In light of Sleep Awareness Week, I wanted to share some science-based strategies that have helped improve my sleep significantly. I have struggled with insomnia as well as poor sleep quality & duration in the past. I no longer struggle with these issues thanks to implementing an evening routine. My routine comprises science-based strategies to reduce insomnia and improve sleep quality & duration. So if you have struggled like me, give my evening routine a try!
⏩ Invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Start wearing 2 hours prior to your intended bedtime (or even as early as sunset). If you are in front of a computer or tv all day, then I also recommend investing in a pair of daytime blue light blocking glasses. Blue light suppresses melatonin (the sleep hormone) & enhances cortisol (the stress hormone).
⏩ Take a magnesium and fish oil supplement with your last meal. Magnesium has been shown to reduce anxiety by 31% and fish oil has been shown to reduce anxiety by 20%. Anxiety suppresses melatonin and is an underlying cause of insomnia. Omegas 3 & 6 may also boost sleep quality and aid falling asleep faster.
⏩ Consume last meal 3-4 hours prior to bed.
⏩ Apply lavender oil to the insides of both wrists and soles of feet 2 hours prior to bedtime. Research shows lavender reduces anxiety by 45% which is just 1% below sleeping pills at 46%. Alternatively, you may use a lavender diffuser.
⏩ No electronics or screen time 1-2 hours before bedtime. Engage in consistent pre-bedtime activities that emphasise relaxation and do not involve screens or significant exposure to artificial light.
⏩ Take a lukewarm shower 1 hour before bed. As the body cools post shower, it produces melatonin. (Reapply lavender to wrists and feet.)
⏩ Drink chamomile tea. Apigenin, an antioxidant found in chamomile, bonds to specific receptors in the brain that may decrease anxiety and initiate sleep.
⏩ Take melatonin supplement 60-30 mins before bed.
⏩ Set bedroom temperature to 18-21 degrees C (69-72 F). Research shows a high body temperature suppresses melatonin. It is important to maintain a clean, cool and dark bedroom that is free of electronic devices.
⏩ Sleep with a weighted blanket. In a recent study, 63% of people reported feeling less anxious when using a weighted blanket.
⏩ Keep a consistent sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. When sleep has a regular rhythm, your biological clock will be in sync and all of your other bodily functions will go smoother, including your sleep.
💡Alcohol consumption (even a moderate drink or two) impairs sleep quality by 24% including a reduction in REM sleep. Too little REM sleep can have a devastating effect on the brain and body. REM sleep is also when the body burns the most calories. So if you are inclined to have a drink or two, limit it to 3 hours before bed (although earlier in the afternoon is best practice). Also, drink one glass of water for each alcoholic beverage too.
💡Gut health is also important and impacts sleep. 90% of seratonin (the happiness hormone) is produced in the gut microbiome.
Give these tips a try and let me know how you go!