Have you ever spent too much time in bed trying to fall asleep, but you couldn’t, or maybe you woke multiple times and couldn’t have a soothing, long sleep session?
Well, the odds are that at one point or another, you’ve experienced insomnia.
Insomnia refers to the inability to fall asleep or when someone excessively awakes during that night.
When we sleep, our brain is busy consolidating short-term memories into long-term memories.
Research has shown that persistent insomnia can have certain side effects on the body, including but not limited to:
- Greater fat mass
- Impaired cognitive function and problem solving
- Higher risk of insulin resistance and diabetes
- Decrease testosterone production and reduce its synthesis capacity
With that problem in mind, it’s fair to say that anyone experiencing insomnia needs a proper solution.
And the truth is that there isn’t a go-to supplement or a “sleep hack” because sleep pattern regulation is affected by various environmental and habitual factors.
Now let’s have a look at the most important ones and what anyone can do to bulletproof their sleep!
More exercise leads to better sleep. All kinds of exercise, ranging from meditative yoga to intense resistance training or aerobic exercise, have been shown to improve sleep quality and overall health (1).
Some people might wonder if night exercise is bad for sleep? Well, first of all, it is better than no exercise.
Nevertheless, you should be aware that exercise is associated with increased adrenaline production, leading to awakening.
In fact, one study found that high-intensity exercise in the evening disrupted REM sleep (2).
Exercising at night is better than nothing, but it would be better to exercise during the day.
Also, consider the fact that the human nervous system is primed to be most active during the day, meaning that working out at night may rob you of performance!
If nothing stops you from doing it, train during daylight and recover at night!
Consistent Sleeping Schedule
Almost all physiological changes in our body follow a 24-hour schedule, based on the guide of temperature and light.
This 24-hour schedule is known as our circadian rhythm.
Studies found that inconsistent sleep schedules can impair the quality of our sleep (3).
Going to bed at the same time daily will improve sleep quality and reduce sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep).
It would be even better if you try to have some kind of constant routine.
For example, taking a hot shower, brushing your teeth, or doing meditation.
These things can act as a signal for your brain, telling it that it is time to sleep.
Unfortunately, these days we have become addicted to our smartphones and laptops. Although these devices are great in many aspects, they can hurt our sleep.
Exposure to blue light, which is emitted by screens of smartphones and computers, lowers melatonin production.
And well, this can make it hard for you to fall asleep.
This was confirmed by many studies that found that light from smartphones reduced sleepiness in young adults (6).
You shouldn’t only avoid blue light for electronic devices. Still, you might also want to consider avoiding any source of bright light 1-2 hours before sleep.
Using blue-light blocking glasses or activating night mode on your device can also help reduce exposure to blue light.
Caffeine has numerous benefits for our health. However, you should be aware that it blocks the adenosine receptors in our brain, promoting alertness and enhancing mood.
One thing to note is that the body doesn’t become desensitized to this effect. This is why caffeine never loses its stimulating effect entirely.
Therefore, if you have been drinking lots of coffee for many years, don’t think that it no longer impacts you.
Caffeine has a 6-hours half-life. So, avoiding caffeine six hours before bedtime can be an excellent strategy to enhance sleep latency and improve sleep quality.
Now, if you have all of the above in check but still aren’t getting optimal results, then you may want to consider supplementation.
Supplements can be beneficial in that regard, and the best part is that science supports this statement!
Let’s have a look at the two most effective supplements for sleep - Melatonin & lavender.
Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland at night with a very controlled circadian rhythm.
It reaches its maximum plasma levels around 3 to 4 AM. Also, its production increases when it is dark.
Production of melatonin is found to correlate with increased sleep drive.
Melatonin can help reduce insomnia and improve sleep quality in children, adults, and the elderly, meaning that it is pretty much the best supplement for sleep regulation (4).
Besides melatonin which has a direct impact on your sleep chemistry, there are other supplements that can help you relax, unwind, and in turn, induce sleep.
Lavender can control insomnia, enhance relaxation, and improve sleep quality (5).
It is particularly helpful if your insomnia is due to stress or anxiety since lavender has a hypnotic effect on the brain.
Besides… It smells amazing.
Good sleep is a major cornerstone for a healthy life. It can help you perform better physically, mentally, and sexually.
Some tricks like avoiding blue light and caffeine before sleep can help enhance your sleep quality.
Adding exercise and having a fixed sleep schedule can help as well.
If you are still having a problem, many supplements like melatonin and lavender have been shown to control insomnia and improve sleep.
What are your go-to habits & products to use during times of restlessness?