“Many of us live lives characterized by light pollution. We rarely experience sunrise and sunset, and are inside under artificial lighting during most of our days. Much of the light exposure we do get is poorly timed. We might not get enough bright light in the morning, but get too much at night. Sleep environments might never get completely dark. When it comes to lighting conditions, we have changed our environment, and as a result,
it is changing us.”
–Shape Shift, Percival, Mark D.C., N.D., Kelly Gregory, N.D.
Have you recognized a sleep debt in your life? Check out these seven common disrupters of sleep below:
-Skipping meals early in the day or eating late at night can disrupt quality and timing of sleep.
-Sticking to a schedule of breakfast, lunch, and finishing your last meal 3-4 hours before sleep enhances quality of sleep and moves your bedtime earlier.
-Poor nutrition (lack of minerals, vitamins, necessary fats, etc.) not only disrupts quality of sleep, but can also increase the need for sleep.
-Lack of nutrition from calorie restriction or “dieting” can disrupt sleep quality and also increase the need for sleep.
-Optimal nutrition (minerals, vitamins, necessary fats, nutrients, calories) will result in ideal sleep quality, and reduce need for sleep.
-Insufficient exercise can result in poor quality sleep (less REM and slow wave sleep).
-Too much exercise (specifically with someone untrained for the exercise) creates a stress response that can result in poor sleep quality.
-Physical fitness (resulting from appropriate exercise) improves slow wave sleep and REM.
-Increases the need for sleep.
-Stress makes it more difficult to fall asleep and also hurts sleep quality.
-Sleep is impacted more seriously by stress as we age.
Lifestyle Habit (alcohol, tobacco, caffeine-containing stimulants)
-Alcohol: The more you drink and the later you drink, the worse its impact on sleep-quality, need for sleep, and your “body clock” functions (controlling sleep/wake cycles).
-Cigarette (tobacco) smoke: negatively impacts sleep quality, makes it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
-Caffeine-containing stimulants: Just like alcohol, the more you drink and the later you drink, the more your sleep cycle, quality, and need for sleep will be disrupted.
-Background noise or noise from a TV or music player can act as stress during sleep, disrupting sleep quality.
-All lightsources, except for red light, disrupt melatonin secretion, our darkness hormone. This is especially critical for the middle-aged, for less healthy individuals, and for people who get a small amount of sunlight during the day.
-Any odor that does not come from a plant or flower (a chemical) can negatively impact sleep quality.
-A temperature that is too warm or cold can negatively impact sleep quality. The best temperature is one that is kept constant from night to night, allowing your system to adjust. The same goes for humidity.
Check back soon to read the last blog post in this series: How to Repay Your Sleep Debt!