There is no tissue or process within your brain and your body that doesn’t benefit from sleep. Sleeping is the bedrock of our health.
Even a healthy habit like exercising becomes less efficient when you’re not getting adequate sleep. For instance, as sleep expert Matthew Walker explained, if you’re trying to lose weight but not getting sufficient sleep, 70% of all the weight you lose will come from your muscles instead of fats. Why? Your body becomes stingy in giving up fat when you are asleep.
Sleep is crucial to our overall health and wellbeing, and it is precisely important because it acts as a master regulator of our hormones. Unfortunately, today so many of us are losing sleep to stress — one in six adults are on one form of psychological medication or the other.
According to the center for disease control and prevention, one-third of US adults report that they don’t get 7 or more hours of sleep at night. And by not getting an adequate amount of sleep each night, you’re at greater risk for developing certain chronic diseases including type II diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia, and even heart disease. That said, here are some vital habits you can implement to start having better sleep.
The Importance of the Morning Sunlight
When it comes to sleep, everyone thinks about what they do before they go to bed in the evening, but in reality, a good sleep routine starts in the morning. As British physician, Dr. Rangan Chattarjee advised, “Get outside in the morning for half an hour.”
A lot of people don’t realize that their daily rhythms are set by light. And in order to sleep at night, you need a differential between your maximum light exposure and your minimum light exposure.
As Dr. Rangan explained to Tom Bilyeu on Impact Theory, a dark room has zero lux in it (a lux is a unit of light). If you go outside on a sunny day for about twenty minutes, you get about 30,000 lux. If you get outside on a cloudy day, you’ll get about 10, 000 to 15,000 lux. If you go into a brightly lit office, you’ll be getting about 700 lux.
Studies show that between 6:00 am and 8:30 am, is a great time to get sunlight into you. It regulates your circadian rhythm and also allows for a decrease in body temperature. And this puts you on track for a good night’s rest later at the end of the day.
UltraViolet A and InfraRed A which help create melatonin in the body are also highest in the morning sunlight. And since melatonin is the sleep hormone, when it increases in your body, you get a much better quality of sleep.
Furthermore, the morning sunlight helps increase your dopamine levels. And dopamine as we know it is the reward chemical in the brain, when it gets regulated, emotional irregularities like depression and anxiety either drastically reduce or totally disappear.
The Connection Between Exercising And Sleep
Appalachian State University did a study with the aim of finding out how exercising at various times of the day impacts the quality of sleep. One group of the study participants were asked to exercise exclusively at 7 am, another at 1 pm in the afternoon, and the last phase exclusively at 7 pm in the evening.
When they compiled all the data at the end of the study, they found that those who exercised in the morning spent more time in the deepest and most anabolic stages of sleep. They were producing more human growth hormone, had more efficient sleep circles, slept longer, and on average they had about a 25% drop in blood pressure at night.
However, exercising in the morning isn’t some kind of magic bullet. There are people who exercise in the morning and still have terrible sleep. Why? Some people might do it too much. According to Shawn Stevenson, best-selling author of Sleep Smarter, all you need is just five minutes of exercise in the morning. As he said,
“Each morning I do five minutes of exercise. It might be just jumping on a rebounder, or going for a quick power walk.”
In Tabata workout, all you have to do is 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated over a period of 4 minutes. And according to research, Tabata has been found to outperform traditional cardio which is about 45 minutes of moderately intense exercise.
The Importance of Food Timing
While talking about his sleeping routine a few minutes into his talk with Tom Bilyeu, Carl Lanore, host of the longest-running health fitness & anti-aging podcast in the world (Super Human Radio) explained on Impact Theory,
“If I have a meal late at night, for whatever reason, and I go to sleep an hour later, I don’t get into the deep sleep that I normally do.”
Here’s the thing: If you eat too late in the night, it means your body is going to be playing host to digesting food when you are asleep. What this means is that other vital functions that your system is programmed to do while you sleep get shot down.
Autophagy, for instance, shots off when the body is digesting food. This is bad news because autophagy is our cellular waste management system. In autophagy, the body cleans up damaged cells and regenerates new ones.
Carl Lanore has an app that he uses to track his sleep and as he confessed, whenever he eats late, his heart rate never goes down to 40bpm. It just stays up high all night long, and this can lead to a heart attack. As Carl said, “Sometimes older people who are not in good shape have big meals and they go to bed and die in their sleep because their hearts don’t get the rest they need at night.”
The majority of people who are having sleep problems are doing something in their everyday life they don’t realize is impacting their ability to sleep at night. And some of these habits as minute and inconsequential as they may seem lead to stress.
A lot of helpful advice about sleep like avoiding stimulants before bed, staying away from blue light before bed, etc., are already all over the internet, and they are all useful. In addition to those,
- Make sure you’re getting enough sunlight in the morning
- Excercise rightly
- Time your food properly before sleep