SLEEP TIMING & SLEEP CHECKLIST
By including a routine that is designed for optimal sleep, you can enjoy your restful zzz’s. Here is a sleep timing checklist to help you get your sleep instead of counting sheep!
1. PRE-SET ROOM TEMPERATURE: <70˚F
Body temperature is strongly linked to sleep cycles. Generally four hours after falling asleep your body temperature is at its lowest. Researchers believe that a cooler bedroom may support sleep optimally, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop. Research shows that your body achieves its deepest sleep when the temperature is below 70˚F with some experts suggesting 65˚F as being ideal for sleep. 2
2. 6 AM : EXPOSURE YOURSELF TO NATURAL SUNLIGHT
Your daytime and nighttime hormones are influenced by light. Exposure to bright light first thing in the morning signals to the body to increase the production of your daytime hormones including cortisol and stop the production of your sleep hormones including melatonin.
Exercise gives us many benefits including a great night sleep. As each person is individual some find it best to exercise in the morning while others find that by exercising at night it seems to help their sleep. A poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 83 percent of people found that they slept better when they exercised (even late at night) compared to when they did not. 3
4. 12 NOON: GET 15 MINUTES OF ZEN & SUN
By relaxing and getting some noon sunlight your body will be set to produce the greatest amount of melatonin as its overall production is by the contrast of light during the day and the complete darkness at night. Indoor light is between 100 to 2000 lux units (a measure of light intensity) as compared to 100,000 lux units outdoors at noon. If you want to multitask for health benefits add a walk outdoors and you’ll be helping all of your sleep hormones including vitamin D. Want to turbocharge your sleep-wake cycle? Add a mini-nap or Zen time with catching some relaxing tunes as your body is naturally designed to have a down wave in cortisol and circadian rhythm at this time. Keep your nap time in the mini zone however, as any longer and you’ll move into the deeper zones of sleep which can lead
5. 4 PM: STOP DRINKING CAFFEINE
If you are drinking caffeinated beverages be sure and take your last sip in the early afternoon, as caffeine can linger for hours. Caffeine blocks a brain chemical called adenosine that normally helps you fall asleep.
6. 6 PM: REDUCE ALL LIGHTING
To work with your circadian rhythm, reduce all lighting to simulate the natural environment outside at 6 pm in the winter or 7 pm in the summer. You can shift to a low-wattage bulb with yellow, orange or red light (salt lamp illuminated by a 5-watt bulb will not interfere with your melatonin production). If you have to continue using IT devices use blue-blocking software such as flux on any IT/computer devices to reduce the overexposure to blue light that overstimulates our daytime hormones and may interrupt with the production of our night time hormones at night https://justgetflux.com/.
You can also just use amber-coloured glasses that block blue light (Amazon has some under $20 i.e. Uvex model (S1933X)). This is also a great option for those recovering from concussions as people with concussions are particularly sensitive to blue light and neurological overstimulation.
7. 7 pm: Stop Eating or Drinking
It is important that your blood sugar is optimal for optimal sleep. By having a dinner meal approximately 3 hours before sleep and not eating too much before bed will give your digestion a chance to rest versus taking energy to digest your food.
8. 8 PM: DAILY 3
It’s inevitable that if you have many things on your mind it will be harder to get your zzz’s . By writing down your daily 3 or action steps that you want to be sure to get accomplished the next day and setting it aside you can relax more knowing that the list is there to keep you focused and that you don’t need to worry about it before bed. Try using the Japanese Kanban system that I find extremely effective at helping me stay organized and focused when I need to be allowing me time to relax before bed.
9. 9 PM: WIND DOWN
Your daytime hormones and cortisol rise with exposure to morning light and during times of stress may shoot up causing you to run on adrenaline during the day. These elevated levels of daytime hormones including cortisol are too high to properly fall asleep and stay asleep. Thus when your body goes through the normal 90-120 minute cycles of sleep you may wake i.e. 2 am 3:30 am etc. Thus you will need to help your cortisol levels fall by relaxing and winding down, up to a few hours before bed if your sleepless nights are chronic. Enjoy reading a book with a dim night light, relaxing music or a warm bath to find your zen.
10. 10 PM: DRIFT OFF TO SLEEP
Feel free to play soft relaxing music with nature sounds or classical, which may help you sleep. 4
Ensure that your room is completely dark or wear an eye mask and all IT devices are turned off. To capture the most optimal hormone shift for sleep 10 pm is the ideal time to drift off as melatonin production begins between 9 and 10 pm. Most of us know that 8 hours of sleep per night is optimal. But what many people don’t know is that the actual time you fall asleep is important too. Sleeping from 1 am to 9 am is not thought to be as restorative as sleeping from 10 pm to 6 am.
The reason why is because hormone secretion, body temperature, digestion, and other important restorative processes follow a 24-hour cycle linked to natural light exposure. The later in the evening we fall asleep and the later in the morning we wake up, the more out-of-sync our cycle becomes. If you’ve ever gone to bed at 3 am and woken up the next morning at 11 am, you may have noticed that you feel worn down and not fully “with it”.
Growth hormone is one such restorative hormone. Eighty percent of growth hormone, which is needed for lean muscle, optimum immune function, and strong skin, is secreted during sleep between the hours of 11 pm and 1 am.
Try to go to bed before 10 pm. It may be difficult to get used to getting to bed at an early time, especially if you work late or if night-time is your only downtime and you like to watch late-night television. But you’ll be rewarded with increased energy.
Not Getting Your Sleep Contributes To:
Fatigue | Pain | Weight Gain | Heart Disease | Cancer | Stress | Aging | Mood & Memory Difficulties
Dr. Joël, ND’s Sleeping in Seattle Tea
• ¼ cup *Chamomile, dried herb
• ¼ cup *Lemonbalm, dried herb
• ¼ cup *Oatstraw, dried herb
• 2 tsp. each: turmeric, dried lemon zest & cinnamon (optional)
Mix all together and store in a glass container. Add 1 Tbsp. into a tea infuser and steep in 1 cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Enjoy and dream of “stars & circles” (as my son use to say before he fell asleep)!
*Dried Herbs- Can be found at your health food store or Mother Earth- on Richmond & Woodroffe
“The Perfect Day… Going To Bed With a Dream & Waking Up With a Purpose”
- 10 Tips For Getting Your Sleep Instead of Counting Sheep
- Sleep We All Need It But What If You Can’t Get It? 5 Stages of Sleep
- Top 10 Dreams What Do They Really Mean?
- 5 Foods To Promote Sleep
- Dr. Joël’s Sleepy Time Smoothie Bowl
- Sleep: Newsletter & Video
- Sleep: Food For a Good Night Sleep-Video
Dr. Joël, ND, Inspiring Health Naturally
REFERENCES & SOURCES:
1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/166553/less-recommended-amount-sleep.aspx, Retrieved December 28, 2016
2. National Sleep Foundation, Touch
3. National Sleep Foundation, 2013 Sleep in America Poll
4. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Aug 13;8:CD010459.
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