We all know how terrible we can feel when we don’t get enough quality shut-eye. Aside from the obvious physical challenges, a sleep-deprived brain actually devotes less blood to the prefrontal cortex, making it hard for us to respond intelligently to the unexpected, think up new ideas, or stay calm under stress. Our ability to remember and learn anything new becomes stunted, as sleep is central to the brain’s ability to convert the day’s experiences into long-term memories.
We move through several sleep cycles that last 90 to 120 minutes each. These consist of periods of light, deep and REM sleep. Each type of sleep plays a slightly different role in helping us process our experience of the world: reviewing the day’s events, recalling the things we’ve learned, reinforcing neural pathways around new information and more.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE FACTORS THAT MAY BE PREVENTING YOU FROM GETTING A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
- Caffeine in the afternoon
- Refined sugar
- Stress and anxiety
- Hormonal imbalance
- Exercise at night
- A noisy, bright or hot bedroom
- Screen time before bed
- Thyroid medication
- Fat-burning supplements Find
- Do whatever you need to get into bed at a decent time (say, 10 pm) so that you can sleep for at least seven to eight hours.
- Develop a sleep routine, going to bed and waking up at the same time whenever possible.
- Expose yourself to as little light as possible before bedtime. Try not to use your phone as an alarm so you reduce the temptation to look at the screen. If you read e-books, use a device that’s shielded to reduce glare and diffuse light.
- Develop a bedtime ritual — a pattern of activity (for example restorative yoga and/or meditation) that your brain comes to associate with the signal to sleep.
- Speak to a health practitioner about supplements that may help you sleep