Sleep keeps us alive, literally. Since moving out of the city (and having kids that don’t require me for night feeds anymore: hallelujah), I’ve paid more attention to improving my sleep hygiene. Maybe it was the 6 years I felt like I had to catch up on?
Here is the only thing I used to consider regarding my sleep: I used to go to bed, look at the time and calculate how many hours of sleep I’d get and call it a day. Ha! I had it all wrong. It’s SO much more intricate than that. What you even do during the day will have a trickle-down effect on your sleep.
I’ve learned this: like everything in life, it’s not about quantity but QUALITY. These 6 hacks have helped me elevate my sleep quality game (and I'm still learning and trialing!)
I didn’t understand sleep quality until I started tracking my sleep. Oh boy, I was in for a reality check.
To simplify, there are 3 phases of sleep: light sleep, deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The goal is to go for the gold, and as much of it: deep sleep. That stage is where our body truly rests, repairs and restores itself. It’s what will keep you healthy or if we don’t get enough; sick.
I use the Sleep Cycle app: it’s free and offers me the information I need. I keep my phone (on airplane mode) on my nightstand and it tracks my every move. In the morning I get a graph mapping the quality of my sleep. You even get a score when you’ve had lots of deep sleep. Even my kids are asking me my score in the morning now!
Melatonin and cortisol cycles are instrumental to inducing repairing sleep. Getting some morning sun exposure (ideally before 10am) with no sunglasses helps boosting cortisol production and signal your body that it’s daytime.
You want to look at the sun in the morning to stimulate cortisol and similarly, you need to STOP light exposure after sunset in order to signal your brain that it’s soon bedtime. Phone, TV, laptop, LED lights: all of these emit a ton of blue light which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.
I put my blue-blocking glasses right after sunset and keep them on until I go to bed. I bought these classic Swanwick ones years ago but Truedark also makes great ones. It helps to promote natural melatonin production and falling asleep naturally.
We even pushed it further at home by investing in Truedark Circardia lightbulbs that mimic natural rise and fall of the sun - you only need a simple dimmer for it to work. Cool stuff!
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is required by every single body cell in order to function properly. Unfortunately, we can all be considered deficient due to the poor availability of magnesium in our depleted soil and diet. Magnesium supplementation is necessary to improve body functions, lower cortisol levels, stabilize hormonal imbalances, improve cellular processes and assist in the activation of Vitamin D.
I like taking magnesium at night because it is a precursor of GABA which promotes deep sleep and relaxation. Be sure to take magnesium glycinate – I like to take 500mg every night before bed. Lately I’ve also been using the WithinUs Magnesium + TruMarine Collagen powder at night for a nice way to also get my daily collagen intake.
Did you know that a mere 15 seconds of light exposure at night is enough to stop melatonin production in its track? Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in response to darkness. It regulates our circadian rhythm and induces sleep.
Even the light coming from your street lamp or the digits on your alarm clock are enough light to impair melatonin production. That is a nightmare (pun intended)!
Invest in black-out blinds that fit your windows perfectly. I have even been known to put some black garbage bags around the trims in my kids’ room to avoid any light from coming in (yes, I’m intense!!).
Just in case there is still some light creeping into your room, an eye mask will ensure real darkness while you sleep. I like a silk one as it’s nicer for the skin. I use this one.
To finish, protecting your melatonin is crucial to promote a restful sleep. Not getting enough light during the day or getting too much at night will stop its production. The hacks above will help set the stage for more consistent and restorative sleep patterns.
Hope it helps! xo
PS. Do you have other hacks that work? Message me, I want to hear about it!
Sign-up to my monthly newsletter, packed with lifestyle hacks to a more vibrant life!
No junk, promised. Unsubscribe anytime.