With the increased pressures of life and devices replacing the childhood teddy, it’s no wonder that the quality of your sleep might be suffering. Adults should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night, 8 is even better. As well as hours, you need quality!
Melatonin and Sleep
A hormone called melatonin is the reason that we sleep. This hormone is released from a part of our brain called the pineal gland when we are exposed to darkness. Hence we can disrupt melatonin production by being exposed to bright lights. Melatonin regulates our sleep cycles and starts to rise about two hours before bedtime.
So how can you get a better night’s sleep?
Make sure your room is cool, dark, and quiet. The ideal temperature is around 18–22 °C along with a room that is pitch black, which encourages maximal melatonin production. If your partner snores try using ear plugs to reduce noise exposure. Try these tips to maximise the quality of your sleep:
- Leave electronic devices out of the bedroom – the light from devices disrupts the production of melatonin, deregulating our sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and drinking excessive liquids 3–4 hours before bed.
- Avoid excessive alcohol before bed – although a sedative, alcohol disrupts quality of sleep by causing you to stir or wake when blood-alcohol levels start to fall.
- Do not turn on the bathroom light in the middle of the night. A dim light is a better option to guide you at night
- Taking work to bed with you will increase stress-hormone production, which in turn reduces melatonin production so leave your work in the office.
- Reduce the time you spend co-sleeping with children and pets.
- Wind down in the evening by dimming the lights, keeping a peaceful environment and stopping work 1–2 hours before bed.
- Try relaxation techniques regularly e.g. meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing.
Going to bed earlier is better than going to bed later, even if we get the same amount of sleep. This is because sleep quality has been scientifically shown to be best in the early hours of the evening.
Dr Cris is an integrative medical doctor, author, corporate speaker, and media doctor. As an expert in integrative medicine Dr. Cris specialises not just in treatment of illnesses, but in the attaining of optimum health. She has particular interests in preventative health, lifestyle medicine, hormone health, weight loss, fatigue and sleep problems, digestive issues, as well as women’s health. Read more about her here