It’s an all-too-common scenario. Too many restless nights resulting in a visit to the doctor where you confess that you’re “not sleeping well.” In many cases, this results in your doctor writing a prescription for a sleep drug.
However, the problem is that the depth and restorative nature of the sleep you get on sleep drugs is not on par with good, natural sleep. Specifically, the deeper stages of sleep are interrupted by these drugs which can have profound effects on brain function.
So what can you do to improve sleep?
- Don’t drink caffeine after noon. Caffeine stays in your system much longer than you may think. You may be surprised to learn that the half-life of caffeine is actually about 6 hours!
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes every day. Exercise is one of the first things we recommend for those who report feeling fatigued/tired every day, or generally reporting feeling like they are having non-restorative sleep.
- Spend time in the sun! Especially consider this first thing in the morning. In addition to improving sleep, nature exposure has been demonstrated to have a wide ranging impact on health, including improved immune function, increased energy, reduced blood pressure, and improved focus.
- Consume adequate amounts of magnesium. This key mineral plays a complex role in the biological processes which govern our ability to sleep, yet it’s estimated that nearly 75% of Americans are deficient.
- Avoid digital devices close to bedtime. New research shows that blue light exposure significantly reduces the amount of melatonin secreted by the brain’s pineal gland, which will directly affect your sleep.
- Regulate your body temperature. As I discussed in Brain Maker, the optimal temperature for sleeping is between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Want to discover more of the science on sleep? Then visit our Sleep Focus Page.