Sleep Health Articles

Your Ultimate Good Sleep Guide

It can make you sluggish, less alert, and a little grumpy— it’s a bad night’s sleep, and it happens to everyone.

A bad night’s sleep is bound to happen now and then; however, not sleeping well, especially if it’s happening often, takes a major toll on the body. There is a reason why the average human will spend one third of their life sleeping, and it’s because sleep is a vital part of living. While we sleep our blood pressure drops, our muscles relax, tissue repair and growth takes place, hormones are released and energy is restored. [1] With so many important functions occurring, it’s crucial to ensure we are getting a good night’s sleep each night.

How Much Sleep Do I Really Need?
According to Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, the amount of sleep individuals require each night varies greatly on age and lifestyle, but the majority of adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night in order to optimally function. [2]

Some studies [3] have shown that cognitive functions decline when healthy adults do not receive at least seven hours of sleep nightly. In short, aim to get at least seven hours of sleep every night.

What is Circadian Rhythm & How Does It Effect My Sleep?
Circadian Rhythm is our internal clock that signals our brain when it’s time to go to sleep and time to wake up. Time, light and the melatonin hormone affect this internal clock. When the internal clock is functioning properly, the body releases melatonin in the bloodstream as it starts to get dark out, which results in a drowsy feeling, and eventually stops releasing melatonin a few hours before daylight. Unfortunately, many individuals have an internal clock that doesn’t function correctly due to stress or lifestyle practices and circumstances.

Individuals who have difficulties falling asleep may have an irregular internal clock or a melatonin deficiency and could benefit from a sleep aid tablet such as melatonin capsules. Supplementing with slow release melatonin may help restore a healthy Circadian Rhythm in adults, resulting in a better, more routine sleep schedule.

What Can I Do In The Day To Sleep Better?
There are many things that can be done throughout the day to promote a peaceful sleep:

  • Exercise, but at least three hours before bedtime. Several studies have shown that exercise promotes healthy sleep patterns. [4] Exercising in the morning or several hours before you go to bed gives your body time to balance the cortisol hormones that are released during exercise.
  • Spend time in the sunlight. Natural light helps regulate the body’s Circadian Rhythm, so even going outside for a few minutes several times a day may help maintain a healthy biological clock, and may counteract a melatonin deficiency.
  • Refrain from caffeine. A study found that consuming caffeine within six hours of going to bed resulted in a more disturbed, less peaceful sleep, and researchers recommend refraining from caffeine for at least six hours before bed. [5]
  • What Can I Do In The Evening To Sleep Better?
  • To make it easier to fall asleep fast and have a good night’s rest, follow these simple rules:
  • Turn down the lights and turn off the screen. Bright lights in the evening can throw off the body’s natural (release of melatonin) response to the darkness of the evening. Refraining from technology for an hour or so before bed may also promote a calm, less stimulated mood, making it easier to fall asleep fast.
  • Create a relaxing ritual. Many individuals benefit from using relaxing aromatherapy for sleep or taking a warm bath an hour or so before going to sleep. These soothing routines may help calm the mind and body, while helping to restore the natural workings of the internal clock.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night. This practice will not only help alert your body when to naturally release melatonin, but it may also help you develop a healthy sleeping ritual that leaves you waking up refreshed.
  • Utilize natural sleep aids. Some of the best herbal sleeping tablets are: valerian root, slow released melatonin, chamomile, lavender and St. John’s Wort.

How Can I Have More Energy In the Morning?
The most obvious way to wake up more energized is to ensure you’re getting a full eight hours of sleep at night, but there are other techniques that may help you feel more energetic during the morning hours:

  • Drink water. The body had eight hours without water, and it’s necessary to rehydrate. This practice is not only good for rejuvenating yourself in the morning, but it also promotes overall health and vitality throughout the day.
  • Exercise in the morning. Exercising in the morning may not only help you jumpstart your day and feel less tired, but the hormone cortisol is released during exercise, which can promote healthy cognitive functions.
  • Enjoy the morning sunlight. Opening the window or going for a walk may help signal your internal clock that it’s time to rise and shine.
  • Don’t push the snooze button. Although it can be tempting, the sleep you get between snooze alarms is not good quality, restful sleep, and it can result in a sleepier morning.

1.Foundation, N.S. What Happens When You Sleep. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from National Sleep Foundation

2. NHS, C. a. Wellbeing – Sleep. Retrieved March 16, 2015, from NHS Foundation Trust

3. Clear, J. (2014, July 21). The Beginners Guide to Getting Better Sleep. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from Entrepreneur

4. Reynolds, G. (2013, August 21). How Exercise Can Help Us Sleep Better. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from Well Blog New York Times

5. Drake C; Roehrs T; Shambroom J; Roth T. Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. J Clin Sleep Med 2013;9(11):1195-1200.