Last week I talked about a very simple, effective strategy for eating – one that can help you eat less, improve your relationship to food, and change your mindset and your body.
This week, I offer you one very simple and effective strategy for a better night’s sleep.
I’d venture to guess that most everyone understands how important sleep is – we’ve all experienced the unfortunate effects of even just one poor night’s sleep: grogginess, irritability, food cravings, joint pain, headaches, sluggishness, mood swings, caffeine dependence just to name a few.
But knowing sleep is important and making it a priority are two different things. I mean, there are plenty of things we know are good for us that we still struggle to do on a consistent basis (eat vegetables, get movement every day, stay hydrated, etc.).
And when you’re struggling to get quality sleep each night, making changes that can improve your sleep can understandably feel like a daunting task.
But what if I told you that with just one simple practice – in 10 minutes or less – you could get a better night’s sleep TONIGHT? Would you do it?
First of all, let's clarify why sleep is so important, and why it would make sense to do whatever possible to get the best sleep you can each night.
Sleep is crucial for nearly every system in your body; it is literally the foundation for your overall health and wellness. Sleep helps with everything from cognition and brain function, to immune health, metabolism (eg: weight management), hormones, decision making, mental and emotional health, gut function, and more.
You name it, sleep will help get it done!
So, what is this one trick that can get you better sleep ASAP?
But specifically, getting bright light into your eyes after you wake up in the morning.
Your body runs on an internal clock that keeps you on a 24-cycle – so you’re awake during the day and asleep at night (unless you do shift work or have a circadian rhythm condition, but that’s a whole other blog post!).
This 24-hour internal body clock is triggered by light – light is what signals to your body that it is time to be awake. Getting bright light into your eyes (to reach the specific neurons that regulate this clock) is the fastest and most effective way to “program” your circadian rhythm.
It’s essentially like winding up your clock so that it can run on time.
Unfortunately, we live inside for the most part. And the light we have inside is not bright enough to stimulate these neurons to help keep your body clock on schedule. In order to get the right amount of bright light into your eyes, you want to get out into the sunlight in the morning or you can use a light box or sun lamp to get the same effect. (And no, sitting by a window doesn’t really work either – it still takes way longer to get enough light through a window than outside or with a light box.)
All you need is 5-15 minutes of bright sunlight in the morning, within about an hour of waking up, to set your clock on schedule and help you not only be awake in the morning, but also to become sleepy at night and be able to go to bed and stay asleep.
If it’s very cloudy outside, 15-30 minutes would be ideal to get enough light into your eyes to do its job. But if it’s a sunny day, even just a few minutes and you’ll be good to go!
And if you’re like me and live somewhere where it’s very dark in the winter or you don’t always have the ability to get outside into the sun first thing in the morning, there are inexpensive light boxes or sun lamps that are very effective. (I personally use a light box for about 15 minutes each morning - I have one that is small and portable so I can even take it with me when I travel!)
That’s all there is to it – one incredibly simple but amazingly effective strategy to help you get a better night’s sleep tonight and every night: get 5-30 minutes of bright light into your eyes within an hour of waking up in the morning, whether from sunlight or using a light box, and start getting better sleep tonight.
Do you struggle with sleep or is your sleep quality/quantity pretty consistent? What tips or tricks do you use to help yourself get a good night's sleep? Leave a comment and let me know!
...for your free 30-minute consultation call, or visit https://calendly.com/meganfschall/consultation-call to get started!