Most tips for getting a good night’s sleep focus on what you should do just before or when in bed. But what you do in the day, when wide awake, is just as important in ensuring you get a good night’s sleep.
It’s all about the melatonin.
What’s that you might ask? Well melatonin is a hormone, produced mostly by the pineal gland in the brain, and it plays a very important part in regulating a person’s circadian rhythm, or sleep pattern.
Too little melatonin makes falling asleep harder – you know the feeling when you are actually tired but somehow feel wide awake? Chances are it’s down to a shortage of melatonin.
So it’s important to know about melatonin production, and what you can do to keep levels up.
Melatonin is produced when daylight fades with the setting of the sun (no wonder it is sometimes referred to as ‘the Dracula hormone’!). The change in light signals the pineal gland to start producing the hormone and releasing it into the bloodstream. With melatonin now being delivered to all parts of the body, you feel gradually less alert and sleepy. With the sunrise, melatonin production is ‘switched off’ again and its supplies run low, making you feel awake and alert.
In order to keep melatonin levels high, when they should be high (and low when they should be low), it is vital that a person gets enough daylight in the daytime, and keeps bright light to a minimum in the late evening.
Top three tips for regulating melatonin, and getting a good night’s sleep
- Expose yourself to light when you first get up, by opening the curtains and eating breakfast at a table by a window. According to Barbara Matusiak, a professor of architecture at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who studies the effect of light: “It is important that the body be exposed to a great deal of light when you first wake up, so your brain gets the signal to stop melatonin production.”
- During the day, make sure you get enough exposure to daylight. If you work in an artificially lit office, see if you can situate your desk by a window. Take a walk outdoors at lunchtime, or whenever you can during the day.
- Reduce exposure to bright light in the evening, especially after 9pm, when you need to be producing melatonin in order to promote good sleep. Blue light, such as that emitted by computer screens, stops the brain producing melatonin. If you simply cannot tear yourself away from the screen in the evening, you can install a programme (called lux) that adapts your screen according to the time of day – brighter in the day, dimmer in the evening – while still maintaining readability.
Of course there are a lot more factors that affect a good night’s sleep, but if you follow the tips above to regulate your body clock, you have a solid foundation for getting plenty of good quality shut-eye. The body just can’t ignore the go-to-sleep signals being sent when the melatonin in flowing, so make sure you get enough of it – at the right time – and soon you’ll be sleeping like a baby. In Christy bedding I hope!
Written by Molly and The Princess: http://www.mollyandtheprincess.com