Do you find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open during the day because you’re so tired? Or do you lie awake at night staring at the ceiling wondering when you will finally fall asleep? Struggling with sleep is incredibly common and sleep issues are on the rise. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 Canadians don’t get enough sleep and almost 50% of Canadians don’t wake up feeling refreshed.1
Our understanding of sleep is still growing, as sleep is a very complex and somewhat mysterious process in our bodies. Scientists are continuing to learn more about it and how it impacts our brain and body both when we sleep and while we are awake.
What we do understand and can see a clear connection between is the relationship our stress hormone, cortisol, and our sleep hormone, melatonin, have to each other. These hormones work opposite of each other to promote alertness starting in the morning with cortisol, or to promote sleepiness in the evening with melatonin.2 The two, when working in perfect harmony regulate our sleep wake cycle, but in reality we often end up with higher amounts of our stress hormone, which throws off the balance of the two. The result is higher cortisol levels into the evening time, causing melatonin release to be delayed, and then delaying sleep.2
So, if you feel like you are always chasing after sleep, or it seems like you are never able to get enough or catch up on it, consider these tips to help your brain and your body get the rest it needs and to feel your best when you’re awake:
- Routine – Our bodies crave routine and run on an internal clock, known as our circadian rhythm, which controls our sleep-wake cycle.3 By keeping yourself in a regular routine, you allow your body to work its best. This includes waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, even on weekends and having a sleep routine each night (think wind down time, quiet, cool bedroom, dim lighting)
- Daylight versus blue light exposure – Getting natural daylight exposure every day, preferably in the morning, can help to send the correct signals to the brain for regulating our sleep wake cycle.4 We need the full spectrum of light during the daytime but in the evening, when we are exposed to too much bluelight from electronic devices, it keeps our brain too awake and can prevent us from falling asleep.5,6
- Physical activity – The benefits of exercise are vast, and when it comes to sleep it’s important for helping our bodies to feel tired at the end of the day AND as a way of helping to manage stress, which will also help to promote a good night’s rest.
- Nutrition – What we eat and when we eat can also impact our sleep! Eating too close to bedtime can cause digestive problems and disrupt our sleep.7 There are many foods that have sleep supporting benefits like protein and healthy complex carbohydrates which contain tryptophan and promote serotonin and melatonin production.8 Having these at dinner time or a few hours before bed as a small snack can help support your slumber.
- Supplementation – there are MANY supplements out there that can help support better sleep, but one of the main ones to consider is Melatonin. Since it’s an integral part of our sleep process and it can easily become out of balance this is the best place to start in terms of supplement support for sleep. Jamieson has many different formats and strengths (doses) of melatonin to choose from to meet your individual sleep needs. For mild sleep disturbances, try Jamieson’s sleep spray with a low 1 mg dose, but if you are having more chronic sleep issues consider working up to the higher dose of Jamieson’s maximum strength 10 mg melatonin.
- Stats Canada (2017). Accessed Sept 19, 2021 at: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2017009/article/54857-eng.htm
- Camila Hirotsu,Sergio Tufik, Monica Levy Andersen. Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions. Sleep Sci. 2015 Nov; 8(3): 143–152. doi: 10.1016/j.slsci.2015.09.002
- McKenna, H. T., Reiss, I. K., & Martin, D. S. (2017). The significance of circadian rhythms and dysrhythmias in critical illness. Journal of the Intensive Care Society, 18(2), 121–129. doi:10.1177/1751143717692603
- National Institute of Neurological disorders and stroke. Brain basics: Understanding sleep. Accessed August 30, 2021 at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep
- Grivas, T.B., Savvidou, O.D. Melatonin the "light of night" in human biology and adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Scoliosis2, 6 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-7161-2-6
- Harvard Health. Blue light has a dark side. Accessed Sept 19, 2021 at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
- Kinsey, A. W., & Ormsbee, M. J. (2015). The health impact of nighttime eating: old and new perspectives. Nutrients, 7(4), 2648–2662. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7042648
- Friedman M. (2018). Analysis, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Tryptophan. International journal of tryptophan research : IJTR, 11, 1178646918802282. https://doi.org/10.1177/1178646918802282