Whether you’re a new parent, aspiring athlete, busy tradesmen or enjoying retirement, getting a good nights sleep is crucial to optimal health, wellbeing and cognitive function.
However, the modern world and its advances has created a less than ideal environment for getting consistent, quality sleep with the majority of people everybody leading chaotic, stress ridden lives.
Within this article, I will discuss some key habits and supplements, which directly improve sleep onset, duration and quality.
Firstly, as these are free and available to anyone, lets begin with some small habits you can include into your daily routine.
Number one, GET SUNLIGHT EXPOSURE UPON WAKING. This is crucial to setting our circadian (24 hour) rhythm. Humans, alongside countless other mammals are diurnal, meaning we operate in the daytime and sleep at night. Our circadian clock (suprachiasmatic nucleus) is an internal group of brain neurons located in the hypothalamus. By getting out in sunlight during the early morning, photons from the sun enter the photosensitive ganglion cells within our eyes and essentially alert the system its daytime. This has a magnitude of effects within the body but, in terms of sleep, activation of the circadian clock causes the stress hormone cortisol to peak earlier in the day and the sleep hormone melatonin to peak later in the evening, thus providing an optimal internal environment for a good nights sleep.
Number two, HAVE A COLD SHOWER IN THE AM. Carrying on with the theme of circadian rhythm, cold water exposure early in the day has beneficial effects on regulating your body’s daily temperature pattern. Over a 24 hour period, your body hits its lowest temperature roughly 2 hours before waking, gradually rises to its peak temperature around 4-6pm and back down again overnight. Having a cold shower first thing assists this natural temperature progression as cold water encourages your body to heat faster post-shower. This allows your body temperature to peak slightly earlier in the day, therefore providing lower temperatures earlier in the evening, which positively affects your ability to fall and stay asleep throughout the night.
Finally, lets discuss supplementation. There are countless of over the counter supplements which claim to improve sleep and, in fact, there are countless of products within The Little Supplement Company which can and do help people get a better nights sleep. However, to be succinct, I will focus on the most widely available and research backed supplement, magnesium.
Magnesium is one of the most abundant macrominerals within the body which has an impact on a plethora of systems. Ironically, a large amount of individuals are deficient in magnesium. In relation to sleep, a lack of magnesium inhibits serotonin production given its role as a cofactor (substance which helps an enzyme function) in tryptophan conversion. Serotonin, as many of you know, is the hormone associated with contempt and happiness. However, it is also crucial for feeling sleepy towards the end of the day as serotonin is the pre-curser (gets converted to) melatonin. Furthermore, for those who suffer from restless-leg syndrome, magnesium is essential for skeletal muscle relaxation and can assist in reducing sensations of tightness or uncontrollable twitching whilst trying to unwind before bedtime.
If you are considering using magnesium as a sleep aid, I recommend dosing 300-600mg 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. Viridian’s High Potency Magnesium is a high quality source available in store, providing 300mg per casual from highly bioavailable oxide, citrates and bisglycinates.
If you have any questions regarding sleep, please pop in store or message us on our Facebook page!