I am the last one to be giving advice about sleep, even though I’m aware of the health benefits including improved mood, insulin sensitivity, weight loss, immune function and better cognitive status.
I’ve been a poor sleeper since my internship days; constant night calls for the past 40 years have done that. I know what I should be doing, but don’t necessarily follow through.
Reading Rob Wolf’s book, “Wired to Eat”, I came upon some great suggestions that we might use. Like eating however, knowing what to do, and doing it, are two different beasts. I will work on these, and hopefully, those of you who struggle with getting adequate sleep will also.
1. We need to establish our circadian rhythm. So, get outside when you can to get exposure to the sun. Ideally in the morning, but anytime will do. Even in the winter we can get good sun exposure by walking at noon.
2. Our evenings should be in darker cooler environments. He suggests dimming the lights and getting blue blocking glasses if watching TV or using your smartphone or tablet.
3. Limit evening tech. If you watch TV use your blue glasses and change your smart phone or tablet to night mode. We need to minimize our exposure to the harsh light as this affects melatonin.
4. Sleep in a cool room. Studies suggest 64 to 69F or 19C is ideal.
5. Sleep in a very dark room. Phones or tablets should be in a drawer. Do the same thing if you have an alarm clock; minimize all light (again, more melatonin).
6. Keep a journal. If you tend to ruminate, write down the things that are bothering you or things you want to accomplish tomorrow. As we write, we create solutions to the never ending chatter in our brains.
7. This I may try! Rob alternates hot and cold water in his shower before bed. 10 seconds warm and 20 seconds cool. He will do this 5 or 10 times and then dry off and head straight to bed. It’s felt this technique may reset our circadian rhythms.
8. Make a consistent schedule and stick to it. Set an alarm for bedtime – when the alarm goes off, turn everything off and head to bed.
9. Be careful what you eat and really avoid night snacks. The more stable our blood sugar and insulin the less likely we will be awoken due to release of cortisol that is trying to stabilize sugar drops.
That’s it. Just some thoughts. He also suggested one could look up Dr. Parsley’s supplement formula for sleep. Normally I would avoid these suggestions, but Dr. Parsley is a physician to the navy seals, who have severe sleep disruption due to night missions and so on. I’ve listened to him talk about this. I will leave this to you to research. I may try, but I know supplements are unlikely to work unless I develop better habits around bed time.
Most important – blue light glasses to block the glare from tablets, TV, computers and phone.
We must try to increase our melatonin levels.
Sleep is paramount for weight loss!
Keep it up. Keep trying. Never give up searching for what works for you towards better health.