One of the most important aspects of health that I work on with my clients is recovery and of course that means we gotta talk about sleep.
Because our world moves at such a fast pace, sleep is often at the bottom of our priority list. We have people to take care of, work to get done, money to make. But today, I want you to take these next few short minutes for yourself to educate yourself on how to sleep well.
When I say sleep well, I mean you have a restful, rejuvenating sleep. This is where your body heals itself from the stresses and demands of your day and rests the rhythms and cycles that keep you healthy for a long life ahead.
Often times people measure sleep quality by time alone. They’ll say “well I got 8 hours, why do I still feel so tired and groggy?”
Just because your eyes are shut, it doesn’t mean you are recovering optimally.
Here are 3 tips to ensure you are setting yourself up for deep, effective sleep every single night.
Set circadian rhythm
Tip number 1 - you need to get some light exposure first thing in the morning. There are structures in your eyes that use light signals to cue your circadian rhythm, which is your body’s internal clock.
The light exposure in the morning helps your body produce hormones that keep you alert during the day time so that come night time, you can produce the right hormones to help you relax and sleep deeply.
The light exposure should come from natural sunlight outside, coming through a window doesn’t count. Aim for 15 minutes of this as close to your wake up time as possible. And if it’s a downcast or rainy day, then you need longer exposure, around 30 minutes.
Nutrition and better sleep
The second tip is to consume foods that are rich in a protein building block called tryptophan. This amino acid is the precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone melatonin.
When serotonin levels are too low, this has been linked to insomnia and depression. Therefore, increasing the precursor to it can help to keep levels adequate for sleep quality.
Melatonin is the hormone that naturally increases in the evening as part of your circadian rhythm. It doesn’t make you asleep, rather it promotes sleepiness.
By the way, getting light exposure outside in the morning helps with production of melatonin at night.
And a little bonus tip about tryptophan, it can be found in turkey, dairy products, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. It is best absorbed and used by the body when it’s paired with some carbohydrates! So, you can throw the pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds in a smoothie with some fruit or have a turkey dinner with potatoes and veggies for optimal tryptophan uptake.