If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll have realised that we’re often about the simpler things in life and how small changes can make huge differences to our health. One of those things includes sleep.
Deep down we know that sleep is super important to our health, and we should really prioritise it, but in a world that never sleeps, are there tried and tested ways that can help us nail our sleep hygiene?
Well, there are a few and we’ve popped them all together.
And we’re not talking about that punishment for your kids. Studies have shown that walking barefoot outside (where safe – think on the grass in the garden) improves both sleep and mood. To understand why, we need to revisit our science lessons. The surface of the Earth contains a limitless and continuous renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. When the body comes into contact with them, they can enter the body. It is thought that these electrons have wide ranging effects on the body’s immune and inflammatory responses. It is also thought that the Earth’s potential plays a role in setting body clocks, regulating the diurnal body rhythm and also cortisol secretion. In patients suffering disturbed sleep, grounding is associated with:
- Falling asleep more quickly,
- Fewer times waking during the night,
- Improved fatigue levels in the morning,
- Increased daytime energy,
The more time spent grounding the better!
Natural light as close to sunrise and sunset helps to reorganise and structure the body’s natural sleep and wake cycle. Melatonin is the main hormone we are interested here; it regulates night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin signals the body for sleep, and it is produced when it’s dark. Light decreases melatonin production which signals the body for wakefulness. If we’re exposed to false light at night, melatonin production is reduced, meaning we stay awake for longer. So, try to keep your light exposure as close to the normal sleep-wake cycle as possible.
On the subject of light, blue light from computers, tablets or televisions is the number one enemy when it comes to sleep. As we mentioned, artificial light suppresses melatonin production. Not only that but engaging in that heated discussion on social media just before bed results in your body amping up, not calming down!
Consider looking at blue blockers for screen time and try to disconnect from technology completely for a couple of hours before bed.
If you can, open your window a crack at night – if you aren’t comfortable with this, try to open your window for 30 minutes before bed and then close it again. Also consider having houseplants in your bedroom too. Some of the best “oxygen boosting” plants include:
- English Ivy,
- Aloe Vera,
- Areca Palm,
- Snake Plant,
- Peace Lily
These guys are also great for purifying the air by eliminating harmful compounds.
Try to say that on a Friday night – sadly it’s likely where you’ll find the source of excitotoxins! Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is an excitotoxin found in many processed foods, like takeaways. They are generally added for flavour or as a preservative. The issue, like the name suggests is that they are excitatory, meaning that excess amounts can excite neurons to the point of death. Neurons are found in the nervous system, and they are the cells responsible for receiving input from the environment and sending commands out. So, if they are overexcited, you can see how you end up with an overexcited nervous system, which, isn’t a great recipe for a good night’s sleep.
You tend to find excitotoxins in processed foods but they do go by a range of names including:
- E numbers,
- BHT and other preservatives,
Sleep is such an important aspect of our health, and one we often don’t prioritise. If you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, perhaps some of our top tips are worth a shot.