Sleep is a complex and rather interesting experience that every human on planet earth experiences for a good 25-30% of their lives. If you allow that number to sink in for a second, you can see how vital sleeping is for us. Yet despite that number, our culture often neglects sleep and cuts back on it because of the classic go-go lifestyle that is appealing to "go-getters". We often do not value sleep like we should and many maintain a mentality geared towards powering through life and convincing themselves they don’t need quality sleep.
This mindset is vicious and can lead people to use stimulants, energy drinks, processed sugar in many forms, and alcohol to attempt to gain a boost. Regardless, many who know the potential of long-term negative outcomes that can arise with this kind of behavior continue to engage in it.
It’s important to realize that there is a perfect sleep environment that many of us seem to gravitate towards and need to set for ourselves to experience the best sleep possible. We all know the feeling of getting a good night's rest. We feel like we can conquer and do anything we set an intention to. With that in mind, lets delve into some helpful sleep strategies that you can start incorporating tonight.
Sleep Strategy #1: Getting to Bed Before 11:00 PM
This one is crucial in so many ways. The biggest reason is that between the hours of 10 PM and 2 AM, the most voluminous release of human growth hormone occurs. Also, our deepest and most restorative sleep occurs during this time period. This big surge in human growth hormone (HGH) release is vital for a variety of purposes like assisting your body to burn fat efficiently, utilize glucose effectively, repair lean body tissue, regenerate cellular repair and enhance immune function. If you ever find yourself waking up beat tired in the morning, then chances are you likely missed this window and went to bed too late, which only allowed yourself to get into a lighter phase of sleep. After 2 am, we enter a light phase of sleep.
Sleep Strategy #2 : Be Mindful of Blue Light Exposure Before Bedtime
This strategy can make a big difference. Yet it is also one of the hardest ones to take control. With technology and our smart phone devices at our finger-tips 24/7, it’s easy to let blue light derail your circadian rhythm. Did you know that exposure to blue light at night can increase insulin resistance and cause higher peak glucose levels (1)? In fact, some studies suggest that blue light exposure, especially before bed, can disrupt melatonin production. Even more interesting is that some folks who have difficulty with producing melatonin might have a higher risk of developing cancer (2).
Sleep Strategy #3: Consider Certain Sleep Supportive Nutrients
Certain nutrients like magnesium l-threonate, magnesium glycinate, hemp derived CBD oil stacked with lemon balm, GABA and ashwagandha can facilitate a good night’s sleep. Certain B vitamins, like vitamin B6 and B12, are effective at this too. Eating adequate whole food sources of carbohydrates in the evening can be helpful as well.
Did you know that magnesium l-threonate has the capacity to pass the blood brain barrier and assist in boosting alpha brain waves? The alpha waves help promote relaxation and help to encourage one to get into the deep delta restorative phase of sleep. Glycine, which is found in magnesium glycinate and in foods, like bone broth, cheese, grass-fed meats, beans, leafy greens, cabbage and pumpkin seeds seems to help with daytime sleepiness and general fatigue that many people experience throughout the day according to a study that looked at the effects of glycine on daytime performance in semi-sleep restricted healthy volunteers (3).
I hope these sleep strategies shed light on an important topic of health and vitality for you. One final note I want to mention and emphasize is that you can be eating all the right foods, exercising/moving daily, meditating, and play-time, but if your sleep is not dialed in, you will not perform at your peak and be the best version of yourself. Give some of these strategies a try and lets us know what works for you.