It is no secret that sleep is such a crucial part of our health. A few years ago, I purchased a Whoop watch to track my sleep and create better habits. After analyzing the data from my watch, I was blown away by my lack of good quality sleep. Where I thought I was getting 8-9 hours of sleep each night, I was really only getting 6-7 hours at best. This new awareness led me down a path of learning how to optimize my sleep and create the best routine I could. Before we go into some of my best hacks for better sleep, I think it is important to understand WHY sleep is important.
Health benefits of good quality sleep:
Promotes healthy growth and development
Helps with heart health and circulatory system
Supports weight management
Keeps your immune system strong
Reduces risk of injury
Increases attention span and focus
Boosts memory, learning and brain development
Optimal emotional control and regulation
And many more…
Here are a few hacks that I have found to help my sleep quality and quantity:
Evening routine: A consistent and regular sleep cycle will help you not only fall asleep faster, but will also help you get into deep sleep more efficiently and establish an effective sleep/wake cycle.
Meal timing and planning: The more time between your last meal or drink (think 2-3 hours) will help get into more restorative and deep sleep. Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but it prevents you from the same quality sleep that you would get without it.
Limit blue light: Artificial blue light coming from our homes and devices disrupt our circadian rhythm and suppress our melatonin production. By reducing screen time and wearing blue light blocking glasses, we can limit our exposure to this artificial light.
Dark and cold environment: A completely dark room with an average temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit has been shown to be the best environment for quality deep sleep.
Morning sunlight and cold exposure: One of the best things you can do for your circadian rhythm and daily energy is to get natural light on your face as soon as you wake up in the morning. This tells your body that it is time to wake up and will help you fall asleep faster at night. Another great morning routine I have found to help with my sleep is cold exposure in my cold tub. Three to five minutes of cold exposure does many amazing things, but one in particular is it will help with temperature fluctuation that helps fine tune your circadian rhythm - setting you up for a better night's sleep.
Exercise: Moderate to vigorous exercise earlier in the day will help with falling asleep faster as well as increase the duration of quality sleep. Going for walks in the morning or during your lunch break is a great way to help with your sleep efficiency.
Regular chiropractic care: Getting adjusted on a regular basis helps balance your nervous system (think sympathetic vs parasympathetic) and allows your body to function optimally - leading to more efficient sleep. Not only do I know when I haven’t been adjusted enough based on my sleep, many patients come in themselves or bring their kiddos in for regular chiropractic care because of its positive effect on their sleep.
Magnesium: I take magnesium regularly for many different health benefits, but sleep quality is one thing I notice a large improvement in when taking it regularly.