Sleep and Light

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How is your sleep? Are you tossing and turning or does your head hit the pillow for an eight hour snooze-fest?

 

You may have signed up for the 90 day sleep challenge. Hopefully this is helping you look objectively at the data you’ve collected about your own sleep patterns.   If you would like to join the crew and track your sleep, it’s not too late.  Email Shanna at shannaduvall@gmail.com and add your name to the list.

 

Light has a huge affect on our ability to achieve that eight or nine hour night of the dreamiest dreams.  Our ancestors for millions of years have been ruled by the rising and setting of the sun, so naturally, we have inherited that same circadian rhythm from them. Go get morning sunlight as soon as you can to help jumpstart you out of your sleep-fog.  The blue-light and high noon sunlight will suppress your melatonin during the daytime.  Also, watch a sunset if it’s available.  The red-light spectrum will help your body start churning melatonin to prepare for evening rest.

 

Take a look at your bedroom and analyze the amount of light that might affect you during your sleeping hours.  Do your shades completely block out that pesky street lamp outside your window? Does your alarm clock give off a bright green glow?  Are there appliances or outlets that have little light indicators beaming across the room?  It seems picky, but we would like to reiterate that quality sleep happens when there is absolutely no light in your bedroom.  T.S. Wiley, in her book Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival sounds dramatic when she exclaims, “[These lights] are killing you.”  So how can we achieve this cavern-like darkness in our own households?  First, start with the windows.  Bed, Bath and Beyond along with most other department stores have “black-out” curtains which are suitable for the job.  If you fancy sewing your own curtains, Foam & Fabric sells black out material to back your curtains with. Second, check for the appliance glow.  The one-millimeter-diameter light indicators have got to go. Your cell phone or iPhone is a fantastic alarm clock because it can go completely black after you set it.  Keep it a few feet from your bed. If you really dial in your sleep pattern and quality, you may be able to ween yourself off the annoying alarm clock ring and transition to waking up when your body is ready.

 

Computers, television and other LCD screens can tell your body that it’s daytime when it’s really not. They emit blue light which your body translates as daytime.  You may have noticed having trouble “unwinding” after a night computer session…this is why.   Avoid using these screens after dark.  It may be hard to detox from electronics at first but there will be a noticeable difference in your sleep that it will keep you addicted to the “no-electronics after dark” habit.  If you absolutely have to use your computer after dark, install the wonderful app F.lux and it will automatically turn down the blue-glow that is keeping you up at night.

 

In Mark Kesthely’s OPT blog post,  “Sleep: The Essential Nutrient,” he says, “There’s a lot of factors an athlete can control to optimize performance and recovery: nutrition, programming, supplementation.  All this can be dialed, but if high quality sleep is not there, almost none of the previous factors will even matter.”  When you improve sleep habits it will improve your athletic endeavors…but even more…you will wake up feeling refreshed and happy to tackle another day of work and play!

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