Sleep scientists agree that sleep (and especially deep sleep) is THE most essential part of sleep cycle for rejuvenation, DNA repair, feeling rested and staying healthy
Sleep make us healtier, happier, less stressed, learn better, remember more, be more productive and much more. There are hundreds of factors affecting your sleep. Sleep is considered now as the most important health factor, especially deep sleep when you rejuvenate and reboot your health systems and immune function. For example, wakefulness is associated with mitochondrial stress and without sufficient sleep, neuron (DNA) degeneration sets in, which can lead to dementia and other health problems. There are now thousands of studies about the importance of sleep and the researchers agree that sleep is THE most important aspect of overall health and lower your risk of diseases.
There are three areas that are important for good, healthy sleep:
1) lifestyle (everything you do during the waking hours and building rest time into your daily schedule),
2) your sleep environment,
3) the state of your mind when you go to bed.
Below there is a very comprehensive list of environmental and lifestyle factors that can affect your sleep and top tips to remedy these adverse factors.
Low melatonin – light and electrosmog affect melatonin production – these are the most important environmental factors which need to be reduced
Here’s almost a complete list of the top lifestyle factors and environmental stressors affecting your sleep. The list focuses not only on things that can go wrong or are harmful but also what you can do to remedy them. If you’re already having problems with sleep and that is affecting your life, you know how important sleep is, so employing as many of the positive behaviours and minimising environmental stressors will greatly improve your sleep. If you’re not sure, feel free to contact me.
The complete list of environmental factors and lifestyle behaviours that can affect your sleep or are NOT good for you (and what to do about them)
- Electromagnetic pollution – electrosmog will affect melatonin production – reduce electro-smog; check the levels of electromagnetic pollution in your bedroom
- Wifi radiation – switch off wifi for the night!
- Dirty electricity – electrosmog will affect melatonin production
- Metal beds – any metal near your body can amplify electro-smog
- Metal spring mattresses – any metal near your body can amplify electro-smog
- Smart meters – unnecessary electrosmog
- Lack of total darkness when sleeping – sleep in total darkness if possible; but stress, not feeling safe at night can be linked to darkness, so if you don’t like darkness use the red/orange light (or a small Himalayan salt lamp) which will NOT affect melatonin production
- Air pollution – get an air purifier and negative ions generator
- Humidity – get a dehumidifier
- Noise pollution – get double glazing windows or earplugs
- Geopathic stress – Schumann Resonance (the Earth’s frequency) is disturbed by geopathic stress – get Helios3 device to boost the levels of Schumann Resonance
- Temperature (too hot or too cold) – get the temperature right your body. Some people sleep better and deeply in a cooler room. Find out what’s the optimum temperature for you.
- Lack of support ie a solid headboard – get a sold headboard so you feel safe and you have extra protection behind
- Bed not in the power/commanding position ie withe the back to the door or window – place some reflective objects to see what’s behind you
- Energy-saving lightbulbs – don’t have any, use traditional, incandescent or LED warm lighting
- Cactuses – they produce positive ions which can make the air heavy
- Alarm clocks and other electrical devices near your bed – unnecessary electrosmog and most likely the alarm clock might wake you up in the middle of deep sleep and you may feel groggy; time your sleep according to 90-min cycles of sleep, NOT how many hours of sleep you think you need. Sleep is devided into four or five 90-min cycles of three main phases: light sleep, deep sleep (which is the most restful and rejuvenating – the holly grail of health) and rapid eye movement (REM).
- Mirrors reflecting you in bed – can bounce light which will affect your melatonin production
- Lack of negative ions – air rich in negative ions is good for us – get a negative ioniser
- Heavy shelves or cupboards above the head – anything above your head can create an oppressive feeling
- Pictures behind you – read above
- Not feeling secure in bed – security and feeling safe in your bedroom are essential for good, healthy sleep – organise your home so it feels safe
- Dust mites – check for these
- Mold – a big health hazard, get rid of it as soon as possible
- Not sleeping naked – research suggests that sleeping naked can be beneficial because of low body temperature – it’s also a preference
- Mobile phones, tablets, computers – completely unnecessary electro-smog – don’t have any near bed
- Using loud alarm clocks – noise pollution in the morning – see if you can learn to wake up without the alarm clock, naturally, according to your sleep cycle
- Wrong, unergonomic cushions or uncomfortable mattresses – your mattress is probably the most important part of the furniture in your home – invest in a good one ie organic, foam, latex mattress
- Synthetic bedding – get natural bedding
- Work-related things – clear the bedroom space from work-related things
- Lack of magnesium malate or glycinate – bananas are packed with magnesium, which relaxes muscles and boosts melatonin; also our levels of serotonin – a hormone which is essential in the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone – can be boosted by eating certain foods, including chocolate; or get a magnesium spray
- Not reserving your bed for sleeping ie watching TV – bedrooms ideally need to be for sex and sleep
- Lots of blue light before going to sleep – light will affect your melatonin production
- Not having separate bedrooms – some people need separate bedrooms, if possible
- Lack of a window (yes, some bedrooms have no windows) – in the morning, you need to see daylight to regulate your melatonin production
- Not going to bed as early as possible, ideally between 9 and 10 p.m. – going to sleep before midnight has health benefits; “In the first part of the night you tend to have more deep sleep, which makes you feel strength rested, and in the second part you have REM sleep, which is dream sleep, where you lay down memories. Ensure you have eight hours to get both. For most of us, this means going to bed at about 10pm,” says Dr Hare, sleep expert; “The 90-minute phase before midnight is one of the most powerful phases of sleep, because it’s the period where the body is replenished,” “It’s rejuvenated on every level – physically, mentally, emotionally and, I believe, spiritually as well. There’s a lot of healing that takes place in that first phase of sleep.” says Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep expert and author of Tired But Wired: The Essential Sleep Toolkit
- Changing your bedtime – bedtime routine is good for good sleep; Dr Alanna Hare, a sleep consultant recommends, “Try to get up at the same time every morning – even on the weekend.”
- Not having an established and relaxing bedtime routine – read above
- Drinking fluids within two hours of going to bed so then you have to go to the toilet in the middle of the night – you don’t want to get up during the night, organise your liquid intake accordingly
- Caffeine – is good for the morning routine, not night
- Excess weight – but if you regulate your sleep, you can actually lose weight
- Not going to the bathroom right before bed so again you need to get up in the middle of the night – use common sense
- Eating at least three hours before bedtime, particularly grains and sugars – ideally, you shouldn’t eat after 6/7pm; “Eating right before we sleep can cause acid reflux, which will wake you up,” says Dr Hare. “Our bodies struggle to digest and sleep at the same time. Have your last meal about three hours before bed.” Dr Hare, sleep consultant
- Stress levels, not using any natural techniques for stress reduction or for insomnia – use tapping / EFT (emotional freedom technique), mindfulness, coherent breathing to optimise your HRV (heart rate variability)
- Not take a hot bath or shower before bed – having a warm bath with Epsom salts or magnesium is an ideal way to relax and ground yourself to detox daily stress and electromagnetic pollution and also your body temperature drops after coming out of the bath which will helpful
- Not take a sauna followed by cold immersion in an unheated pool or shower, two to three hours before bed – read the tip above
- Lack of melatonin – light and electrosmog affect melatonin production – these are the most important factors which need to be reduced
- Not wearing socks to bed – some people benefit from warm feet
- Alcohol – although it is a relaxant, too much is probably not good because your body will have to work hard to detox itself; “Drinking alcohol stops the breakdown of adrenalin. This is why you wake up around 2am after a drink.” says Dr Hare, sleep consultant
- Not drinking enough water during the day – “The part of the brain responsible for our circadian timer must be hydrated to work well,” says psychiatrist Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, so drink enough filtered water
- Working before bed so your mind is still buzzing – slow down and unwind before going to sleep
- Exercising too much bedtime or not exercising enough generally during the day – too much activity before going to sleep is too stimulating
- Watching TV right before bed, especially news, etc which can upset you or make you worried about life – do you want to worry about things before going to sleep
- Use of electronics, both during the day and in the evening – our bodies run on electricity and can accumulate electro-smog like any toxicity, minimise the use of electrical gadgets
- Foods you may be sensitive to – hopefully, you know which ones affect your sleep by now
- Having LEDs and fluorescent light bulbs in your home instead of traditional incandescent lightbulbs – avoid unnecessary lighting in your bedroom
- Not using blue-blocking glasses after sunset – most gadgets have dimming light sensors now but if you’re having problems with sleep, this tip is worth trying
- Not having blue-blocking software on your electronic screen devices – read above
- Your circadian clock out of sync – morning (sun) light is essential to sync your circadian clock so expose yourself to a lot of sunshine during the day
- Daytime naps – some people benefit from them but too much sleep during the day can push your circadian clock out of sync. Arianna Huffington built two nap rooms in the New York office which are always booked up. Coffee nap involves drinking coffee just before taking a nap for 20 minutes which is optimal time for a short sleep (after that you go into deep sleep) for the caffeine to kick in 20 minutes later. Sleep clears adenosine, a chemical responsible for tiredness from the brain so the effect of caffein will be even stronger when you wake up.
- Lack of relaxation – have a bath with Epsom salt or magnesium – bananas are packed with magnesium, which relaxes muscles and boosts melatonin – read the research below about the benefits of having a bath
- Not reading before bed, something spiritual or uplifting – this is a personal preference and if that works for you use it
- Not reflecting and journaling to reduce stress and anxiety – read above
- Worrying – use EFT (emotional freedom technique) or tapping to reduce stress and worry
- Too many drugs – some drugs will affect your sleep so consult your doctor
- Adrenals – these play an important role and can affect the quality of your sleep
- Menopausal or perimenopausal issues or hormonal changes – research online for solutions; “Research shows that after a poor night’s sleep, the effect of being more anxious the next day is much more pronounced in women than men.”
Dr Katharina Lederle, author of Sleep Sense: Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Health
- Getting out of bed – this will definitely disturb your sleep cycle so find out how you can avoid doing it
- Not using controlled, coherent breathing exercises to harmonise HRV (heart rate variability) – learn coherent breathing and use it for 5-20 before going to sleep or when you can’t sleep; get an iTHRVE app for your iPhone. There are other sleep hackers and apps that allow you to monitor your sleep.
- Snoring – lots of solutions on the market to remedy it, including taping your mouth and nasal gadgets
- Not using natural sleep aid such as valerian root – lots of traditional herbs to calm and relax before going to sleep but don’t drink those herbal teas to late
- Not drinking chamomile tea – classic herb for good sleep
- Sleep trackers – long and continuous use of sleep trackers that work on Bluetooth or wifi is not recommended because of unnecessary electro-smog BUT initially, it might be a good idea to check how much deep sleep you’re getting at night
Sleep scientists agree that deep sleep is THE most essential part of sleep cycle for rejuvenation, DNA repair, feeling rested and staying healthy!
Research on sleep
There is plenty of research on the importance of sleep. For example, researchers lead by Prof. Lior Appelbaum at Bar-Ilan University in Israel have discovered that deep sleep is essential for DNA repair and rejuvenation. The research shows, for the first time ever, that a single neuron (a human brain has about 86 billion neurones) needs sleep and clearing daily debris accumulated in their DNA and sleep disturbances affect brain performance, ageing and various brain disorders. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
“Research shows that after a poor night’s sleep, the effect of being more anxious the next day is much more pronounced in women than men.”
Dr Katharina Lederle, author of Sleep Sense: Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Health
Research has shown that a warm bath before going to bed helps with better sleep. The warm water helps to relax you and make you to loosen up your muscles, and it helps your body to raise its temperature. The drop in your body temperature after getting out of the bath, will trigger your pineal gland to begin the production of melatonin, which is the famous hormone for daily cycles of rest and activity.
Watch a short TED talk on the importance of sleep below