Sleep is as close as we will get to having the magic pill for health. It’s the elixir of longevity, great emotional and mental health, and is the only time of the day that the brain cleans itself out through the action of the glymphatic system. During sleep, fluid from the spine goes up into the brain and washes out uncleared debris from the brain. Nature has somehow figured out a way to bring homeostasis to every part of our body and yes, just like we have cleaning mechanisms in the gut which does housekeeping, we have similar mechanisms in our brain which only happens during stages of deep sleep.

I have said this before and will say this again, if sleep wasn’t vital to our existence, evolution would have done its best to wade it out of our life. Since sleep is still embedded in our DNA and humans spend 1/3rd of their lives in bed, there must be a deeper, intuitive power to sleep, which is not only vital for human evolution but is important for survival of our species. Sleep deprivation or intermittent disruptions to sleep have been linked to almost all neurological conditions, cardiovascular and circulatory issues, but most importantly in managing day to day activities. Today’s blog is all about optimising the sleep environment so that you can experience great sleep each time. This week’s blog is all about sleep hygiene and ways to bring down cortisol, our stress hormone, so that your body can produce melatonin.


Night Time Oasis: Your bedroom should be your sleep sanctuary. It should be structured in a way that as soon as you enter your room, you should begin to start feeling sleepy. Keeping your room cold, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal. Taking a warm bath before bedtime can also help your body dissipate some of the heat allowing your body to cool down. Having blackout curtains and wearing an eye mask for sleep should be a non-negotiable.  Incorporating night time rituals such as  lavender oils in a diffuser or just simply applying it before bedtime has shown to promote relaxation. Listening to some soothing music i.e. binaural beats or even some soft mediation music can help the brain wind down. If you can do some breathing exercises such as box breathing or just simple belly breathing, it will have a positive  impact on your sleep quality. Meditation is a modality of stress reduction which has shown to be impactful for ruminating and stressful thoughts before bedtime and can be implemented in your sleep time routine. One of my favourite apps is called OAK which incorporates stress reduction and loving kindness meditation.


Light Matters: Dimming the lights in the evening creates a more darkness-like environment, triggering the natural melatonin production cycle and promoting sleepiness. Priming your Circadian Rhythm in the morning with early morning sunlight allows for the cortisol awakening response to be higher and hence, will allow for your body to produce melatonin at night. Our bodies are naturally attuned to light and dark cycles. Darkness triggers the pineal gland in the brain to produce melatonin, signalling to our body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Exposure to bright light, especially blue light emitted from electronic devices and overhead lights, suppresses melatonin production. This disrupts our circadian rhythm and makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.


Gear Up for Comfort: Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow that support your body’s neck and spine alignment. A weighted blanket i.e. Gravity blankets can help you sleep deeply as they prevent the tossing and turning that may go along with a restless mind. Wearing comfortable clothes, which allow for heat to dissipate can also help with sleep.


Master Your Sleep Schedule: When it comes to sleep, our brain loves predictability. Going to bed every night at the same time and allowing for the body to wake up at a similar time, helps prime the cortisol awakening response to rise at a particular point and shut off at a particular point in the night. Individuals with the best sleep are usually the ones that have this routine unambiguously nailed down well.

Exercise and caffeine too late in the day can alter the quality of sleep. As a general rule, caffeine should be avoided later in the day. If needed, having a cup of decaf tea or coffee can be tolerated. If you are an individual who is sensitive to caffeine, please avoid decaf in the evening as well. Avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime as it can spike cortisol. As the day progresses, we like to see cortisol naturally decline which allows for melatonin to rise. If evenings and night time is the only time you can exercise, opt for calming activities like yoga, or light stretching to unwind.


Silence the Worries: If worries keep you up, write them down before bed. This clears your mind and allows you to address them in the morning. Stress and anxiety is one of the biggest culprits of poor sleep and is seen in individuals with depression. If you wake up during the middle of the night because of stress, having a small snack before bedtime can help balance out blood sugars and may reduce the chance of 2am waking’s.

In my personal experience, poor blood sugar management is the biggest cause of sleepless nights.  Poor blood sugar management during the day results in the same happening at night and the body wakes up as a compensation when blood sugars are low. Do reach out for an appointment or a discovery call if you are experiencing poor sleep.

I hope you enjoy great sleep tonight!