how does lavender help you sleep

How does lavender help you sleep?

How does lavender help you sleep?

The lavender plant is an amazing herb that has been used by humans for over 2500 years, for many different reasons. It has been used by the ancient Greeks for insomnia & by the ancient Egyptians to create relaxing massage oils & medicines.

What you’re wondering is; how does lavender help you sleep?

It is noted that lavender may have effects on the central nervous system of the body, which can aid with relaxation. This could be one of the reasons in which lavender may help with sleep.

There have been some studies relating to this topic, find out more information below on why lavender may help you sleep.

Where is lavender grown?

Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, as for its growth it needs lots of sun in abundance & a specific type of soil that drains quickly.

As of recent years, lavender is grown all around the world from places such as the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Africa & Asia.

Lavender farms are some of the most beautiful places in the world, as the fields are populated with a sea of purple on a green landscape. 

The process of growing the plant for its oil has been adopted worldwide, as lavender is now used by many of society for its versatile nature. Some of those benefits stated previously, note lavender may be beneficial for sleep, insomnia, relaxation & for anxiety.

Why does lavender help you sleep?

As suggested earlier, lavender has shown to have potential effects on insomnia & sleep as a whole. The effects of lavender on the central nervous system may come from its relationship with the GABA receptors, where it modulates the GABAergic neurotransmission.

In this study, lavender was noted to be an excellent remedy for insomnia as it was able to improve the mean sleep score of fifteen healthy students.

If you use lavender at the same time every night, you are able to get your body accustomed to relaxing after smelling the scent. This is defined as a sleep scent trigger. What this means is that when you smell the lavender at night time, you can train your brain to switch off and prepare for sleep.

how does lavender help you sleep

Over a longer period of time, it may be useful to use this technique every night in your sleep hygiene process, as a sleep scent trigger.

The brain is good at associating smells, so using this sleep training technique alongside a scent such as lavender (that already has relaxing capabilities), could prove to be a formidable trick to add to your sleep routine for improved sleep.

You can do this efficiently by using a lavender sleep spray or essential oil spray.

As well as using lavender as a sleep scent trigger, it is well known that the activation of the GABA receptors help promote sleep (as noted in this study), in which lavender can help activate.

When the GABA receptor is activated, it inhibits the central nervous system, which in turn has calming effects on the body, as it helps quieten nervous excitement within the brain. Sleep studies show that people who suffer with insomnia have GABA levels which can be up to 30% lower than those people who sleep restfully.

These effects on the GABA receptor are partly the reason in which lavender may help with anxiety within humans, which we will take a look into below.

Lavender for anxiety

The positive effects of lavender essential oils and anxiety have been shown due to its calming nature, because of the way it interacts the with central nervous system.

In one study, lavender was shown to have a calming affect without high sedation, while maintaining its tolerability in humans.

Due to the way lavender helps promote the GABA receptor activation (as noted above), this reaction can help reduce anxiety as the brain is sent into a calmed state, via its promotion of alpha brain waves.
Lavender is also noted to affect the human EEG pattern, which is the different types of sleep waves.

As someone goes to sleep into sleep stage 1, alpha waves are increased to induce sleep. By stage 3 the body goes into “slow wave sleep”. The lavender plant can promote the sleep waves ‘theta’ & ‘delta’, which help increase deep sleep.

lavender for anxiety

How to use lavender oil for sleep

Inhalation of lavender molecules can be achieved through several different mechanisms including diffusers, electronic oil diffusers & aromatherapy candles. Another way in which lavender can be absorbed is orally, this isn’t classed as aromatherapy.

In ancient times, lavender would be rubbed onto a pillow to help aid with sleep. In modern society, it is more common to rub lavender essential oils onto a pillowcase instead of using an actual plant.

There are also lavender sleep spray products that contain lavender & other essential oils, to help aid the sleep process, all from one bottle.

ZLEEPY® Silk Pillowcase – Light Grey into tranquility Immerse yourself ZLEEPY® Silk Pillowcase – Grey into tranquility Immerse yourself

Lavender Scented Candles for sleep

If you’re looking into a lavender scented candle to help aid with sleep, it may be good to know how they can help promote sleep. When an aromatherapy candle is lit, the lavender essential oil molecules evaporate into the room in which they can be inhaled.

Aromatherapy candles are also great to add to your sleep routine if you use them as a light source. Bright artificial lights in the evening can reduce the body’s natural production of melatonin, which is the bodies sleep hormone. The light from a candle is so minimal that if it is used in the evening while you relaxing while reading a book or meditate, it can help prime you for sleep.

Artificial light contains a higher rate of 460-480nm wavelengths which disrupt sleep. A candle flame contains less blue light from these wavelengths, making it a more suitable light source for sleep promotion instead of artificial light.

See our candle FAQ for more information on maintaining your candles.

What lavender is edible?

The best type of lavender that is used in cooking for medicinal purposes is Lavandula Angustifolia & more specifically Royal Velvet, Folgate & Melissa. These are better known for cooking, as they have a nicer taste that isn’t ‘soapy’ like other Lavandula plant species.

You can now find capsules of lavender on the market that are for oral consumption, to save you any hassle when creating your sleeping regiment.

Can you smoke lavender?

Although it is possible to smoke lavender in different forms i.e. vaping & with tobacco, but it is not yet deemed safe. There is no evidence that has been conducted scientifically in the safety of smoking lavender, to support any anecdotal benefit claims of smoking lavender.

When plant materials are burned, the combustion of the materials can be carcinogenic. That’s why it is noted to potentially be safer to evaporate the essential oil via a candle or diffuser method instead of burning it through a cigarette.

Can lavender oil be used on skin?

Lavender essential oils were used by ancient Egyptians in cosmetics & massage oils, as we move into modern society we have been able to advance the process of extracting the oil for skincare and cosmetics.

Yes, lavender can be used on the skin.

Lavender oil in its purest form can be used on the skin, but there are also moisturisers that contain lavender essential oil to help the body absorb the lavender more efficiently while keeping the skin soft.

You can often find lavender essential oils in massage oils, to help promote the body into a more relaxed state. It is a technique that is used by many spa’s across the world, to help people achieve a calmer & more enjoyable experience.

This is also partly to do with lavender’s potentially ability to reduce muscle stress & tension, if applied topically.

can lavender be used on skin

Is lavender safe for cats?

Lavender is not safe for cats in any form.

Symptoms of lavender consumption for cats can be vomiting, diarrhoea & weakness. It is important to keep lavender plants and essential oils away from your cat.

Although a cat is unlikely to try and seek out lavender as a potential food, you want to be careful when handling lavender essential oils around any cat food, in case of any cross contamination.

Is lavender safe for dogs?

Lavender is not safe for dogs in large quantities. Dogs are intolerant to compounds in lavender such as linalool, which can cause vomiting & diarrhoea. It is fine in really low doses, so it’s important to make sure your dog can never consume copious amounts of the substance.

is lavender safe for dogs
insomnia

What is REM sleep?

What is REM sleep?

Have you ever seen someone when they’re sleeping, their eyelids are moving rapidly and it looks like they’re in the middle of some hectic dreams?

This is REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement and it’s one of the stages of sleep you visit each night when you fall asleep.

Why is sleep so important?

Sleep is vital to maintain a healthy body and mind. When we don’t get enough sleep, have poor quality sleep or interrupted sleep our mental and physical health is impaired.

Sleep not only gives our body the chance to rest and make repairs, but it aids learning, cognitive functioning, processing emotions and consolidating memories. 

what is rem sleep

Our time asleep is spent across 4 different sleep stages, each one providing our bodies the time they need to repair and rest. Whilst we are sleeping the body hibernates and slows certain processes to enable us to recuperate from our exertions during wakefulness.

We’ll spend the night gently moving from one sleep stage to the next, going through up to 6 complete sleep cycles each night when we have an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Studies have shown that brain activity differs between these sleep cycle stages, and each has different characteristics.

What are the different stages of sleep?

The stages of sleep 1 – 3 are known as NREM sleep stages, or non-rapid eye movement sleep.

Stage 1 is the initial falling asleep where we sometimes doze before falling asleep properly. During this stage our brain and body begins to slow down. This stage is characterized by occasional twitching, which is more common in men than women. If uninterrupted whilst asleep, we will spend the least amount of time sleeping in stage 1.

Stage 2 follows, and this is where our muscles begin to relax, our breathing slows, our heart rate slows and our temperature drops. Our brain activity is generally reduced, and we’ll spend around half the night in stage 2 sleep as we move through our sleep cycles.

rem sleep

Stage 3 is known as deep sleep and it this is when our body and brain is at its least active during sleep. It is harder to wake someone from sleep stage 3 and when woken, the sleeper may be disorientated initially.

It is thought we spend more time in this sleep stage during the first half of the night and that this type of sleep is best for our body and brains growth and recovery.

REM sleep follows sleep stage 3 and also precedes it as we move through our sleep cycle. REM sleep is characterized by the movement of the eyes behind our eyelids, and this is the stage we dream most often. 

Activity in our brains increases to an almost waking level of activity and we dream our most vivid dreams during REM.

It is believed that REM sleep is vital for cognitive functioning and that we spend around a quarter of the time asleep in this state.

Experts believe that REM and dreaming help us with emotional processing, consolidating memories and brain development.

Lack of sleep

When we get an uninterrupted night’s sleep, we move from one stage of sleep to another and spend time in each of these states. Experts believe that each stage is essential for the restoration of our bodies which is why a lack of sleep can affect our ability to function so profoundly.

Ensuring we get a good night’s sleep is vital for feeling our best during the day.

Sleep aids

Blocking out light by using 3D sleep masks can help ensure a good night’s sleep, if you’re a light sleeper, or try one of our light pods for creating a calming environment before bed.

We also have a range of sleep sprays and linen sprays which can help you to relax at the end of the day.

If you’re struggling to get to sleep, read our blog on how to get to sleep fast for our top tips for falling asleep. How to fix your sleep schedule is also important when trying to improve your quality and quantity of sleep.

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bluetooth sleep mask

Why you shouldn’t wear a bluetooth sleep mask

Why you shouldn’t wear a bluetooth sleep mask

Let’s be honest, electronic devices & bluetooth are everywhere in modern society. It is so hard to ever be able to take a break away from an electronic device, whether it be your mobile phone, laptop, tv or bluetooth sleep mask.

We are absolutely surrounded by electronic devices, unfortunately there is small amounts of evidence being provided pointing towards the fact that this might in fact be bad for our health & more specifically; the way we sleep.

Find more information to why mobile phones, Wifi & bluetooth sleep masks may disrupt our sleep & potentially harm our health below.

bluetooth sleep mask

Is bluetooth radiation?

The first question people ask is, is Bluetooth radiation? 

The answer is Yes.

Bluetooth is a form of microwave radiation that has been made to be a lower ‘non-ionizing’ type of radiation, which currently regulators deem ‘safe’ to humans.

They way in which this has been decided by regulatory bodies is that because it has not been fully proven that bluetooth & electronic devices may be harmful to human health (because it hasn’t been around long enough), then there is no reason to ban bluetooth for human use.

The unsettling thing is, there is a lot of evidence now starting to pile up suggesting that it may be more harmful to humans than we originally thought.

What is EMF?

You may have heard of it, but EMF stands for ‘Electromotive Force’. It is essentially a form of radiation that is emitted form Wifi, mobile phones, bluetooth & many electronic devices.

Is bluetooth dangerous?

Well, this is unclear. 

Currently the official answer is No.

But there have been some studies that might help you make your own decision on the matter.

A study found that when a Drosophila melanogaster insect was exposed to non-ionizing radiation (NIR), it experienced apoptotic cell death, even at very low electric field strengths. Apoptotic cell death is related to the damage of the cells, which is a secondary response to DNA damage, causing DNA fragmentation.

Another study replicated a study from an earlier experiment which confirmed that exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields can promote tumour growth with humans & mice.

what no to do before sleep

In a separate study it was found that bluetooth radiation reduces female fertility by harming the ovarian follicles, endometrial tissue & creating an upsurge of free radical load in the uterus & ovaries.

This can cause altercations in both germ cells as well as other reproductive elements of the female anatomy.

This is a slightly worry insight into the potential dangerous of Bluetooth and EMF devices as a whole. There might need to be more studies looking into current uses of how humans interact with EMF devices to see if we need to have a rethink of their overall safety.

How does Bluetooth & EMF affect sleep?

Getting effective sleep between 7-9 hours is crucial to longevity & living healthy life. So making sure our sleep is of the highest quality for optimal health, do we need to look at our bluetooth & electronic devices that surround us while we sleep?

EMF is said to disrupt the bodies natural production of melatonin, which is the bodies natural sleep hormone. If you do not produce optimal amounts of melatonin, you will not get the best sleep quality.

Melatonin has been shown to be anticarcinogenic, which in theory would mean that it could potentially help the body prevent cancer.

insomnia

Bluetooth can reduce natural melatonin production

A study has shown that EMF can reduce the natural melatonin production of animals by up to 30%, which is a huge number in the grand scheme of things.

Over a long period of time people hypothesize that this could cause problems for your health & wellbeing.

Another study showed that extremely low frequency electromagnetic field exposure has a negative affect on overall sleep quality.

It is noted in the study that poor sleep quality reduces longevity from 80 years to 65–70 years. That is a potential reduction of life span of up to 18%. This shows how crucial high quality sleep is in correlation with life span.

tips to fix your sleep schedule

What we can do to improve our sleep in a modern world

The suggestions are to avoid wearing a bluetooth sleep mask or bluetooth headphones as a priority while you sleep. It is suggested that it may be best to also turn your phone off while you, or even turn it onto ‘airplane mode’ while you rest.

There is anecdotal evidence that people have gotten better sleep when they have had their Wi-Fi turned off, compared to it being switched on. Basically, anything electronic is best being turned off in your bedroom while you sleep.

You can see more information on why it is so hard to sleep in a modern world.

Take supplementation

A research paper was published that showed the potential benefits of Vitamin C & Vitamin E against EMF induced damage. They have both been shown to have antioxidant properties, which means that they may be able to negate some of the damage that is done to the human body.

Glutathione was also shown in a study to help protect rats against oxidative stress caused by electromagnetic radiation during pregnancy.

Zinc supplementation was also seen to protect rats brains against electromagnetic field induced lipid peroxidation in another study.

These are very interesting concepts as it gives us an idea that there may be things that humans need to explore that could help us in modern society. We hope more research can be done into this to give us more definitive answers to things that can help protect our health & wellbeing.

is-there-an-alternative-to-melatonin

Wear a sleep mask that doesn’t emit EMF or bluetooth

Sleep Masks are known for improving sleep quality due to being able to block light to improve melatonin production, so the next best available option is to choose a sleep mask that doesn’t emit any EMF.

Light at nighttime is energising, so blocking out the light when you try to sleep can help you achieve higher quality sleep.

If you’re struggling to get to sleep you can add different things to your sleep routine, instead of using relaxing music.

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Meditation for sleep

Practicing meditation is being used more and more to induce sleep by helping you relax & get into a tranquil mindset. This is potentially one of the most potent components to add to your sleep routine if you struggle with getting to sleep.

At a biological level, meditation practices slow the bod’s heart rate down which in turn slows the breathing rate. This causes a reaction in the body to reduce the levels of cortisol (the body’s stress hormone).

Studies have shown that experienced meditators can achieve a higher levels of slow-wave sleep & REM sleep.

Sleep sprays

Many sleep sprays and pillow sprays contain essential oils that have been used to help induce sleep for thousands of years. Lavender sleep sprays use one of the most common essential oils, which is associated with optimising & reducing the onset time of sleep.

Some people see sleep sprays as an alternative to melatonin, but others just enjoy the relaxing scents as they go to sleep.

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Have a cold bedroom for better sleep

Having a bedroom that is around 18.3°C (65°F) can help your core body temperature drop, which can increase the time in which you fall asleep. It can also help you produce a deeper sleep & sleep length.

Using candles in the evening

Swapping out your electronic devices for candles in the evening while reading a book can help you get to sleep earlier. The infrared candle flames are healthy for your eyes, as the colours represent sunset which can help trigger the brain to want to go to sleep.

Natural sunlight for sleep

Getting some morning sunlight every day can help you reset your circadian rhythm, which is your body’s natural body clock. This process of getting morning daylight helps your body understand that it needs to be awake for the rest of the day, but be tired & primed for sleep in the evening.

See our post on how to get to sleep fast for more sleep tips.

Make your own decision

Overall, it’s your life and you make your own choices. Currently the guidance is that bluetooth and EMF is safe & until there are more convincing studies available that are peer reviewed by our government regulatory bodies, we must believe this to be true.

But, reducing your time away from technology has never really been a bad thing

Disclaimer

This article is for informational purposes only. This is not medical advice or guidance. You should always consult a doctor before taking any supplementation & none of this has been proven through human studies.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options.

what no to do before sleep

What NOT to do before going to sleep

What NOT to do before going to sleep

Have you ever gone to bed feeling tired and instead off drifting peacefully, you find yourself lying wide awake an hour later wondering “WHY CAN’T I SLEEP???”.

Don’t worry, this has happened to all of us at some point, you’re definitely not alone. Sleep is so important in making sure we’re the best version of ourselves whilst awake, and not getting enough can throw us totally off our ‘A’ game.

Lucky for you we have put together some suggestions for what NOT to do before going to sleep. Read on to learn what to avoid to get the best possible night’s sleep, every night.

insomnia

Try not to worry

We’ve all done it – gone to bed to try and get a decent night’s sleep then lain there thinking about work, home, family, things that need to be done, what someone said today, where you need to be tomorrow, is the back door locked?!

There can be so much to worry about daily in the society we live in, it’s no wonder it keeps some of us awake at night.

With our lives shared online, through social media and instant messaging, many of us are in constant digital contact with others.

There is pressure to have certain things, to look a certain way, to behave in a certain way and conform to a set of perceived standards, both personally and professionally.

Some of us worry about what’s happening around us and with 24/7 news sites and apps it can become overwhelming for people of all ages. All these things can affect our ability to switch off at night.

Ways to help with anxiety and worrying can include meditation, yoga, confiding in someone or going for a walk. There are also breathing techniques you can try to help calm down and relax.

Check out our blog ‘How to get to sleep fast’ for more suggestions on how to relax.

Avoid caffeine for sleep benefits

Caffeine is most often found in drinks such as tea and coffee, although energy drinks and fizzy drinks can contain high amount of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and experts say it can even help to boost cognitive functioning.

However the down side is that caffeine can adversely affect your circadian rhythms by inhibiting your body’s ability to produce melatonin – that helpful hormone which encourages us to feel sleepy.

You will be able to feel the effects of drinking a caffeinated drink between 30-60 minutes after consumption, but caffeine can still affect your body many hours later. Therefore, you should limit your caffeine intake in the afternoon, so it doesn’t stop you falling asleep at bedtime.

avoid caffeine for sleep benefits

Avoid certain foods for better sleep

Our diet plays an important role in the quality of our sleep. Being overweight can inhibit your ability to fall, and stay, asleep. Consequently, being tired and not getting enough sleep can make us more prone to overindulging and can stop us feeling full, which leads to a cyclical pattern which can be hard to break.

For a restorative night’s sleep try to avoid fatty food or carbohydrate-heavy meals as these will take longer for your body to digest. 

Digestion of a heavy meal can keep you awake and stop you feeling sleepy, or if you do fall asleep, it can make you restless and unsettling during the night.

Sugary foods can also affect your sleep. The insulin needed to break down the sugars converts it to energy which can consequently give you a burst of stimulation when you’d rather be preparing to rest.

Avoid sugary snacks close to bedtime to ensure your body is able to relax and unwind ready for falling asleep.

For optimal sleep it is said that it is best to have your last meal 3 hours before you go to sleep.

bad foods for sleep

Don’t exercise too close to bedtime

Regular exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy body and mind. Being a healthy weight and having an active lifestyle is a proven way to ensure consistent sleep health as well as reducing your risk of certain diseases, it helps to maintain a strong body and ensures better cardiovascular health.

Exercising, or any activity which increases your heartrate, encourages your body to produce endorphins which are known as natural mood elevators and painkillers.

Aerobic exercise also reduces the body’s stress hormones. The effects of exercise on your brain on body are tremendous and play a big part in helping you to feel tired and sleeping restfully.

Raising your heart rate also increases your body temperature which can stop you feeling tired and keep you awake at nighttime. 

Exercising before bed is not recommended as the ‘high’ this can induce is initially stimulating and can make you feel way more alert than sleepy.

Reduce screen time

We are exposed to more blue light that ever before as many of our devices use LED technology which involves high amounts of blue light.

Blue light wavelengths are short and high-energy and we can detect this light through both our eyes and skin.

Exposure to blue light towards the end of the day acts as a stimulant and inhibits the body’s production of melatonin, that super helpful sleep-inducing hormone.

Avoid watching screens too close to bedtime to ensure your body is best prepared for sleep.

Swap your phone for a book or use a candle as a main light source before you go to bed to help your brain switch off.

Avoid alcohol for better sleep

Drinking alcohol depresses your central nervous system and reduces brain activity, making you feel relaxed and lethargic which can help you fall asleep.

However, the quality of your sleep when drinking excessively is drastically reduced. Falling asleep quickly after consuming alcohol sends many of us straight into a deep sleep which reduces the amount of time spent in other sleep stages.

This imbalance can cause us to sleep fitfully, wake early and struggle to get back to sleep again. Consuming liquids in excess can also keep you up at night, adding to the poor-quality night’s sleep.

It is best to avoid drinking excessively before bed to ensure you sleep restfully throughout the night.

Don’t go to bed too early

Have you read our recent blog article about ‘How to fix your sleep schedule’?

Setting up a regular bedtime routine is one of the best ways to get to sleep fast, to sleep well and to get a consistently good amount of sleep.

This is why new mothers are encouraged to establish a feeding and sleeping routine for new babies as early as possible.

As a proven strategy for settling babies into a familiar and comfortable routine it benefits not only themselves but new mothers who may be sleep deprived too.

Going to bed earlier than normal can throw your routine out the window and make it much trickier to fall asleep.

So try to go to bed at the same time each night, weekdays and at the weekend.

dont go to bed too early for better sleep

How to get better sleep

The experts recommend that we get between 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night, so this is the target number to try and work towards. Working to a sleep schedule can help your body know when to feel tired and when to wake up.

Maintaining a healthy diet and weight, exercising regularly and making sure you get enough daylight exposure, will all contribute to making you to feel tired at bedtime. Most importantly, try to avoid all the above before going to sleep!

when should you sleep naked

Why is it so hard to sleep in a modern world?

Why is it so hard to get to sleep in our modern world?

We are living in an age where information is at our fingertips and we are connected to the modern world and those around us constantly. Mobile technology has enabled us to communicate more, to access others easily, to be more available and logged in all the time. Many now seem to wonder; why is it so hard to sleep in a modern world?

These days we all have a mobile device – it’s not a generational thing either. Our Granny’s have iPads, our kids have tablets and our teenagers have smartphones. We are able to get hold of almost anything at almost any time and the world is more accessible that it has ever been before. 

But is all of this a good thing?! Or is this level of connectivity contributing to our sleep problems more than ever??

For some, perpetual connectivity comes with constant pressure. Pressure to be available, pressure to look and behave like those perceived to be looking and behaving perfectly, pressure to eat certain things, go certain places and have specific things.

This quest for perceived perfection has taken over many of our lives and is taking its toll on our mental health and affecting our ability to sleep. Ever heard that saying ‘the grass is always greener’? Well, social media allegedly tells us what everyone else is up to but a lot of what we see is not actually real life – just a filtered version of the good parts.

Modern technology has jumped in leaps and bounds in recent decades with mobile devices getting smarter, TV’s getting bigger, screens becoming more real and in the midst of all of this, have we stopped to wonder if maybe this level of exposure is detrimental to our health?

How we sleep at night has never been more important when faced with the modern world we live in.

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Way back when, before electricity and artificial lights, our physiological selves woke with the sun, experienced an active waking lifestyle during daylight houses and felt sleepy with its setting, shutting down our homeostatic drives ready for restorative sleep. 

Our circadian rhythms were in tune with the regular cycle of light and dark dictated to by the passing of day and night. Now we are exposed to light from the moment we wake to long after dark in the form of our phones, computers, tablets and other devices. This prolific and prolonged exposure to light must be having an effect of our sleep quality too, right?

How does light exposure affect sleep?

Light exposure, especially the blue light many of our screens use, has been found to hinder melatonin production and can keep us alert when we really should be starting to feel tired. The average time spent in front of a screen must be at an all-time high and it’s no wonder many of us are feeling sleep anxiety. 

Scrolling through your phone before bed, working on your tablet in the evening or even watching TV before you go to sleep can all affect your bodies circadian rhythms and obstruct our ability to produce melatonin – that helpful hormone that helps us to feel sleepy. 

Rather than inducing tiredness, light is stimulating and gets us ready for action, not ready for bed!

Why can’t I sleep?

With so much going on around us all the time, it’s no wonder our brains sometimes struggle to switch off at the end of a busy day. Bad habits such as reading work emails late at night, scrolling through our social media news feeds and even reading on tablets and e-readers before bed expose us to light at a time when our bodies should be feeling sleeping and powering down for the night.

Let’s look at some of the reasons you may be struggling to sleep at night.

Devices

Our screens, and we all have them in our homes, emit light which receptors in our eyes respond to. Messages are sent down our optical nerves to the brain telling us if they’re perceiving light then it must not be time to go to sleep yet. Our circadian rhythms are sent completely out of whack and melatonin, that wonderful sleep-inducing hormone, production is hindered.

Try turning off your device a couple of hours before bed to reduce eye strain and avoid those stimulating short wavelength blue light rays. If you find you are unable to switch off, consider buying some blue light glasses to help with this by filtering out much of the blue light waves.

Mental health issues

Worryingly many of us are being diagnosed with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar and eating disorders, at a rate that seems to be increasing. We are faced with so much more information than ever before that this can add to feelings of inadequacy, pressure and anxiety.

Juggling life and work can be challenging for many adults, or for teenagers, school and homework. Work-related stress can make it difficult to switch off leading us to spend longer at our computers and other devices, increasing this already high level of light exposure.

Meditation and breathing techniques are strategies you can use to try to relax and unwind and get your mind ready for sleep. See our blog ‘How to get to sleep fast’ for more information on techniques to help power down.

Obesity

Our modern world not only makes technology accessible to all, but food availability has increased too. When we are surrounded by fast food restaurants, microwave meals and food deliveries to your door 24/7, it’s no wonder more of us are overweight that ever before. 

The NHS predicts that at least 25% of UK adults are classed as obese. With obesity comes a variety of health issues which range from increased risk to certain conditions such as diabetes and poor heart health, mental health problems including depression and even some types of cancer. Being overweight can also adversely affect your sleep quality by causing you to snore or worse, give you sleep apnoea – where you stop breathing during your sleep.

How we sleep at night affects how we feel during the day too, where those of us having lower quality sleep may tend to feel sluggish and lack motivation during the day. Sleep deprivation disrupts our hormone production too and can lead us to over-eat by not being able to feel full and to crave sugary foods in larger portions that normal, perpetuating this cyclical pattern of being overweight and struggling to sleep.

To ensure a good quality nights sleep, try maintaining a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veg and exercise regularly to give yourself the best possible chance of a healthy body and healthy sleep.

How to get to sleep fast

To sum up, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep quality and duration and help with sleep anxiety.

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Fix your sleep schedule
  • Limit your device use
  • Set your room temperature to cool

… and read our blog of course – ‘How to get to sleep fast!’

is it better to sleep naked

Is it better to sleep naked?

Is it better to sleep naked?

In the modern world we’re living in – busy work schedules, hectic home life, socialising, working out, household chores, family commitments – we often find ourselves with so much (too much?) going on.

There are always places to be and things to do and the only respite some of us get are those precious hours spent in bed. With our minds and bodies in perpetual motion, sleep is more important now, in today’s world, than it has ever been before.

Why is sleep so important?

The experts believe that we sleep to restore and repair our bodies and brains. Whilst we sleep our body is able to carry out essential maintenance work and our minds can switch off and rest.

Without sleep our ability to function properly is diminished and we can find ourselves lacking in concentration, feel lethargic and unable to think clearly.

Studies have shown that the optimum amount of sleep for an adult is between 7 – 9 hours per night, with younger people needing more and older adults needing slightly less than this.

is it better to sleep naked

Is sleeping naked better for your health?

So we understand the importance of sleep but let’s get down to the crux of this debate – IS IT BETTER TO SLEEP NAKED?

There are limited scientific studies regarding sleeping naked, so we really can’t say for definite whether it is better to sleep naked, however we can look at the arguments both for and against naked sleeping to see why you should consider losing those layers.

Benefits of sleeping naked

With or without scientific evidence to prove it, there are some obvious benefits to sleeping naked.

✔ Temperature Control

There is an optimum temperature for falling asleep and as we begin to feel tired before bed, our bodies increase melatonin production which decreases our body temperature to enable us to fall asleep easily. Our temperature continues to decrease throughout the night.

Sleeping naked can help us to lower our temperature quicker at bedtime, not only helping us to fall asleep faster but the absence of clothing can help us achieve better sleep quality by ensuring we maintain a constant cool temperature all night long.

✔ Better quality sleep

Keeping cool is one of the main benefits of sleeping naked. Being cool and staying cool is an excellent way to maintain better sleep quality. Even a slight rise in room temperature during the night can interrupt your circadian rhythms and cause you to wake up.

Once awake, it can be tricky to get back to sleep, especially if it is warm. Wearing less, or no, clothing whilst you sleep gives you the best chance of staying asleep by keeping your body temperature at a consistently cool level.

✔ Improved sexual health

For both men and women, the absence of underwear for a prolonged amount of time, such as when asleep, can help airflow around the genitals. In women, this ventilation can reduce bacteria and make yeast infections less likely.

For men, exposure to cool air by sleeping naked can reduce the testicular temperature which may lead to improved fertility.

when should you sleep naked

✔ Fertility

Some experts believe that tight-fitting underwear can have an adverse effect on mens fertility. Compression of the testicles can lead to increased testicular temperatures which can potentially reduce sperm count and motility.

Sleeping naked could be beneficial for men by lowering the temperature of the testicles and improving sperm health.

✔ Improved relationships

For couples who share a bed, sleeping naked may actually improve your relationship. Skin-to-skin contact leads to increased production of oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’.

This hormone plays an important part in attachment building and promoting feelings of connection. Evidence to support this can be found amongst studies into ‘skin time’ between parents of newborn babies and the importance of this skin-to-skin contact in building attachments.

Sleeping naked with your partner can promote feelings of intimacy, not just while you’re in close contact in bed but outside the bedroom too. Shared intimacy makes couples feel close to one another which can help improve relationships.

✔ Mental wellbeing

There is a certain sensuality in sleeping naked. The heighted sense of connection with the materials touching your skin can feel good and promote feelings of positivity and confidence.

In fact, one study in 2017 found that spending more time naked increased ‘life satisfaction’, boosted self-esteem and promoted positive body image perception. It’s not always possible to spend time naked during the day, so grab your fix at nighttime and pass on those pyjamas.

When should you sleep naked – or not

We would suggest that you only try sleeping naked if you live in your own space either by yourself or with close family who don’t mind seeing you naked. We’re not saying that you have to parade yourself around the house in front of your mum, your nan and your neighbours.

Just that if you have housemates, roommates or people in the household you’d rather didn’t see you naked, you might want to consider alternatives.

Sometimes we have to get up in the night to use the toilet, if there is an emergency, to make a midnight snack or maybe you sleepwalk. These are examples of why you should consider wearing pyjamas to bed instead of nothing. Choose nightwear made from natural fibres that is loose-fitting and comfortable instead if you’re unsure about sleeping totally naked or opt for loose underwear instead and take a step towards sleeping naked.

Top tip – if you do decide to sleep naked, keep a dressing gown close in case you need to get up during the night!

How to fall asleep fast – naked or not!

Whether you decide to sleep naked, semi-naked or not at all naked, there are still some surefire ways to get to sleep fast.

• Reduce screen time before bed
• Maintain a healthy diet
• Exercise regularly
• Sleep in a dark bedroom or wear a sleep mask
• Keep to your sleep schedule
• Avoid work, confrontation or anxiety close to bedtime
• Get lots of daylight exposure during the day
• Wear blue light blocking glasses in the evening

For more information on how to get to sleep fast, check out our recent blog by clicking here.

Sleeping naked won’t work for everyone and it’s more important to go to bed feeling comfortable to ensure the best night’s sleep.

8 hours sleep

How to fix your sleep schedule

What is a sleep schedule?

As human beings, our daily habits and routines drive our behaviours – in fact we often describe ourselves as ‘Creatures of Habit’. Our bodies have the tendency to do certain things at regular intervals; we tend to feel sleepy at the same time each night; we feel hungry at similar times each day and many of us have regular times to use the bathroom.

Repetitive patterns of behaviour mean that some of our functioning can become almost automatic enabling us to act more efficiently and often without thinking about what we’re doing.

Our sleep schedule is perhaps the most important routine in our busy lives. This is the time we go to sleep and the time we wake up each day, as well as the amount of sleep we allow ourselves.

Many of us maintain healthy sleep schedules without too much conscious effort but some of us struggle to go to bed, fall asleep and stay asleep. The good news is, focusing on improving your sleep schedule can help you achieve that coveted 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night.

sleep schedule

Why is a sleep schedule important?

Taking control of your sleep schedule can totally revolutionise, not only the way you sleep at night, but how you feel during the day too. If you struggle to switch off at night, find you can’t fall asleep easily or have a tendency to go to bed too late, then resetting your sleep schedule will help teach your body when to be tired, when to go to bed and when to wake up.

Getting more high-quality sleep will enable your body to function better, your mind to focus more and may make you feel more energetic during the day.

Our sleep schedules are so important as they help us to maintain consistent patterns of sleep which encourage the kind of high-quality sleep we need to rest and restore our body and mind.

If you’re in the habit of going to bed too late, shifting your sleeping schedule can help you feel tired earlier and therefore want to go to bed earlier.

Reasons your sleep schedule might be off kilter

Those of us who are night owls may find that they don’t feel sleepy until late at night. Going to bed late at night is not an issue so long as you’re getting the recommended amount of sleep each night. However, if you go to bed late and wake up early, you may find that you’re not getting enough of those precious Z’s.

Working shifts can also interfere with your sleep schedule. If your shift pattern is not long enough for you to create a new daily routine, this constantly fluctuating pattern of sleeping can leave you struggling to find the best time to go to bed for the optimum amount of sleep.

There are other factors which can throw your sleep schedule into chaos. Women who are pregnant might find themselves hotter than previously which can affect your ability to get to sleep. For those in the later stages of pregnancy, getting comfortable may also disrupt your sleep schedule, leaving you feel tired and lacking in energy.

Anxiety and stress can affect your sleep schedule too. Lying awake worrying about work, family, life may mean that you’re getting a reduced amount of sleep. This in turn can become a destructive cycle of worrying more the less you sleep.

Our article on ‘How to get to sleep fast’ has some different breathing techniques you can try to help relax and bring on those much-needed sleep hormones.

tips to fix your sleep schedule

Tips to fix your sleep schedule

The good news is that fixing your sleep schedule is easy with some minor lifestyle adjustments. Stop worrying about ‘why can’t I sleep’, by following the simple steps below.

1. Fix your wake-up time.

If you know what time you have to get up each day, you can work backwards to find the optimal time for going to bed to ensure you still get the recommended amount of sleep. Sticking to a routine like this, even at the weekends, can help your body readjust to a new sleep schedule with practice. If you have a big change to make, we suggest you make small adjustments to your sleep schedule until you get to the perfect bedtime that works for you.

2. Get plenty of daylight exposure

Exposure to light is a trigger for your circadian rhythm – the biological cycle that regulates sleep. Getting outside as soon as possible in the morning can encourage feelings of wakefulness in the morning and consequently your body knows roughly when it should start to feel tired later in the day. Avoid too much light exposure close to bedtime as this will make you feel more awake and less tired.

3. Reduce blue light exposure

Blue light wavelengths are short and high-energy. We can detect light through both our eyes and skin. Exposure to blue light towards the end of the day acts as a stimulant and inhibit the body’s production of melatonin, that wonderful sleep-inducing hormone. Avoid watching screens too close to bedtime to ensure your body is prepared for sleep.

4. Exercise during the day

Exercising regularly has many benefits – maintaining a healthy bodyweight, encourages a healthy heart, promotes mental wellbeing and helps us fight off health conditions and diseases, to mention just a few. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy sleep schedule.

Expending energy on an activity can promote feelings of tiredness and body fatigue as well as boosting our mood – all of which will help us to feel tired later in the day. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime as this will raise your body temperature and reduce the production of melatonin.

exercise for sleep

How to reset your sleep schedule

Change your sleep schedule by first working out what time you need to get up. Work backwards by approximately 8 hours to find the time you need to go to sleep ideally.

Now add a little time for your regular bedtime routine, getting undressed, brushing your teeth etc, and this should be your new bedtime.

If this is a lot different to the time you’ve been going to bed, then you may need to work to this new bedtime target in 15-minute increments across several days.

Common Sleep Myths – Fact or Fiction?

Sleep myths – Fact or fiction?

We spend around a third of our lives asleep. When you stop and think about this, it seems crazy that we could spend 25 YEARS unconscious if we live to the grand old age of 75! Say, whaaaaaaaaat.

It’s no surprise then that there are common misconceptions about the subject. Sleep is widely believed to be vital for the restoration and reparation of our bodies and brains, and all creatures do it differently.

See our articles on ‘How to get to sleep fast’ and ‘How to fix your sleep schedule’ for more information about why we sleep, how to sleep better and what to do when you can’t sleep.

We’ve looked at some of the most common and interesting ‘myths’ surrounding the topic of sleeping and have blown the fictions wide open, for you, our esteemed readers. Read on and enjoy.

You need 8 hours of sleep a night on average

More and more research is being conducted into the role of sleep and we know more now than ever, although there are some sleep mysteries that still remain.

The National Sleep Foundation commissioned a study into the optimum number of hours of sleep needed per night, for a range of age groups, and concluded that 7 – 9 hours of sleep was best for adults. Teenagers, newborns and children in general need more than this whilst the recommendation for older adults was 7 – 8 hours.

FACT – 8 hours of sleep a night is a perfect amount of sleep for adults.

8 hours sleep

You eat spiders while you’re asleep

Imagine this – you’re a small house spider looking for a quiet dark corner in which to live. You find yourself in a dark room, perfect, but there are some very large, noisy creatures. What do you do next?

Do you decide to investigate, climb onto one of these monsters faces and enter the hole you find wide open there?!

NO, of course you don’t. You run like hell in the other direction and find another place to hang out. This is a complete myth. Spiders are super sensitive to vibrations and both our heartbeats and breathing would put all species of house spider off approaching us, whilst awake or otherwise.

Not to mention the fact that if you felt 8 hairy little legs creeping over your face, you’d almost certainly wake up.

FICTION – we definitely do NOT eat 4 – 8 spiders a year!

The best time to exercise is at night, before bed

Exercising regularly helps us to maintain a healthy body, keeps our weight at a healthy level and works wonders for our mental wellbeing by releasing endorphins which make us feel happy.

These are all facts and have been scientifically proven by experts globally. The best time to exercise however, is another matter. This will depend on you as an individual, your routine, your work and your eating habits. Some people may find they can only workout before bed. Exercising late at night is still going to be better for you than not exercising at all.

Some sleep studies have suggested that exercising too close to bedtime can raise your body temperature which inhibits melatonin production and can delay you feeling tired and make you struggle to fall asleep. As said, this is personal to us as individuals. I can say for certain that if I went for a run before bed, I would definitely be crawling under the covers afterwards!

FICTION – the best time to exercise can only be determined by you and your schedule.

“Studies have shown that the quality of your sleep when drinking excessively is drastically reduced.”

Alcohol makes you sleep better

Many of us have enjoyed a night out and managed to over-indulge in a drink or two too many.

That feeling when you just need to go to bed after drinking too much has led many people to believe that drinking alcoholic drinks makes you sleep better.

It is true that alcohol depresses your central nervous system and reduces brain activity, making you feel relaxed and lethargic which can help you fall asleep.

However, studies have shown that the quality of your sleep when drinking excessively is drastically reduced. Falling asleep fast when inebriated sends many of straight into a deep sleep, known as REM sleep.

This creates an imbalance between the slow-wave sleep stages which can cause us to sleep fitfully, wake early and struggle to get back to sleep again. Consuming liquids in excess can also keep you up at night, adding to the poor-quality nights sleep.

FICTION – alcohol may make you fall asleep faster, but the quality of that sleep is often poor.

alcohol and sleep

Cheese gives you nightmares

This is one we all must have heard before – eating cheese before bed will give you bad dreams. Well, there doesn’t seem to be any conclusive research out there that dairy affects dreaming, however certain studies have made a correlation between cheese and the type of dreams we have.

One particular study was conducted by the British Cheese Board and whilst there was no evidence to suggest that people slept worse after consuming cheese, some did report that different cheeses caused different types of dreams – weird.

The bad reputation of cheese as a nightmare-inducing midnight snack may be due to the amino acids contained within this food item. These proteins help the production of serotonin and melatonin which are those lovely sleep-inducing hormones that help us fall asleep.

Whether this is the reason or not, we suggest that you avoid eating anything, cheese included, too close to bedtime as the process of digesting your food can keep us in a state of wakefulness and affect our ability to fall asleep.

FICTION – eating cheese before bed does not give you nightmares.

Only overweight people get sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition where someone stops and starts breathing whilst they’re asleep. Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between obesity and sleep apnea, although this condition can affect people with a normal BMI.

While being overweight is one of the health conditions that can increase the likelihood of sleep apnea, it is not the only one.

Facial anatomy can also increase your chances of suffering from sleep apnea. Those with large tonsils, large necks and small jaws may be at risk of this condition too.

FICTION – sleep apnea can affect people who aren’t obese.

You only have dreams during REM sleep

Some people dream vividly and some people don’t dream at all. Some of us remember our dreams but others don’t. Dreaming is still a bit of a mystery and psychologists have studied this for years.

The experts have not managed to pinpoint why we dream but can confirm how we dream. Research has concluded that we dream in both REM and non-REM sleep stages.

Scientists say that REM dreams tend to be more vivid and can be more outlandish than those experienced during other sleep stages but that we do dream throughout the night.

FICTION – we dream at all stages of sleep, not just REM.

hot drink can help you sleep

A hot drink can help you to sleep

This is an age-old tale that we probably heard from our grannies – but does a nice warm drink help you get to sleep? Research has proven inconclusive and there is no definitive scientific proof that drinking a hot drink before bed can aid sleep.

However, there are elements to this ‘myth’ that may be true. Drinks such as chamomile tea and warm milk are often associated with making you feel sleepy. Let’s look at each individually.

Milk contains that lovely amino acid, tryptophan, which helps us produce our wonderful sleep hormones. This could be why drinking warm milky drinks before bed can induce feelings of relaxation. Chamomile has long been known for its health benefits and has been linked as a remedy to all kinds of ailments including diabetes, anxiety and for relieving menstrual pain.

One study claimed that chamomile acted like a benzodiazepine which is a drug that can induce sleep. Again there is no conclusive proof but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a super helpful flower.

FACT & FICTION – a hot drink doesn’t necessarily send you straight to sleep but a warm glass of milk before bed may help you to feel tired.

what-is-melatonin

What is melatonin?

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a natural hormone created by our body, is it our ‘sleep hormone’. It’s what makes you feel sleepy in the evening & keeps you asleep through the night.

It is a very important hormone as it promotes longevity, immune health & well-being due to sleep being a contributing factor to good mental health.

what-is-melatonin

What does melatonin do?

When the sun starts to set the brain receives information from the eyes that it is dark. This information is passed through the optic nerve form the eye into the pineal gland, this is when melatonin production begins.

Humans in a modern society surrounded by technology & screens have not been able to adapt to these ‘new’ additions. Seeing blue light in the evenings after sunset can completely disrupt & reduce the amount of melatonin we produce naturally, meaning less optimised sleep.

Things that impact natural melatonin production negatively

• Blue light
• Looking at screens after sunset
• Light sleeping environment
• Eating too close to bedtime
• Having wifi on too close to your bed
• Drinking caffeine after 1pm
• Stress
• Alcohol consumption

things-that-negatively-impact-sleep

How to increase melatonin naturally

Blue light blocking glasses
• Dark bedroom (or sleep mask)
• Cool bedroom
• Getting natural sunlight in the daytime
• Eating tryptophan rich foods
• Exercise regularly
Meditation

positive for sleep

How does blue light affect melatonin production?

Blue light is both good & bad for sleep depending on how & when you absorb blue light. This is because the timing dictates how it affects melatonin production in humans at nighttime.

Going for walks in daylight, especially in direct sunlight is great for the production of melatonin in the evening time.

The reason for this is the blue light from the sun can help regulate the human body clock, meaning that it’ll reset to stay more awake in the day and then become tired after sunset.

So getting daylight from going on a walk every day, can help your body know when it’s the right time to produce melatonin.

sunlight-for-sleep

Science has shown that blue light absorption in the evenings, as shown in this study, can be detrimental to sleep as it can suppress the body’s natural melatonin production.

The main place humans absorb blue light after sunset in todays world, is from screens. This is becoming a large problem across modern society.

With this suppression of melatonin, it is harder for people to get to sleep & their sleep quality is reduced significantly. This is why there it is more common for people to be using blue light blocking glasses in the evenings, that block out more than 90% of blue light.

The reason for wearing these is to help optimise & increase your natural production of melatonin, by blocking out blue light in the evenings.

Therefore, blue light shouldn’t always be seen as ‘bad light’, because if you receive natural blue light in the daytime it can be beneficial for you.

Caffeine and sleep

Drinking caffeine in the afternoon or evening can affect sleep negatively because it is a stimulant that has a 5 hour half life. That means that means that after 10 hours there can still be some caffeine left in the body after consumption.

The reason that this is bad is because caffeine works on the adrenal glands, which make you feel alert. The problem with this is, it can delay the onset of the production of melatonin.

When you’re trying to sleep you need the complete opposite feelings, like feeling relaxed. Caffeine can increase onset time to sleep by inhibiting the production of melatonin.

Because of this, it can also reduce the quality of sleep & and the total time asleep. Reducing your total sleep time over a long period could result in some negative health side effects.

How does alcohol affect sleep?

Contrary to what some people used to believe, alcohol does not help with sleep in any way. It has been used over the years to ‘help’ people fall asleep, as it is a sedative & can make you feel sleepy.

The truth is, when alcohol is in your system and you go to sleep, you aren’t really sleeping properly.

alcohol-sleep

What’s happening is that the body has been sedated, it is not repairing & recovering through the different sleep cycles. There is a complete reduction in melatonin production in the body, hence why your body doesn’t go through all the sleep cycles properly.

A study showed how different levels of alcohol affected sleep. The results were as follows:

Low amounts of alcohol decreased sleep quality by 9.3%

(less than 2 drinks for men / less than 1 drink for women)

Moderate amounts of alcohol decreased sleep quality by 24%

(approximately 2 drinks for men / 1 drink for women)

High amounts of alcohol decreased sleep quality by 39.2%

(more than 2 drinks for men / more than 1 drink for women)

Now as you can see from these stats from the study, the effects of alcohol are very drastic on sleep markers.

Even just one alcoholic drink can disrupt sleep quality by nearly 10%. This is a huge number if you were to use alcohol before sleep for prolonged periods.

Meditation to fall asleep

Meditation has been proven to help with sleep, as it can help improve the amount of melatonin serum in your blood as shown in this study.

This could be due to the relaxed harmony between mind & body. We know that stress can cause us to have worse quality sleep, so it makes sense that meditation may be able to improve sleep markers.

It appears that meditation can be used to battle insomnia, as this study shows that mindfulness meditation could be a viable treatment. One important thing to note is that meditation is a skill that takes a lot of practice.

Once you have gained knowledge and experience practicing meditating, the potential to alleviate insomnia & improve sleep quality is something to really consider for your health & wellbeing.

What foods contain melatonin?

When looking for foods that contain melatonin, you can also look for is foods contain tryptophan. It’s a precursor to melatonin production, meaning it is the building blocks to the sleep hormone. The following foods contain melatonin:

• Pistachios
• Fatty Fish
• Rice
• Bananas
• Goji Berries
• Oats
• Mushrooms
• Corn
• Tart Cherries
• Eggs

banana for sleep

Can you supplement with melatonin?

In the US you can buy melatonin over the counter in any store, but in the UK is has to be prescribed by a doctor. 

But when taking any new supplement or drug, you should always speak to a medical professional or doctor first, even if you can buy the products over the counter.

Why is melatonin banned in the UK

Melatonin is not banned in the UK. It is actually legal to use within the UK & is deemed safe, it just has to be prescribed. 

The reasons for this is that the long term effects of melatonin supplementation has not been studied.

The worry is that using melatonin consistently for years may decrease your natural production, which in theory could cause some health problems. 

The current advice is to use melatonin supplementation for short periods of time, only for when you’re having sleep issues.

Benefits of melatonin

If you do get melatonin prescribed, some of the benefits include:

• Sleep wake cycles regulation
• Jetlag help – reset your clock
• For delayed sleep wake phase disorder
• Promote eye health
• Antioxidant
• Potential Anti-inflammatory

Sleep wake cycles that are slightly out of pattern can be potentially reset by taking melatonin.

This is why melatonin is used for jetlag to try and get the body to re-adjust to the time zone by taking melatonin at nighttime.

It can essentially help your body readjust to its surroundings, as humans are not adapted to moving time zones so quickly, through plane travel.

It is noted that melatonin can promote eye health, have anti-inflammatory properties & is able to reduce free radical damage.

If you do not want to take medication, you should maybe consider these melatonin alternatives.

is-there-an-alternative-to-melatonin

Is there an alternative to melatonin?

Is there an alternative to melatonin?

Melatonin is the body’s natural sleep hormone that it produced within the body at nighttime, it can also be taken exogenously as a supplement. Melatonin cannot be bought over the counter in the UK. 

This is due to some long-term safety concerns, in thinking that by taking it you could deplete your own body’s natural production of melatonin. This theoretically could end up disrupting your sleep over time if it were to be true, there is no evidence to support this theory though as it is deemed to be safe to take.

Do doctors prescribe melatonin?

Yes, doctors do prescribe melatonin in the UK, but they often try to work out if there are other ways to help your sleep without turning to melatonin.

That’s why people often search; is there an alternative to melatonin?

Yes, there are alternatives available that can help your natural production of melatonin. some of these can improve your sleep markers. There are also natural sleep aids available that can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer & get deeper sleep.

Natural sleep aids uk

Below are a selection of different natural sleep aids uk that can help you optimise your sleep. Some are supplements, some are tips & techniques that can help you boost your own melatonin naturally, to save you from having to supplement with it. These are deemed more natural alternatives.

natural-sleep-aids-uk

Magnesium glycinate uk

Magnesium glycinate uk is a popular & well tolerated type of magnesium, it is a good alternative to melatonin that can be used before you go to bed. It is very good at reducing the stress hormone ‘cortisol’, which if high at night it can disrupt sleep dramatically.

Magnesium glycinate is often added into help with recovery from athletic performances, because of these cortisol reduction effects.

magnesium-glycinate-uk-melatonin-alternative

Magnesium glycinate also binds to the GABA receptor in the brain, this helps slow your brain activity down so that you can relax. Being able to unwind is an issue for some individuals, so implementing magnesium glycinate into your nighttime regime might be beneficial for those people.

Doses tend to be around 400-500mg for magnesium glycinate. Always speak to your doctor first before taking any supplements.

You can find out more details about the mechanism of magnesium for sleep here.

L-theanine sleep

L-theanine is very commonly used along side magnesium for sleep purposes, it is often seen stacked against other natural supplements as it has a calming affect. When used in the mornings along side coffee, it can reduce caffeine anxiety & calm the ‘jitters’.

When L-theanine is used in a nighttime setting, it is good to take it around 30 minutes before your intend to go to sleep.

L-theanine works by slowing down/blocking the production of excitatory neurotransmitters, these can often keep you awake by increasing your brain activity.

alpha-brainwaves-l-theanine

It is known enhance alpha brain waves. These alpha brain waves are known to be produced when you’re feeling calm & relaxed.

When you’re lying down relaxing before you go to sleep, you’ll be starting to produce these alpha brain waves. Being able to enhance the alpha brain waves can promote even more relaxation, which in turn can promote a faster onset of sleep.

A good dose for sleep is said to be between 200-300mg per day.

5HTP for sleep

5HTP is comes from the substance L-tryptophan, which is the sole precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is the precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin, which is why 5HTP is seen as a melatonin free sleep aid, as it helps you naturally produce the hormone through other means.

Other effects of 5HTP are noted to be a mood enhancement & also have potential to help depressive symptoms, due to it being the precursor to serotonin.

There needs to be more studies on this matter as the evidence in inconclusive for these hypothesis as stated in this study.

Best time to take 5HTP as melatonin alternative

The best time to take 5HTP for sleep would be 30-45 minutes before bedtime, with a dose of around 200mg.

Do not take 5HTP if you’re currently taking SSRI medication & always speak to a doctor before taking any new supplements.

5htp-sleep-melatonin

Glycine for sleep

Glycine is an amino acid that is also a neurotransmitter that the human body creates from biochemical compounds. Glycine can be consumed through a lot of meats, fish & eggs.

It can help you fall asleep more quickly, as it can be an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This means that it can reduce neuron firing within the brain, which makes your brain is less active so that you can fall asleep.

Glycine can help lower the body’s core temperature, which as we know having a lower body temperature can increase the production of melatonin & improve your sleep quality, as shown by this study. You can read more on how to get to sleep fast here.

glycine-for-sleep

When to take glycine

For sleep, you should look to take 3-5g about 30-45 minutes before your bedtime. That way it has enough time to be absorbed by the body, so that it can help you fall asleep faster once you go to bed. As always, speak to your doctor every time you’re considering adding a new supplements to your regime.

When to take holy basil for sleep

Holy basil has been around for thousands of years, it has been used in Indian medicine for an array of conditions. Holy basil is considered to be good for the body, mind & spirit.

This holy herb has been noted anecdotally to potentially reduce anxiety in some individuals & improve. In this study it was said that sleep problems & feelings of fatigue reduced, this it thought to have been due to the reduced stress levels of participants.

when-to-take-holy-basil-for-sleep

Holy Basil for high cortisol

There’s still a lot more research needed to be done on this plant, but it could be useful for some individuals due to its potential cortisol reducing effects.

We know that sometimes when we have high cortisol, it can really disrupt sleep. This is why holy basil is being used more often for sleep issues & anxiety issues caused by high cortisol.

Holy basil dose

One study showed that taking 500mg of holy basil made people feel less anxious, stressed & depressed.

But doses range from 300mg-2000mg & for sleep it would be beneficial to take holy basil 30 minutes before you go to bed.

As always, its best to speak to your doctor before taking any new supplements or medications.

Best blue light blocking glasses for sleep

Blue light blocking glasses are a recent revelation & have been implemented into people’s nighttime routines to improve overall sleep quality.

These red lens glasses are a melatonin alternative because of the mechanism of blocking out blue light, it means that the human body will naturally upregulate and produce more melatonin naturally, which improves sleep.

This is important in modern day lifestyles because humans are surrounded by screens that emit blue light, which is sleep disrupting when absorbed in the evening. Humans were not designed to see blue light after sunset, but with the rapid introduction of technology & screens humans haven’t had time to adapt to this excess exposure.

Noted in this study, adding blue light blocking glasses to your routine can improve your onset time to sleep & sleep quality, due to the increase in melatonin serum in the body when worn 3 hours prior to sleep.

Best eye mask for sleeping

Darkness is essential for natural melatonin production to be at its most optimal levels. In todays society, it can sometimes be extremely hard to have a sleep environment that is completely dark.

Sleep masks help trick your brain into thinking it’s completely dark, even when its not. This is a good way of being able to increase your natural production of melatonin throughout the night, meaning that you can improve your sleep quality.

Sleep masks are seen as another melatonin alternative. It’s no surprise that as people become more health conscious & want to take care of their wellbeing, they are implementing sleep masks into their daily sleep routine habbits.

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