Sleeping is for the weak, right?
Sleep is the modern worlds forgotten superpower. Without sleep, we accelerate our ageing process, reduce our resilience threshold and our stop our body from naturally repairing our cells! But sleeping is for the weak right?
Well think about it this way…sleep deprivation is used in the battlefield as an effective interrogation technique because it’s one of the quickest ways for breaking our resilience and will power – two of the most essential things you need when making any kind of change!
1. Circadian Rhythms – Every living thing on this planet is installed with a circadian rhythm, also referred to as our ‘body-clock’. This is a universal rhythm aligned with the rise and fall of the sun. Humans and wolves are a great example of this; humans ‘should’ naturally wake with sunrise whereas wolves should wake with sunset. Many people will debate they’re either; early birds or night owls. The truth is, in an ideal world we should be rising and setting with the sun.
2. Light exposure – Our body has been intelligently installed with light receptors in our skin and eyes to detect the difference in light and dark. Our eyes are the most sensitive to this change which is why we should spend at least 10 minutes outside a day and reduce screen time at night. The receptors job is to send messages to our endocrine system (our hormonal system) to release the correct hormones at the correct times of the day.
3. Melatonin & Cortisol – Melatonin is our sleep hormone and cortisol is our ‘stress’ hormone (FYI – because stress is a loaded word, think about it as your get-up-and-go hormone in this context.) They work simultaneously when one is high the other is suppressed and visa-versa.
Our current 24/7 society means we are exposed to a lot of light stimulation at night and not very much during the day, meaning our circadian rhythm and therefore our hormones become confused and release at the wrong time.
We are a nation addicted to technology (nighttime light exposure from screens) and coffee (stimulants.) These two factors alone mean that cortisol – our get up/ stay up hormone is overstimulated which causes melatonin – our sleep hormone becomes suppressed. If you then add late-night eating into the mix you’re literally doing three of the worst things possible for your circadian rhythm and therefore your sleep QUALITY.
The graph below shows a healthy sleep cycle. Every 90minutes or so we should move through the different stages of sleep. A healthy adult will have 4-5 sleep cycles a night and will wake feeling rested and excited to start the day.
5 Step to Deep Restorative Sleep
STEP 1. 2pm Caffeine Curfew – Caffeine is a stimulant drug, it can stay in your body for up to 8-14 hours – depending on how quickly you metabolise it. Try switching to herbal or decaf by 3pm. Be aware, many green tea’s also contain caffeine.
STEP 2. 7pm Rest your digestion – An active digestive system uses over 70% of our metabolic energy. Eating before bed prevents your body from going into the restorative stages 3 and 4 of sleep. Aim to finish eating 2 hours before bed. Drink water and herbal teas in this time. Camomille tea is a bedtime favourite!
STEP 3. 9/9.30pm Bluelight ban – Modern day electronics trick our body’s into thinking it’s daytime causing the wrong hormones to be released at the wrong time. Wind down with a book, journalling your day or relaxing music 30 minutes before bed.
BONUS LIGHT EXPOSURE TIPS: Expose yourself to morning sunlight or spend at least 10 minutes outside daily. Use light filters (night modes) on phones or downloading apps like Flux or Twilight if you’re looking at screens after sunset.
STEP 4. 10pm Bedtime – It’s proven you get the best recovery and hormonal secretion between the hours of 10-2. Got a project due in? You’ll be more productive going to bed earlier and waking earlier than trying to cram when you’re brain and body is tired.
STEP 5. Environment – Make sure your bedroom is set to help you sleep. It should be as dark as possible (remove all standby lights). 17-18C, so keep your heating off at night, open a window, sleep naked or wear loose fitting clothes and if the air quality is poor – add a plant to your bedroom.
Suggested reading: The benefits of sleep
Dedicated to simplifying wellbeing so everyone can live their best life.
Pip & The DayOne Wellness Team
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