If you are interested in sleep science you need to first learn that there is a difference between ‘sleep’ and ‘restful sleep’. Most people go to bed close their eyes and let their body rest, but their mind is still very active. Stress, caffeine, late night workouts, and just a busy life makes it hard to recharge. So how do we do this?
Well there are a couple of things, but first lets start off with Melatonin (Mela-Tone-Inn). This beautiful hormone is naturally released by your pituitary gland and is responsible for setting up your brain for sleep, mostly at night. It is responsible for regulating your 24-hour body cycle which is also known as your circadian rhythm. Now remember that happy hormone called Serotonin? Well, serotonin is the precursor to melatonin so if your body is not producing proper amounts of serotonin your sleep may be interrupted, you may just be sleeping and not receiving full rest, and your brain and body chemistry will just be off.
The opposite of depression is not contentment or happiness, it is VITALITY. Quite simply, there are a few indicators of your overall health and these are:
- Restful Sleep (Energy)
- Appetite (Do not confuse this with Hunger)
- Libido/Sex Drive (Vigor/Thirst for Life)
Now melatonin pretty much accumulates throughout the day gradually until it is time for bed and studies are showing that melatonin has more benefits than just sleep. As a matter of fact, melatonin is a very powerful antioxidant and plays a role in inflammation, aging, and even pregnancy (it modulates two hormones known as progesterone and prolactin which we will post about later).
So how do we raise melatonin production naturally?
- Expose yourself to more daylight, particularly in the morning time. The quicker your brain realizes that it is daytime, the moment it knows it is time to start serotonin production which will eventually carry on into healthy melatonin levels.
- Go to bed early, now this sounds easier than it sounds.
- Limit Caffeine at night time and try and replace it with something soothing such as chamomile or herbal tea.
- Indulge in tropical fruits specifically bananas, pineapples, and oranges!
- Limit exposure to your iPhone screen (download the app F.lux which warms up the lighting)
- Lower the temperature in your room (65-70 degrees Celsius). Studies show that cold weather actually helps us sleep deeper resulting in more rest.
- Try a magnesium supplement, start off with 250 mgs. Jarrow Formula, Thorne Research, or Country life are all great brands.
- Be active even if it is hard. If you are not tired and exhausted by the time you hit your bed, you did not challenge yourself enough!
- Sleep on your right side or your back. When you sleep on your left side you compress your lungs and heart making it harder for the body to relax.
- Practice breathing through your nose and out with your mouth. Not only does it calm your mind but more efficient oxygen allows for deeper and more restful sleep.