Good Sleep for Good Health

Good Sleep for Good Health

You might not need a supplement to help you fall asleep. Paying attention to the factors that contribute to your restful (and sleepless) nights can allow you to learn more about you and your sleep. In this blog, a member of our team, Lee, shares her own experience!
For Christmas, I bought myself an Oura ring.
In case you don't know what that is, it's a smart ring that tracks a variety of health metrics. I'm big on using data to improve my health and fitness.
I can't wear the Apple Watch while sleeping because I find it annoying, so I lose out on that important sleep tracking functionality.
I prefer the Oura ring over the Apple Watch for sleep tracking because it's not as bulky!
I have learned a lot about my sleep cycles and what impacts them in the last few months using the Oura ring.
Here are some questions I had about sleep before I started tracking, and what I have learned about my body.
Every single body is different, so what works for me may not necessarily work for you. These are simply my own experiences.

What are the health benefits of getting enough sleep?

Sleep and rest have been a lot more important to me since Christmas. If I go to bed too early, I have difficulty falling asleep. As a working mother, I have so many tasks to complete when I get home that I don't have time to completely decompress from the day if I go to bed too early which leaves me tossing and turning in bed.
My bedtime sweet spot is around 23:00-23:30, and my Oura ring reinforces this. When I open the app, I receive prompts that tell me when I should go to bed. In the image below, you can see that I went to bed at 23:12 last night and my ring is telling me to go to bed a little earlier tonight (sometimes I pay attention to it and other times I just follow my mood).
Oura bedtime suggestions
Your bedtime should be consistent throughout the week. Humans thrive on routine. For example, if you have a late night over the weekend, you may find that your energy levels are low the next day.
As a fitness fanatic, I spent many years taking gym classes at 06:15 in the morning. Forcing myself to get out of bed to work out before the day starts. However, I find that working out first thing in the morning overstresses my body and makes me more susceptible to injury. Sleep is now my number one priority, and I try to fit my workout in later in the day. I feel much better for it.
The general health benefits of sleep are all over the internet, and I'm sure you've heard of most of them at some point. Among other factors, these three areas jumped out to me as reasons to prioritise my own sleep:
  • Sleep can improve productivity and focus (1)
  • An insufficient amount of sleep may cause inflammation (2)
  • Sleeping enough can help your heart stay healthy (3)
This article by a Senior Sleep Psychologist at Cromwell Hospital explains the benefits of sleep.

How do I improve my sleeping habits?

Earlier I mentioned that the human body enjoys routine. Staying consistent with your routine is the best way to improve your sleep.
I have personally taken these steps to improve my sleep quality.
  • At lunchtime, take a stroll.
    Our bodies have a natural clock that tells us when to get up and when it’s time to sleep. Your body needs as much sunlight as possible during the day in order for this to work effectively. A 20-minute walk at lunchtime has helped me sleep better and maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
  • Drink caffeine only in the morning.
    Caffeine affects people differently. When I drink coffee later in the day, it doesn't affect me too much, but I try to limit my intake of caffeine to the morning hours.
  • Keep a consistent schedule.
    For me, this was crucial. To keep my weekend sleep habits consistent with those of my weekdays, I try to keep my bedtime and wake-up time the same. It isn't always possible, but when it is, I try to stick to it.
  • During the evening, wind down.
    For me, this is also a key area and I need to work hard at it. I need to reduce my screen time before bed. Blue light filters on my phone and avoiding bright light are helpful, but I know I need to develop healthy sleep habits that will prioritise my sleep preparation more effectively.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
    When it comes to quality sleep, this is the NUMBER ONE factor for me. When I drink alcohol the day before, my sleep is definitely affected, and I can track this via the Oura app. My body temperature and heart rate rise. Whenever possible, I reduce alcohol consumption, especially in the evening. Take a look at how alcohol affects my sleep below.
    I was more restless and although my REM sleep was better, my deep sleep was really affected.
Lee's night of sleep after having alcohol
A night without alchohol

Why can't I fall asleep?

The answer to this question will definitely vary from person to person. Firstly, I would look at your routine to see if anything is out of whack. Is your bedtime routine out of sync? Do you drink alcohol or caffeine late at night? Do you follow our sleep tips above? You should then examine any other factors that may be affecting your ability to switch off at night. Do you feel stressed? Are you worried about anything? Try implementing a self-care bedtime routine for a few days to see if that helps. When you get to bed, consider journaling for 20 minutes to get anything that's on your mind off your chest. Perhaps that will help you relax.
Additionally, there are some lovely apps out there that can help you drift off to sleep. A couple that I like to use are Headspace and BrainFM. Headspace (4) features body scan meditations to check in with how you're feeling and to relax you before settling you into soothing background music and sounds. BrainFM (5) features a selection of music designed to alter your mental state and help you relax enough to sleep.
Getting some expert advice from your doctor or practitioner may help you if you are still struggling to fall and stay asleep.

Which supplements help with sleep?

You might not actually need a supplement to fall asleep. Take a look at your nighttime routine first. After you've tried a few things, there are some supplements designed to assist your body in getting ready for sleep.
Look for supplements containing melatonin (6), 5-HTP (7), valerian root (8) and magnesium (9) as these are all designed to help aid restful sleep. Here at Supplement Hub, we have an easy-to-use topical patch that contains all of these ingredients. For just £0.56 (€0.88) a day, you get all the nutrients your body needs to promote healthy sleep.
Check out the Sleep Starter patch
See our other Sleep Support products
Before taking any supplements, you should consult your doctor or sleep specialist.
I hope you found this useful. I'll keep you posted about my health tech adventures. Feel free to email us any questions you might have about sleep at thehub@supplementhub.com.

References

6. How does melatonin help you sleep? Melatonin is produced by your body just after it gets dark. It acts on receptors in your body to encourage sleep.
7. How does 5-HTP help you sleep? 5-HTP can help sleep by encouraging melatonin production in the body.
8. How does valerian root help you sleep? Valerian root can act on GABA receptors in your body to help you relax.
9. How does magnesium help you sleep? Magnesium acts on GABA receptors in your body helping you to relax. It also regulates melatonin levels in your body.

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