22 Jul 2019

Sleep is essential for our body to function at its best. It affects our emotional, mental and physical state so profoundly that a lack of sleep can be dangerous. When we are sleep deprived it’s hard to focus and concentrate, stay calm and be patient, make good choices and feel happy. Consistent insomnia can lead to creeping weight gain and make us more prone to heart problems. Because sleep is so essential to human functioning, making the time to understand how to get the best sleep is worthwhile endeavor.

#1 The Light of Your Life
Sunlight is essential to life. Plants can’t thrive without the proper amount of exposure to the sun and we can’t either. We know from grade school science class that chlorophyll needs sunlight in order to convert into food for plants. For us, serotonin, a neurotransmitter and precursor to melatonin, our sleep hormone, increases from exposure to sunlight and about 12 hours later the serotonin will convert to melatonin, which helps us sleep at night.
Lack of time in the sun during the day can lead to insomnia. So next time you are having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, try going for a walk for 30-45 minutes in the morning sunlight. Avoid wearing sunglasses, a visor or hat. Basically, don’t do anything that would block your eyes, as your eyes need to be exposed to direct sunlight for your brain to register the light. It’s fine to wear sunscreen, and even days that are overcast will get you the light you need.
#2 Delicious Darkness
There is a time for light and a time for dark. The sleep hormone, melatonin, is also known as the ‘darkness hormone’ because it is controlled by exposure to light. It is produced when our eyes experience darkness and can be affected by even the smallest amount of light. Light suppresses melatonin and increases cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that tells us to wake up and stay alert.
Cortisol and melatonin work in opposition to each other. We want melatonin to be high at night and low in the morning as cortisol is low at night and high in the morning. Decreasing light at night is critical for suppressing cortisol and encouraging melatonin. Besides reducing your screen time at night, eye masks are an easy and inexpensive way to block light.
#3 Go Natural
Luckily, we don’t need to take pharmaceuticals to promote great sleep. When your sleep pattern has been disturbed by travel, work or an illness, natural remedies can come in handy to reset your clock. Melatonin, valerian root and magnesium are tried and true sleep aids that are backed by science. Another popular way to treat poor sleep is natural hemp oil. The cannabinoids in the oil helps regulate a variety of hormones, including those that prevent and promote sleep. All these natural aids are readily available and low cost, so there’s no reason not to give them a try.

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