When it comes to recovery & performance, sleep it king! Proper quality & quantity of sleep is essential! In this blog post, I’ll share 3 tips to help you improve your sleep so that you can look, feel, & perform your best!
- Light exposure - Perhaps the most important factor to consider when discussing sleep is light! Healthy light intake is essential for sleep & maintaining your circadian rhythms, particularly the sleep/wake cycle. Our brain interprets light as a sign of when to be awake & when to be asleep! The sleep/wake cycle is designed around the sun, which means that getting adequate amounts of natural sunlight throughout the day can do wonders for your sleep! Artificial lighting (laptop, tv screen, cell phone) can be detrimental for your sleep! If you’re exposed to bright artificial lighting at night, your body may be tired, but your brain is getting the message that it’s time to be awake. Too much bright, artificial light after dark can make it much more difficult to sleep and establish a healthy wake/rise schedule. [1 ] Two key hormones that are involved heavily in the sleep/wake cycle is cortisol & melatonin. Cortisol levels are high throughout the day to help keep us awake & low during our deepest sleep. Bright artificial light can stimulate cortisol levels that keep you awake, as documented in clinical studies. . Melatonin is another hormone directly responsible for helping you fall & stay asleep is also regulated by light intake. Bright light, especially bright blue light from phones and computers, has been shown to disrupt melatonin production. . One way that I supplement my natural light intake is with the use of red light therapy, which emits red & NIR light. More information on that to come in a later post.
- Partake in regular exercise - Exercise is essential to your overall health & wellbeing. Even small amounts of exercise can have a profound impact on your body & mind. Numerous studies have explored the link between exercise & sleep with the majority concluding that exercising can help improve sleep quality. It increases the overall amount of time you spend asleep, as well as the amount of time you spend in slow wave sleep. [4, 5]. The most obvious way exercise helps you sleep is that it physically tires you out & increases your sleep drive or need for sleep. When you exercise your body naturally wants to recover & sleep is a great way to recover. Another way exercise assists with sleep is by providing significant amounts of stress relief, which is strongly associated with sleep issues. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins . These chemicals give you that post-exercise high, boosting your mood while reducing stress.
- Prepare your environment - When it comes to optimizing your sleep at night you want a dark, cool, & quiet room to fall asleep in. We previously learned how light affects the sleep/wake cycle & melatonin production so ensuring your room is as dark as possible will encourage sleep latency & quality. One of the ways I make sure that my environment is dark is with the use of a mantra sleep mask. Black curtains are also a great way to ensure your room is as dark as possible. An often overlooked environmental factor when it comes to sleep is room temperature. Higher body core temperature is associated with staying alert & awake, while a lower core temperature is best for inducing sleep. This is why, believe it or not, the best bedroom temperature for sleep is approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius). Cool room temperatures encourage sleep. It’s no surprise that a quieter room is better for sleep than a louder one. Loud noise disturbances can cause severe sleep fragmentation & disruption, which in turn can have negative impacts on your physical & mental health . Strive to keep your bedroom as quiet as possible. Some individuals, like myself, prefer to have ambient noise & or white noise such as a fan turned on during sleep.
So there you have it! 3 important tips you can use to help you optimize your sleep!
 Duffy J, Wright K. Entrainment of the Human Circadian System by Light. Journal of Biological Rhythms. 2005 Aug.
 Jung C, Khalsa S, et al. Acute Effects of Bright Light Exposure on Cortisol Levels. Journal of Biological Rhythms. 2010 Jun.
 Harvard Health. Blue light has a dark side. Published 2012 May, updated 2020 July.