Today’s fast paced, screen driven, high stress world makes both neglecting sleep and poor quality sleep a part of everyday life. We know it’s important, but it’s the first thing we cut down on to make room for something else. So if you are feeling the drag what can you do to improve your sleep and perform your best? A BUNCH - but we’ll keep this to my top 3.
1. Turn Down & Chill Out Your Environment
When it gets dark at night, our bodies detect the shift in in light and start preparing for sleep. Our stress hormone cortisol decreases, and our sleep hormone melatonin increases. The human body isn’t able to distinguish light from the sun from the blue light of computers, TVs, phones, and other electronic sources. When we spend all evening typing away on a computer, scrolling through Facebook, or watching TV our body doesn’t realize it’s time to get sleepy; instead it thinks it’s the middle of the day.
Taking efforts to reduce the amount of artificial light in both your evening and sleeping environment can have a huge impact on sleep duration and quality. Hanging black out curtains in your bedroom, using strips of electrical tape to cover small lights from TV boxes and power buttons, and using a sleep mask are all simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of light in your environment. But what about your nighttime computer and TV routine? Using “blue blocker” or amber glasses allows you to enjoy the pleasantries of modern technology, while letting your body know it’s dark outside and time to wind down. I'll admit I was a big skeptical of them at first, but it's really amazing at what a difference they make in inducing sleepiness.
Keeping your home between 60 and 68 degrees F each night is also helpful. It might be an adjustment, but our bodies naturally cool down as we sleep. Assisting the process encourages us to fall asleep quicker and promotes deeper rest. Studies also show that sleeping between 60-68 degrees will help your body to release melatonin, which has anti-aging effects - sleep better and look better!
2. Set a Relaxing Routine
Do you find yourself unable to turn off your brain at night? Replaying conversations, check lists, and emails in your head? Try setting a sleep routine. Be sure to include time to let go of the day’s stress before hitting the pillow. A hot bath, cup of tea, diffusing essential oils, yoga, or light stretching can all help you wind down. Including a few minutes to journal or release whatever thoughts you are hanging on to can also be helpful. Sticking with your pre-bed routine and going to sleep and waking at the same time will help your body naturally shift into sleep mode.
3. Medical Cannabis
For those of us with chronic pain, anxiety, or significant insomnia lifestyle changes will help, but they usually aren’t enough. Between my chronic pain and anxiety I often wondered if I’d ever sleep well again. I’ve tried a variety of prescription and supplemental sleep aids over the years and they all came with unpleasant and disruptive side effects. The first night I took a medical cannabis capsule for sleep, I knew my life was forever changed. All cannabis delivery methods can promote sleep, but indica dominant oral medications & edibles are especially helpful for people who wake up throughout the night as effects can last 6-8 hours. Pairing your nightly cannabis medicine with a cup of chamomile tea or a lavender foot soak can help amplify the soothing and sedating effects of cannabis. To obtain your Florida Medical Cannabis card and certification, come meet with me at Florida Medical Cannabis Clinic.
Article also published in the NUSASun.