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Wake Refreshed: 6 Ways to Improve Your Sleep

By Edited Oct 13, 2016 0 1

Why can’t I sleep? It’s a question that we have all asked ourselves, and one that has serious consequences for our mental performance and physical health. This article will address 6 things that are keeping you from getting effective sleep and provide you with the solution.

Can't sleep
Credit: http://thecareco.com/7-tips-to-help-you-sleep/

Too Much Artificial Light


If you are anything like me, you probably spend a good portion of your day staring at a screen. When it gets late, you relax by browsing twitter or watching that funny movie on Netflix. Little do you know exposing yourself to high intensity light such as a computer screen or a phone can seriously impact your ability to get to sleep.[1] It will take longer to get to sleep and reduce the quality of the sleep.

The solution to this is to limit exposure to blue wavelengths of light. Instead of refraining from screens entirely before bed, you can download a program that changes the colors emitted from your laptop. This program is called F.lux and I have noticed improved sleep quality when using it. Simply set when you want filtered light  and enjoy the improved sleep. 

Credit: http://georgekelley.org/melatonin/

Using Melatonin Incorrectly

Melatonin is a chemical that regulates sleep and is naturally produced in the body. When melatonin is released it signals your body to slow down and enter sleep mode. An easy way to increase the quality of your sleep and reduce the time it takes to get to sleep is taking melatonin supplement. 

The key to taking melatonin supplements is that more is WORSE! According to studies conducted by MIT the dosage that has consistent beneficial effects is around 0.3mg.[2] As you can see in the above picture each pill you consume has over 16 times the correct dosage. Taking such a high dosage actually makes it harder for you to sleep instead of easier. Simply cut the pills up and you should notice an improvement in your sleep.

Credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/clark-russell/exercise-weight-loss-tips_b_3939210.html

Exercising Before Bed

Exercising is essential to getting quality sleep as little as 20-30 minutes[3] can drastically increase the quality of your sleep. When exercising your internal temperature increases and hormones are released which increase your alertness. These effects are great during the day, but negative for when you are trying to sleep.

The solution to this problem is to make sure that you don’t exercise 3-4 hours before going to bed. It may be difficult to change your schedule at first, but if you follow all my advice you should be waking up feeling rested and ready to hit the gym or go for a run.

Credit: http://www.healthandwellnesstoday.com/caffeine-myths-and-facts/

Caffeine Keeping you Up

Coffee is great, it gives you that kick you need to wake up and it helps you stay alert. If you are ingesting caffeine, you should be taking L-theanine with it to reduce the negative effects. The problem is that caffeine is a stimulant that prevents your body from relaxing and going to sleep. 

The problem most people have with caffeine is that they underestimate how long it stays in their system. Research has shown that the half-life of caffeine is actually 5-6 hours.[4] That means that if you have a cup of coffee at 3:00 pm by 9:00 there is still a significant amount left in your system. You probably don’t notice the effects at this point, but the residual caffeine can inhibit sleep. 

heat map
Credit: http://massspectrumbotanicals.com/learn/fix-low-body-temperature/

You Are Too Hot

Temperature has a noticeable impact on the hormones that are released when you go to bed. You body naturally cools down later in the day, which helps you relax and conserve energy. A problem that many people have is that they increase their body temperature drastically when they enter their bed.

To eliminate this problem stop using heated or oversized blankets, reduce the temperature in the room, or use a fan. Using a fan also has the added benefit of creating white noise that you can tune out and prevent quiet sounds in the night from disrupting you. 

Constantly Changing when you Wake Up

The human body has evolved to match our environment. When the sun rises and sets, it changes slowly and our bodies adapt to this change as it happens. Our circadian rhythm is based on when we wake up and when we sleep. Have you ever been jet lagged before and unable to sleep? This is because your circadian rhythm takes time to adapt to the time change. 

If we have a routine and stick to it, sleep comes much more naturally and it helps us enter into REM sleep more quickly. Try waking up at the same time every day even on weekends and you should start feeling tired at the appropriate time. 

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Cut these into small pieces to improve your sleep


Jan 15, 2015 5:15am
Great article and thanks for the recommendation on the program for adjusting your computer screen. I had purchased for about $10 on Amazon some amber tinted glasses that eliminate the blue light that is emitted from screens, etc and have found the same benefits. And they are nice and make it easier on your eyes throughout the day. Have you ever tired GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) for aiding in sleep?
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  1. "Blue light has a dark side." Harvard Health Publications. 18/11/2014 <Web >
  2. Elizabeth A. Thomson "Rest easy: MIT study confirms melatonin's value as sleep aid." MIT News. 1/March/2005. 18/11/2014 <Web >
  3. Virgil D. Wooten, MD "How to Fall Asleep." How Stuff Works . 18/11/2014 <Web >
  4. "Caffeine and Sleep." Sleep Foundation.org. 18/11/2014 <Web >

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