From improving memory capabilities, to weight loss, and even reducing chronic pain, there are countless positive effects of consistently good quality sleep. Your overall health, mental capacity and mood are all majorly affected by this crucial element in your life.
Bodybuilders and personal trainers often swear by 3 main components in weight loss and muscle gain: food, exercise, and sleep. While GuavaPass can help you stay healthy with a range of exercise options, and give you tips on eating well from The Daily Guava, sleep is going to need a little bit of homework. Thankfully, we’ve done the research for you – here’s how to start sleeping better, longer and easier.
Do not disturb
Nowadays, people are spending a considerable amount of time looking at a tablet, computer or phone screen before bed. Not to mention, a whopping 90% of 18-29-year-olds sleep with their phone beside them each night. What does this mean for your sleep?
To start with, exposing your eyes to the bright blue light used in smartphones mimics daylight, or is close enough to trigger your brain to think so. As a result, your body stops producing melatonin, your natural sleep hormone. Disruptions in your body’s natural melatonin production can result in greater time taken to fall asleep, with lower quality hours and a reduction in overall hours of REM.
Sleeping with your phone next to you can also have some major effects on your sleep. A study in 2008 found that people who were exposed to mobile radiation for a number of hours in the evening took longer to fall asleep. In addition to that, they ‘spent less time in a deep sleep’ and felt like they had a ‘lower quality sleep’ than without a phone nearby.
If your excuse is ‘my phone is my alarm clock’ the answer is very simple… buy an alarm clock!
Tonight – Leave your phone charging outside your bedroom and try to stop using it an hour before you go to sleep.
Another common cause of poor sleep is the lack of total darkness. Naturally, your sleep is at its most efficient when there is total darkness. It encourages the natural development of melatonin production leading up to and within the first few hours of your sleep. Additionally, the continuous exposure to light during sleep, even if it’s a small amount, can result in the production of cortisol, your body’s stress hormone.
Now, cortisol is useful in a lot of situations including periods of high-intensity exercise or emergency situations due to its ability to supercharge your nervous system and switch you into ‘fight or flight’ mode. However, this is not good before sleep. In fact, it can be extremely harmful to your health to have this hormone produced in such an important period of rest and recovery. Poor quality sleep, irritability and weight gain are just a few of the many side effects of melatonin and cortisol imbalances.
Tonight – if you think you’ll be unable to achieve complete darkness in your room, purchase a sleeping eye mask to block out any residual light.
In addition to complete darkness, silence is another extremely important factor for good quality sleep. Recent studies have shown that 70% of the population are exposed to higher than recommended levels of noise between the hours of 9 am to 9 pm. As a result, the need for absolute silence during sleep has become even more important. In 2013, a study on mice showed that even just 2 hours of silence led to the development of new brain cells associated with learning, memory and emotion. This type of regeneration and growth in the brain at night contributes to increased focus and cognitive improvements, over time leaving you more refreshed and alert in the mornings.
Tonight – if you know you’re going home to a loud household, or your neighbor is overly noisy, purchase some sponge earbuds from the supermarket or pharmacy to wear this evening. You can buy them in bulk for almost nothing, giving you no reason to not give them a try!