Proper sleep is crucial for health and balance, and light therapy can play a big role in your sleep cycle and your circadian rhythms. If you want to get the best of your sleep time, here are 5 tips:
1. Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine at Night
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that you should avoid beyond the early afternoon. Most people need hours to process caffeine and overcome the jolt it gives you. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks afternoon if you can, but definitely lay off the coffee and soda at night. Drinking alcohol at night can make it seem easier to fall asleep, but in reality, it’s closer to sedation. Try to have your last drink of the evening with dinner, so your body has a few hours to process it before hitting the proverbial sack.
2. Get Active When You’re Awake
Our body’s activity level has its own circadian rhythm. When we’re awake, we’re designed to move. Exercise, especially in the morning or early afternoon, can help you sleep better at night. Regular exercise raises your body temperature, and the cooldown period has a relaxing effect that promotes better sleep. By contrast, exercising later in the evening can make it more difficult to sleep because your body hasn’t fully recovered from activity mode.
3. Work on your Mental Health
The research is detailed: high amounts of stress throughout the day make it more difficult for our brains to relax and sleep at night. If you have a stressful day, be mindful about claiming some relaxation in the evening with meditation, reading, walking, or whatever works for you. Bottom line: prioritize your peace of mind before getting into bed.
4. Keep Your Bedroom Temperature Cool
The human body decreases in temperature while we sleep. Our heart rate and breathing slow down to help regulate this temperature drop. You can give your body a better sleep environment if your bedroom is in the 18–24 degrees range. Hot rooms make it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep. Avoid waking up in sweat by keeping your bedroom cooler. It’s better for your sleeping rhythm if you don’t wake up several times in the night because you’re hot. These small disruptions can build up and lead to larger sleep problems.
5. Get the Right Amount of Healthy Light
Don’t overlook the importance of light for your sleep quality. Your body and brain respond to the light you’re exposed to during the day, and some kinds of light are better than others when it comes to your sleep quality. You should absolutely try to get outside every day and take in natural sunlight. However, blue light from screens is extremely bright and can trick your brain and disrupt your sleep hormones, especially at night.
Blue light has been a big advancement for screen technology that’s made our phones and computers so powerful. But this bright, artificial light can have major negative effects on our sleep quality. Blue light is so bright that it can trick our brains and bodies into thinking it’s time to be alert and awake. Blue light from a screen has a very high color temperature. It’s even brighter than standing outside on a sunny day. If you look at your phone in bed, your brain is getting the message that it needs to be alert.
Sources and References:
Sleep Foundation. How Exercise Impacts Sleep Quality
Healthline. What Is The Best Temperature for Sleep?
Konturek PC, Brzozowski T, Konturek SJ. Gut clock: implication of circadian rhythms in the gastrointestinal tract. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011 Apr.
St-Onge AP, Mikic A, and Pietrolungo C. Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Advances in Nutrition. 2016 Sept.
Sleep Foundation. Stress and Insomnia.