Sleep issues can be quite complex at times. Even sleep clinics can have difficulties helping some people.
One of the most important hormones involved in sleep is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is made by the pineal gland, which is a small gland in the brain. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles and how deeply you sleep.
Melatonin is also found in very small amounts in food such as meats, fruit, grains and vegetables. You can also buy it as a supplement through a compounding chemist with a prescription from your doctor.
So whether you are dealing jet lag, insomnia or even shift work, an inconsistent sleep pattern can affect your mood, concentration and even your body weight.
With a few small changes you can improve the quality of your sleep.
Your Internal Clock
Your internal clock is called the circadian rhythm. It tells your body when to fall asleep and when to wake up. So many important things going on in your body are affected and rely on your sleep – wake cycle. So if your sleep schedule is out-of-whack it can impact on your health and well being.
Some tips for better sleep:
- Ban blue light. The light that comes from your phone, computer and other electronics is called blue light. It has a very powerful effect on your body clock. At night, this blue light keeps you from being able to wind down and fall asleep as it affects the melatonin you produce. A good habit to start is to turn off your phone,TV and tablet, and to dim the lights about an hour before bedtime.
- No napping. Avoid sleeping during the day if you can help it. If you feel that you are so tired that you cannot function with out, trying a cat-nap of no more than 20 minutes to refresh you without affecting your sleep at night.
- Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. Staying in bed just tossing and turning actually trains your brain to stay awake. Instead, if you are still awake after 30 minutes or so, get out of bed and do something relaxing. Reading can often help.
- Wake up at the same time every day. Even on the weekend. Resist that sleep in. Routine is key to improve your internal body clock. If you are a shift worker and have the day off, try to go to bed later than usual and then wake up later. This can help you adjust when it’s time to work your next night.
- Practice good bedtime habits. A dark cool room really helps with good sleep. Avoid bedside clocks and their light.
Try to have a quiet bedroom. Use white noise to block out sound if you need. There are many apps for this.
Avoid caffeine at least 4 hours before you sleep if you are sensitive. Drinking coffee, tea and soft drink can make you toss and turn.
Exercise every day. Getting your heart rate up and sweating is good for your overall health, but can really help with developing good sleep habits and patterns.