Precision Nutrition’s recent article discusses common sleep problems that people face, why they occur and how they can be addressed. Sleep anxiety, afternoon coffee habits, inconsistency in sleep-wake schedules and lack of exposure to sunlight are some of the reasons why people may not get enough sleep. Strategies to improve sleep include maintaining a consistent sleep-wake schedule, having a pre-sleep ritual, avoiding high-fat and high-calorie evening meals, avoiding energizing exercise in the evening, and keeping the bedroom dark.
Early waking and biphasic sleep patterns are relatively normal, and, according to Dr. Chris Winter, sleep specialist, there is no specific duration of sleep that every person needs. Alcohol, caffeine, intense evening exercise, a sedentary lifestyle and snuggling up to screens are some common factors that can affect one’s sleep. Alcohol may cause a fitful sleep and the metabolism of caffeine can block the function of adenosine, which makes one sleepy. Similarly, exercising close to bedtime may make one feel alert, and lack of activity can cause sleep difficulties. Blue light from electronic devices and overhead incandescent lighting can disrupt melatonin, making sleep elusive.
Precision Nutrition suggests ways to address these sleep-inhibiting factors. For instance, gentle movement like walking or slow yoga might be preferred close to bedtime rather than weight lifting or intense cardio which could make people feel alerted. Dim lighting, a relaxing bath or simply reading a book can be part of a wind-down routine which trains the brain to know it’s time to sleep. Getting sunlight within two hours of waking up, turning off electronics at least an hour before bedtime, and wearing a sleep mask may help create the right environment for sleep.
In short, improving sleep quality can improve overall wellness. Lack of sleep has been found to decrease productivity and create obesity risk as well as increase the possibility of mood disorders and cognitive decline in brain function. Helping clients understand how sleep affects mental and physical health can encourage better habits for consistent, restful sleep each night.