Dr Luke’s guide to a better night’s sleep

Who doesn’t want to have a good night’s sleep? Sleep restores us, revitalises us and rejuvenates us. It’s the body’s chance to recovery and whether we lead busy lifestyles, play sport or are simply married to the grind of working day in and day out, it’s always in our best interests to sleep well and recover properly.

But sometimes this is easier said than done and the modern 21st century lifestyle isn’t always one that’s conducive to a good night’s sleep. Our very own Dr Luke Brady has put together this short guide to help you get some good shut eye and catch up on the Zzzzzzzs.

As a little bit of background, sleep is largely influenced by the rhythms of melatonin, serotonin and cortisol. Melatonin is a hormone that helps the body anticipate darkness and gets the body ready for sleep, and serotonin is the “feel good” hormone and mostly found in the gut.

Therefore things we can do to support this natural rhythm will help stack the odds in our favour of having a good night’s sleep.

1. Exercise first thing in the morning. This helps support normal cortisol rhythm which is naturally higher early morning.

2. Get some sunlight. The skin’s photosensors help regulate the melatonin and serotonin rhythms. UVA is the ageing/harmful wavelength while UVB is the important one that converts Cholesterol to Vit D. Sitting by a window will filter OUT the good UVB, leaving the damaging UVA coming through. Therefore you need to get outside.

Due to the UV protecting properties of melanin people with darker complexions need more time in the sun to produce the desired effect. Consuming melatonin supplements can desensitise the body’s natural melatonin receptor sites, so should be used sparingly.

3. Use the f.lux app. “Blue light” emitted from TVs, computer screens, iPads, phones etc cause a decrease in melatonin and reduces the body’s ability to achieve REM sleep, where memory processing takes place. The best restorative sleep happens between 10pm-2am when melatonin is naturally high, along with restorative enzymes.

4. Use the Night Shift setting on your iPhone to automatically dim in the evenings. Check out this interesting article from Nestmaven about how technology kills your sleep and what you can do about it.

5. Have a nighttime routine. Every parent knows the importance of a nighttime routine for their kids, adults are no different. Go to bed by 10pm. Listen to calming music. Use dim lights. Write in a journal. Set out clothes for next day. Read fiction to help turn off the analytical mind.

6. Avoid foods that will spike your blood glucose levels. So no sugar, no alcohol or fast burning foods. Foods high in “good” fats like avocado, coconut oil etc (slow burning foods) help stabilise energy levels while we sleep.

7. Have sex. Sex greatly increases the production of oxytocin that increases one’s feeling of wellbeing. Sex by one’s self releases 4 times LESS oxytocin, so sex with a consenting partner is preferable by a ratio of 4:1.

8. Remove the TV from the bedroom. A TV in the bedroom halves the likelihood of couples having sex. Phones, iPads, laptops etc should also be banned from the bedroom.

9. Sleep in a slightly cool room.

10. Foam roller or soft ball to massage your body before bed.

11. Black out window blinds. Hotels on holiday are often remembered for great nights sleep primarily due to the black-out blinds they have.

12. Sleep naked. Or with loosely fitting clothes to help maximise your lymphatic drainage. Couples often have different ideal sleeping temperatures. Invest in a Chilipad to help sleep at your optimal sleeping temperature.

For further information try reading Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson or listening to his podcast.

Anecdotally, many of the clients we see also report to having their best night sleep after an adjustment, so get in touch if you’d like a tune-up and we’ll see if we can get you on the road to sleeping better.