Upcoming Issue Highlights
Home Subscribe Advertise Sourcebook Free Product Info Home

Improving Your Sleep: What Can Really Help?

Improving Your Sleep Improving Your Sleep
Longevity By Nature
 
EuroMedica

Quality sleep is crucial for feeling your best, looking your best and recovering after being awake all day long. But, many Americans are not getting quality sleep, meaning they are not in deep sleep for adequate periods of time and they don’t sleep through the night. This can lead to a multitude of not only health problems, but mood and mental health concerns as well. By ensuring you gain the correct amount and type of sleep, you can live every day energized and less moody, and prevent lifestyle related health complications.

There are two types of sleep known as non-REM and REM. REM stands for rapid eye movement and is found during deep sleep. Non-REM sleep includes all other stages of sleep and consists of a variety of different brain waves and muscle tones. REM sleep is important because this is when our bodies truly rest and recover. Getting enough REM sleep helps with digestion, mood and energy levels. It is also tied to many diseases. Research suggests that insufficient sleep is linked to the development of a multitude of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.1

Many people struggle to receive adequate sleep every night, and there are many factors that can attribute to this. First, our world is filled with technology. Technology means blue light. The blue light rays emitted from all of our electronics causes our sleep/wake cycles to be thrown off. Naturally, we wake when the sun rises and sleep when the sun sets. Yet some will lay restless due to the constant intake of blue light from our environments, tricking our bodies into thinking it is still sunny outside! Next, our diets are filled with processed ingredients and added sugars, as well as constant environmental ques saying we should eat like commercials and bedside mini refrigerators. This can not only lead to overeating, but also digestion disturbances at nighttime. While our body is supposed to be resting, it can be overrided by digestion processes. Finally, with the pandemic especially, our area to normally rest and relax has become a home office, filled with stress from every work day. With this, our bodies no longer associate our bedrooms as “sleep areas” and instead as a home office, living room and kitchen all in one. This causes confusion and disassociation between times of day and can also throw off our circadian rhythm.

These facts can feel daunting, but with simple changes and adding sleep supplements to your routine, you can prevent complications of poor sleep health and feel rested after a long night of quality sleep.

Say Goodbye to Blue Light at Night

Blue light has been shown to suppress melatonin, the exact hormone necessary to go to sleep. This has been shown to cause neurophysiological arousal in the brain, especially from electronic devices around bedtime.2 Luckily, this can be an easy fix and prevent insomnia. One tool is blue light glasses, which have amber tinted lenses that can be worn to block blue-wave length light. A randomized control trial showed that wearing amber tinted lenses two hours prior to bedtime significantly improved sleep quality and duration.2

Another tool you can use to prevent insomnia from blue light is to keep all electronics out of the bedroom. That means no TV, no computers and no phones in your vicinity when sleeping. If you rely on your phone as your alarm, try leaving it on the opposite side of your room and flipping it face down on a table. This prevents notifications from lighting up and exposing your sleeping self to blue light throughout the night.

Rethink Your Diet

One easy change you can make regarding your sleep is your diet and meal schedule. While we sleep, our bodies are building and repairing muscle tissue throughout our body, while simultaneously preparing our organs for the next day to come. The last thing the body wants to worry about when at rest is digestion! Many struggle with indigestion and stomach discomfort during sleep due to eating too late at night or right before bedtime. To prevent discomfort, stop eating three hours before bedtime.3

The contents of our diet throughout the day may also lead to poor sleep. This relationship is a bit more complicated though. Studies show that the relationship to poor diet choices and poor sleep go hand and hand, therefore eating poorly can lead to poor sleep, and poor sleep leads to further detrimental diet decisions.4 To improve your diet for better sleep, limit added sugars and processed foods throughout the day. This means limiting baked goods, potato chips, sodas and premade pizza as much as possible.

Your Bedroom Isn’t Your Office

While COVID-19 continues to have an impact on almost every industry, it has left many people still working from home. But, most people do not have a separate space to complete their work without a dog barking or kids asking for snacks, so they resort to working in their bedroom. The issue with this becomes your brain’s association of work and rest. Working in your bedroom at first may make you sleepy, but overtime it becomes the opposite. You feel awake and ready to work when you’re supposed to be winding down for bed.

To switch the association of your bedroom back to sleep, designate a new space to complete your work for the day. Getting creative can help with your sleep schedule and help you truly keep your day time activities out of your nighttime space. Examples include a desk in a walk-in closet, a designated spot at your dining room table, or even the living room with noise cancelling headphones can help you sleep better at night.

Supplements Are Here to Support

Sleep supplements can be your fool-proof way of ensuring you receive quality sleep and stay in good health. There are many on the market and different combinations can work for different people.

Magnesium

A magnesium supplement can help improve your quality of sleep by relaxing your muscles. If you suffer from restless leg syndrome or insomnia, this can be particularly beneficial. Magnesium supplementation at bedtime has been shown to get you asleep faster, increase sleep efficiency, reduce early morning or premature waking, increase melatonin production and decrease cortisol levels.5 Jarrow Formula’s Soothing Night is a magnesium supplement designed to promote restful sleep and relaxation, and it also contains a sleep blend that includes GABA and melatonin.

Melatonin

Melatonin gummies are all the rage, but do they actually work? For some, yes. For others, they may not see a difference in their sleep quality or rest due to side effects like stomach discomfort. They are definitely worth a try. Melatonin supplements have been shown to improve sleep duration and insomnia in some, as well as serve as a natural alternative to sleep medications used for sleep disorders.6

Improving your sleep health will do much more good than harm, even if you have to switch up your nightly routine or habits. By making small changes to your lifestyle, you can improve your health and live an energy filled life!

References:

1 CDC – sleep and chronic disease – sleep and sleep disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/chronic_disease.html#:~:text=Notably%2C%20insufficient%20sleep%20has%20been,disease%2C%20obesity%2C%20and%20depression. Published August 8, 2018. Accessed July 19, 2022.

2 Shechter A, Kim EW, St-Onge M-P, Westwood AJ. Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2018;96:196-202. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.10.015.

3 Is it bad to eat before bed? Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-eating-before-bed-bad-for-you/#:~:text=It’s%20best%20to%20stop%20eating,go%20to%20bed%20feeling%20hungry. Published June 29, 2022. Accessed July 19, 2022.

4 Zuraikat FM, Makarem N, Liao M, St-Onge MP, Aggarwal B. Measures of poor sleep quality are associated with higher energy intake and poor diet quality in a diverse sample of women from the Go Red for Women Strategically Focused Research Network. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2020;9(4). doi:10.1161/jaha.119.014587.

5 Using magnesium for better sleep. Sleep Foundation. www.sleepfoundation.org/magnesium. Published July 6, 2022. Accessed July 19, 2022.

6 Li J, Somers VK, Xu H, Lopez-Jimenez F, Covassin N. Trends in use of melatonin supplements among US adults, 1999-2018. JAMA. 2022;327(5):483. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.23652.

Dr. Nicole Avena is a research neuroscientist and expert in the fields of nutrition, diet and addiction, with a special focus on nutrition during early life and pregnancy. Her research achievements have been honored by awards from several groups including the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She is an assistant professor of neuroscience at the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York, NY and is a visiting professor of health psychology at Princeton University in New Jersey. Dr. Avena has written several books, including What to Eat When You’re Pregnant and What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler. She regularly appears as a science expert on the Dr. Oz Show, Good Day NY and The Doctors, as well as many other news programs. Her work has been featured in Bloomberg Business Week, Time Magazine for Kids, The New York Times, Shape, Men’s Health, Details, as well as many other periodicals. Dr. Avena blogs for Psychology Today, is a member of the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau and has the No. 2 most watched TED-ED Health talk, “How Sugar Affects Your Brain.” You can follow Dr. Avena on Twitter (@DrNicoleAvena), Facebook (www.facebook.com/DrNicoleAvena) and Instagram (@drnicoleavena), or visit www.drnicoleavena.com.