefore hindering our ability to fall asleep at night!) Night-time routine. Technology -
Activating the do not disturb
setting on your phone will stop notifications from disrupting/distracting you late at night or during your sleep preparation stages. Moreover, the blue light from our screens can inhibit our body from making melatonin
(known as the sleepy hormone), disrupting our sleep onset. You can also charge your phone on the other side of the room, so you're not tempted to look at it at night. Darkroom -
Complete darkness helps the brain synthesise melatonin
. Conversely, waking up to bright light signals the brain to stop melatonin production, waking you up! Bright light - Between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m, avoid looking at bright lights and powerful overhead lights
. The simple protocol is only to use as little artificial light as you need to stay awake and walk about securely at night (meaning don’t burn excessive overheard bright light if it’s not required). Blue blockers -
In terms of blue blockers, you may be surprised to hear that there’s no current overwhelming evidence suggesting blue blockers help with sleep quality or sleep time
. Therefore, limiting excessive overhead bright lights not to implicate the circadian rhythm seems more appropriate. Temperature -
To fall and stay asleep, your body temperature must drop by 1-3 degrees Celcius. Interestingly, one of the reasons you wake up is because your body temperature rises! Therefore, this simple tip is to keep your room cool and remove blankets only when necessary