1 – Get yourself some blue light blocking glasses
- Exposure to artificial light at the wrong times of day is one of the largest often-overlooked health risks of living in the 21st century
- Blocking blue light serves an important biological purpose, helping to regulate your internal clock to control sleep patterns and other body functions; avoiding blue light at night is crucial to protecting your health
- One of the least expensive and simplest ways to protect your body’s internal rhythm, and thereby support healthy sleep and a lowered risk of many chronic diseases, is to wear blue-light-blocking glasses at night
2 – Don’t use your computer, phone or iPad close after dark. If you have to use them install software that helps block out Blue Light (also known as Junk Light)
- On PC or Mac install F.Lux.
- On Android you can also use F.Lux.
- iPhone and iPad turn on Night Shift.
f.lux is a software program that puts a warm filter across your computer screen in the evening to reduce the unnatural blue hue that can affect your sleep cycle. It’s been around for years, and I’ve had it installed on all of my Mac computers for as long as I can remember.
Apple launched Night Shift for Mac with macOS 10.12.4, which also puts a warm filter across your screen in the evening to reduce the unnatural blue hue that can affect your sleep cycle. It automatically appears in Notification Center on your Mac when you update.
3 – No Caffeine in the afternoon
You hear it all the time, when it comes to sleep: Don’t drink caffeine too late in the day. It’s among the most common sleep tips—and it’s a good one. Caffeine, with its stimulant effects, is disruptive to good sleep. And these days, with the popularity of energy drinks and other caffeine-laden beverages and snacks, it’s not difficult to wind up consuming caffeine throughout the day, even if you’ve set your coffee cup aside. The negative health consequences of too much caffeine also extend beyond sleep problems.
4 – Be strategic about your lighting sources to get a good night’s sleep
Bright light (think: a sunny summer day) not only boosts your mood, it also makes you feel energized, awake, and alert. That’s great news during the daytime. But come sundown, exposure to artificial light that mimics natural light can be detrimental to your sleep by suppressing melatonin, your body’s slumber hormone. Since you’re probably not about to hit the sack as soon as the sun goes down, the next best thing is to be smart about choosing light bulbs for your home.
These are the most commonly-used light bulbs (think soft white, traditional-looking bulbs), and are generally inexpensive. They give off a diffuse, warm light, and typically last up to 1000 hours. They are not particularly energy efficient, unfortunately, but after red bulbs (more on them, below), these are the second best types of bulbs to use in your bedroom.
Similar to incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs give off the whitest light—they’re the closest you’ll get to daylight (which is why you may want to avoid using them after dusk). They also burn hot, and if you touch them and some of the oil on your skin rubs off on their surface, they can actually burst.
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFBs)
These spiral-shaped bulbs have been big news in recent years thanks to their energy efficiency; they last about ten times as long as incandescent bulbs. However, they emit significant amounts of blue light, which interferes with sleep, so you should keep them out of your bedroom and other areas where you spend time in the evening. If that’s not possible, turn off CFBs about two hours before bed, or keep lamps that contain them a minimum of five feet away from you, as blue light drops off at that distance.
Light-Emitting Diode Bulbs (LEDs)
Typically small and dome-shaped (or clustered like dots into a larger bulb), LEDs use about 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs. However, their light is often one-directional, so they’re not great for use all around the house—you generally find them in task lighting. LEDs also produce significantly more blue light than traditional bulbs.
Interestingly, red wavelengths of light are most conducive to sleep. Try installing red (or even pink) bulbs in your bedroom, or use a red Christmas-tree bulb in any nightlights or reading lamps you use before bed.
5 – Try adding some supplements to your night time routine
- VALERIAN –Most experts recommended this herb to reduce the amount of time it takes to nod off. According to the NIH, no single compound in valerian has been identified as the active agent. However, the NIH reports that valerian seems to have sedative properties, and it may increase the amount of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a compound in the brain that prevents the transmission of nerve impulses. Valerian seems to be especially effective when combined with hops, according to a 2007 study.
- 5-HTP – A compound derived from the amino acid L-tryptophan, the supplement also is used to enhance mood and decrease appetite. Laurie Steelsmith, a licensed naturopathic physician, does not recommended 5-HTP for those on antidepressant medications. Steelsmith says that 5-HTP acts as a precursor to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that is essential for a good night’s sleep. “It is better than L-tryptophan because 5-HTP can cross the blood-brain barrier and thus increase serotonin in the brain.” A small 2009 study of 18 people found that those who took a product combining 5-HTP and GABA needed less time to fall asleep, slept longer and reported improved sleep quality.
- MAGNESIUM – Along with contributing to a good night’s sleep, this light, silvery metallic element is an oft-overlooked nutrient that helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, and promotes normal blood pressure, according to the NIH. Lack of magnesium inhibits nerve cell communication, which leads to cell excitability. The result: a stressed and nervous person. Several older studies show that magnesium can improve sleep quality and reduce nocturnal awakenings.
- THEANINE – An amino acid derivative found in green tea, theanine has long been known to trigger the release in the brain of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. GABA activates the major calming neurotransmitters, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, but the body has difficulty absorbing supplements containing synthesized GABA. That’s why experts recommend theanine, which the body can easily absorb and, ultimately, use to boost levels of GABA.