Your body needs consistent, quality sleep to function at its best. From rational thought to your emotional state, your overall health and well being depends on how well you snooze and the consistency of the times you are asleep and awake. In this third installment of my series on sleep, you will learn about circadian rhythms and how they impact your overall health. In addition, you will get some easy lifestyle change recommendations and tips to improve the quality of your sleep, and in turn, feel better than ever!
Circadian Rhythms and their Role in Your Health and Wellness
Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. They are found in most living things and respond primarily to light and darkness in the environment. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is an example of a light-related circadian rhythm. The National Institute for General Medical Science tells us circadian rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone and melatonin release, eating habits and digestion, body temperature, and other important bodily functions. For that reason, consistent bed times and wake times are the keys to getting a good night’s sleep and maintaining overall good health. Disrupted or irregular rhythms have been linked to various chronic health conditions, such as sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.
Sleep Better with These Simple Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle adjustments can greatly improve your quality of sleep. These are simple adjustments that can have a big impact on your health, so consider the following. . .
- Incorporate more fish into your diet. According to Medical News Today, fatty fish may help improve sleep because they are a good source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, two nutrients that help regulate serotonin. In a 2014 study, participants who ate 300 g of Atlantic salmon three times a week for 6 months fell asleep more quickly and functioned better during the day than those who ate chicken, beef, or pork with the same nutritional value.
- Reduce sugar intake. Sleep.org reports the more sugar that you eat during the day, the more often you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t fully wake up, the sugar in your system can pull you out of a deep sleep. That can make you feel exhausted the next day.
- Get plenty of exercise. This will reduce stress and anxiety, especially in the morning and early afternoon. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—which reduces stress and improves the ability to sleep.
- Drink less water before bedtime. You can reduce sleep interruptions if you don’t have to get up to go to the bathroom.
- Limit your caffeine intake, especially in the late afternoon or evening. It’s no secret caffeine is a stimulant and can make it hard to fall asleep. In additional to that, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm.
- Avoid alcohol before bed time. A glass of wine or a nightcap can help you to fall asleep quickly but it is disruptive to REM sleep. Additionally, it can cause disruptions in breathing. If you’ve read my article, What Happens to you When You Sleep, you know REM sleep is the dream and restoration phase of the sleep cycle. According to WebMD, a disruption in REM sleep can lead to daytime drowsiness and poor concentration. Additionally, disrupted breathing during sleep can lead to the disorder called sleep apnea.
Tips to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
- Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day. That’s the sweet spot for most adults. Sleeping less or more can make you feel sluggish and lethargic.
- Keep a consistent bedtime and wake time every night, including weekends. This strengthens your circadian rhythms and trains your body for quality sleep.
- Get a good mattress and replace it at least every 10 years. Test it out so you know your preference. This isn’t the time to shop online.
- Make sure room temperature is right for you. Usually, a dark, cool, and quiet room is best.
- Decompress from work and other stress triggers. Start this process about an hour before you go to bed. It will clear your mind of thoughts that prevent you from falling asleep.
- Meditation and breathing exercises may help with anxiety prior to falling asleep.
- Turn off your mobile phone or leave it in another room.
- Block out external noise by avoiding television, computer time, work emails and tense conversations.
- Avoid large meals before bed that will be hard to digest.
- Chamomile Tea and CBD-infused tea, like the varieties available from Naturally. . .You, can help calm a body for sleep. As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor before starting a new herbal remedy.
When you are feeling your best, you have the energy and confidence to be your best. Learning about the role sleep plays in your overall health and how it impacts the way you feel is important to living the best life you can. We’ve covered a lot in this series of articles and given you the information to understand the process and impact it has. From the cycle, to disorders, to tips to improve the quality of sleep, Naturally. . . You is here with all the knowledge and tools needed to sleep better and improve your life. If you want to discuss this or any health and wellness topic, visit our site for a live chat, anytime. I look forward to speaking with you soon.