Wednesday Musings: The Best Supplement Money Can't Buy...Sleep!
Everyone is always asking about me about supplements. Magnesium, multivitamins, BCAAs. “Will this help me get stronger?” “Will this help me lose weight?” “Will this give me more energy?” I could list a million problems that people experience and a million supplements that people have heard from someone else could help fix the problem. And the truth is, most REPUTABLE supplements work, at least to an extent and for a limited amount of time. The problem people have is that they don’t get the basics right. Nutrition, proper movement, stress, and the one that damn near trumps them all...SLEEP.
Yes, sleep. That thing you do at night, at church, and after downing an entire medium pizza after Florida State gets destroyed by Clemson...not that I’m speaking from recent experience or anything….
The point is everyone sleeps, but is everyone getting QUALITY sleep? I’d venture to say no. Whether it’s a problem getting to sleep, staying asleep, or not sleeping enough, I’d say a good chunk of people are falling a bit short when it comes to this are of their health. This starts a cascade of issues down the health and wellness chain including impaired hormone regulation, a decrease in mental sharpness, as well as decreased recovery from exercise. Crabby, loopy, and sore. Not a good place to be. But the good news is that there are steps you can take to improve your sleep and they may be simpler than you think!
Blue Light Blockers
We’ve all felt the strain on our eyes from staring at a phone or a computer screen for a long time. It hurts our eyes and maybe gives you a headache, but have you ever considered how it could be affecting your sleep? Turns out quite a bit. TV’s, computers, phones, and most other electronics emit a certain kind of light called blue light and as it turns out, blue light is pretty terrible for sleep. Your brain reacts similarly to blue light the way it reacts to sunlight and tricks your brain into staying up by inhibiting your ability to produce melatonin which tells your body it’s time to go to sleep. Luckily almost all modern devices come with the ability to set a blue blocker which will automatically trigger at a preset time. If not apps like f.lux can be downloaded to get you started on this easy sleeping remedy!
2. Cold Shower
Ok I said these things were going to be easy, NOT necessarily pleasant! But this is one that can be adjusted depending on your tolerance so bare with me. Hot showers are cool and all but much like blue light they can kind of wreck your sleep right before bed! Yup, these bad boys also mimic the sun, but instead of blasting you with light they warm up your internal body temperature signaling to your brain that it's go time instead of sleepy time!
Ideally we want to cool down our body to kick-start the production of melatonin. And while cranking down the AC or putting the fan on blast will work, why not start the process a little early? Enter the cold shower! For those who are feeling brave, feel free to go in cold turkey and use your entire shower time to cool off and get your body ready to go. For those more like me, feel free to enjoy your warm shower as normal, but towards the end begin to slowly turn down the temperature until you eventually acclimate to the coldest temperature. Once you get past the initial shock you will almost immediately feel a sense of calmness and drowsiness wash over you as you go through the remainder of your bedtime routine!
Were you expecting tip number 3 ? Nope, not today! Gotta keep you on your toes! In all seriousness there are plenty of other remedies like sleepy time tea, the good ol’ night cap, and white noise machines. Much like supplements all of these things CAN work, but for how long and how effective they can be are up for debate. But I’m confident that if sleep is a struggle for you that implementing just these two things into the waning hours of the night can help make your resting time a little more...uhh restful!
Try it out and let me know what you think, happy sleeping!