Struggling to Get Shut-Eye? Here Are 6 Natural Tips To Improve Your Sleep and Feel Energized
Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night is essential for optimal energy, well-being, and productivity. Unfortunately, many of us struggle to get enough shut-eye, which has disastrous effects on mental and physical health. It doesn't matter how much you exercise, eat 'clean', and manage stress without quality sleep, nothing will make a dent!
We made it our mission to uncover 6 science-backed tips to help you 'biohack' your sleep cycle.
1. Get Morning Sunlight Exposure
Getting morning sun exposure is probably one of the best ways to get better sleep at night! Bright sunlight is an important messenger that sets our circadian rhythm – also known as the body clock or sleep-wake cycle (1). When your body is sensitised to natural light signals, it becomes efficient at telling you when to wake up and when it's time to sleep. Plus, sunlight exposure is essential to produce vitamin D3, low levels of which are linked to sleep disorders (2).
When possible, we suggest aiming for 15-20 minutes of unfiltered sunlight exposure when you wake up in the morning and again around midday. Try having your coffee outside or eating breakfast next to a window with good natural light (even if it's cloudy). If circumstances allow, get outdoors to exercise! Research shows exercising in the morning increases overall time spent in deep sleep (3).
Tip: Make sure you load up on bioavailable antioxidants to protect your body from potential UV damage. Pure Health’s Liposomal Vitamin C is highly protective!
2. Create the Right Environment
Most of us need certain things to fall asleep and stay asleep; namely darkness, quiet, and a cool room.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest culprits behind poor sleep lurks in almost all bedrooms: blue light from light bulbs and electronic devices! This confuses your brain and slows the release of melatonin – the 'sleep hormone' – needed to prepare you to wind down and fall asleep (4).
It's important to prepare your bedroom for a good night’s rest by removing all electronics and blue-light emitting devices (think smartphones, laptops, and tablets). Blackout curtains and eye masks are also a great way to reduce light exposure.
In addition to this, the following tips can help you create an atmosphere that encourages good sleep quality:
- Keep your room well ventilated and at a cool 18 degrees Celsius
- Invest in a comfortable mattress along with soft pillows, sheets, and blankets
- Use earplugs to reduce noise
3. Have a Bedtime Snack
A heavy meal close to bedtime is a major no-no – it can cause digestive discomfort and disrupted sleep. However, eating something small before bed can help balance blood sugar and give your body the raw materials needed to make sleep-promoting brain chemicals.
A balance of carbohydrates and protein – especially foods containing tryptophan and glycine – is key for good sleep. This may include a small amount of yoghurt, turkey, nuts, or bone broth paired with some whole grain bread, root vegetables, honey, or fruit.
4. Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule
The human brain loves routine; it's the ideal tool to help you fall asleep quickly. A bedtime routine creates an association in your brain and re-trains your circadian rhythm to let you know when it's time to wind down. The key is keeping a regular sleep-wake schedule – going to bed and waking up around the same time every day.
We also suggest adding these habits to your bedtime routine:
- Avoid artificial blue light from screens 1-2 hours before bed or install a blue light blocking app on your devices
- Wind down by having a relaxing bath or doing some gentle yoga for 15 minutes
- Listen to an audiobook, meditate, or focus on your breathing before going to sleep
Stick to your routine every day to train your brain. This means no lying in on weekends – get up at the set time and start your day (preferably with some sunlight).
5. Skip the Wine
Passing out when your head hits the pillow after a few drinks gives you the impression that alcohol promotes sleep. But alcohol has a major disrupting effect on overall sleep quality! It impacts the time spent in the deep stage of sleep known as REM sleep (5).
If you want to prioritise rest and recovery, limit your alcohol consumption in the evenings. Instead, opt for sparkling water, herbal tea, and caffeine-free beverages in the 3-4 hours leading up to bedtime.
6. Don't Stress About It
The worst thing for sleep is worrying about not getting enough sleep! This creates a stress cycle that will only fuel the sleepless fire. Instead, diverting your attention away from sleep may just help you feel sleepy.
We love using a breathing technique called 'cadence breathing' to calm the nervous system. Inhale through the nose for a count of 4 into the belly and exhale slowly through the mouth for a count of 6. Repeat this for 5-10 minutes and you'll be off to dreamland.
Wishing you sweet dreams from us at Pure Health!