As Sportsluxe’s resident sleep specialist, it’s been a pleasure to raise awareness about why you’re sleep-deprived, the importance of diet for sleep and now, the scientific evidence of sleep solutions. You’ve probably heard of these, but without knowing the academic research behind it, you might be resistant to believe—and change. So that’s what I am here to deliver:
One study showed that 99% of people had their sleep delayed by 90 minutes after exposure to blue light. Yep. Get it out! What can you do about it?
The internet is addictive, literally. Each time you search and ‘find’ something on the night, researchers have found it activates the (dopamine) reward pathway in the brain, sending feedback to repeat this behaviour. Over time, this reward pathway malfunctions, meaning we are more reliant upon this action to feel good; and further, encourages feelings of disconnection, low self esteem and high stress. How many times have you said ‘just one chat’ or ‘just one TV show’ or ‘just one scroll on Instagram’ and then found yourself barrel deep in a scroll hole which you’re checking out some person in New York’s latest trip to Greece?
We’ve all been there (guilty). Replace this activity with another activity which similarly activates your all of your feel good hormones, such as serotonin and oxytocin too. Anything that genuinely connects you to others or genuinely connects you to yourself—real life conversations, being intimate with your partner, journalling, self reflection. By doing so, you’re more likely to cease the activity sooner (getting you to sleep faster) because it doesn’t purely focus on the dopamine reward pathway, which leads to addictive behaviour. What do you:
Recently, a study showed that after eight weeks of meditation, previous non meditators had changed their brain—their amygdala had shrunk, reducing reactivity to stress; prefrontal cortex, governing decision making, emotional control and rationalization, had strengthened—improving concentration and attention respectively. Yes—this is the reason yogi’s seem so zen! Biochemically, their thoughts are calmer, more rational and well organised. Meditation also helps reduce cortisol levels which, by the way, is the key reason you wake around 3-4am as this is the time it begins to peak. What you can do:
Note I said CURB not CUT. Caffeine is a highly potent stimulant which heightens (stress hormone) cortisol, energy and attentiveness—which can be a great vessel to accelerate us along our day. However, considering sleep, these are not qualities we would like to possess. See, excessive cortisol inhibits the production of melatonin, which makes us sleepy. S
Studies showed that drinking it within 6 hours of sleep still contributed to a sleep loss of 1 hour for participants—so cut it out for the afternoon, and at absolute latest, 2pm. If you can, do something called ‘Caffeine cycling’—where you detox for 72 hours and the drug (yes, it’s a drug!) completely leaves your body. As a result, the next coffee will create that intense buzz like you were a first time drinker. What to do:
Need help sleeping? Sign up for my FREE 21 Days of Sleep Tips Series, highlighting a sample of the physiological, psychological and nutritional changes you can make to improve your sleep tonight, and energy levels tomorrow. Or, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about my program, The Sleep Solution, and how it can transform your sleep, and restore you to your best self, inside and out.