While many of us like to bask in that extra hour of sleep Daylight Savings brings in the fall, it’s important to remember that it’s the quality of your sleep, not the quantity, that truly matters.
If you’re feeling the effects of the time change this week, the tips below may help you avoid hitting that snooze button again and again. And again. Slowly incorporate these good habits into your regular routine, and you’ll soon notice how much easier it is to fall (and stay) asleep. And you’ll definitely feel more energetic and alert during the day!
Take a break. Get into the habit of putting away all electronic devices one hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens on computers, cell phones, televisions and tablets impedes melatonin production, the hormone responsible for your sleep and wake cycles (a.k.a. your circadian rhythm). A reduction in this hormone makes it harder to fall asleep and often leads to disrupted sleep patterns.
Let there be dark! Even regular light interferes with melatonin production, so sleeping in complete darkness should help you get the sleep you need. In order for this to work, you’ll have to cover or remove any electronic devices, as well as your alarm clock and any night lights (sorry, kiddies!) as even the slightest exposure can interfere with your sleep. If you’re unable to block out all sources of light, it might be time to invest in a high-quality sleep mask.
Airplane mode isn’t only for airplanes. Did you know that switching your cell phone to airplane mode before bed could help you sleep more deeply? Because many people use their phone as an alarm clock, it is typically too close for comfort—like on the nightstand or under their pillow! If this sounds like you, turning off all cellular and wireless signals is a must. This simple act will help reduce the radiation exposure that can interfere with optimal sleep cycles.
Sleep in your birthday suit. Try keeping your bedroom at a temperature of approximately 19 degrees Celsius. While many of us like to snuggle up under flannel sheets while catching our ZZZs, our bodies need to cool down as we sleep. Consider foregoing your pyjamas completely! Sleeping in your birthday suit also helps increase metabolism and blood circulation, and lower blood pressure.
Stop and smell the lavender! Studies have shown that smelling lavender before bed can help achieve deeper sleep, making us feel more well rested come morning. If you need help winding down before bedtime, try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bath, on your pillow, or simply rub a few drops on the soles of your feet, wrists, or temples for an immediate calming effect.
FOOD AND DRINK
Open sesame! If you have trouble falling asleep (or staying asleep), you may be low in these two hormones: serotonin and melatonin. To help your body produce these essential sleep hormones, you’ll need to ramp up on your tryptophan intake. Try adding sesame or chia seeds to a small bowl of yogurt or cereal before bed. Just 100g of sesame seeds will provide 1000mg of tryptophan, and 100g of chia seeds will provide 700mg.
Stay calm and magnesium on. Considered the relaxation mineral, magnesium helps us switch off and induces a feeling of tranquility by stimulating the GABA receptors in our brain. GABA helps ease anxiety and minimizes those racing thoughts that keep us up at night and impact our sleep. The great thing about magnesium is that our bodies can absorb it in many different ways: We can eat high-magnesium foods like dark leafy greens, nuts, or dark chocolate (to name a few!), take it as an oral supplement, apply the oil directly to your skin, or soak in a bath of epsom salt baths.
Sip on this! Studies have shown that tart cherry juice is a natural source of both melatonin and tryptophan, and that both chamomile and valerian root can induce sleepiness and promote relaxation. So pour yourself a glass of cherry juice or sip on a cup of (chamomile or valerian root) tea to enjoy a deep and satisfying slumber!
Set an alarm to go to bed. You set your alarm to wake up in the morning, so why not remind yourself when it’s time to go to sleep? A good rule of thumb is to set your alarm approximately one hour before lights out, and begin your bedtime routine when it goes off. The alarm will act as a gentle nudge to turn off all electronic devices, take a relaxing bath, meditate or get into bed with a good old fashioned book.
Breaking your bad bedtime habits and getting into a good sleep routine will help you beat Daylight Savings drowsiness now and help prepare you to lose an hour when springtime rolls around!