5 ways to improve your sleep


Keeping good sleep hygiene and having healthy practices around your sleep routine, enables you to stay well-rested and healthy. Some common techniques for good sleep include keeping a quiet and calm bedroom, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise1. But that’s not all you can do.


Here are five sleep hygiene tips to get better rest and wake up ready to seize the day.


1. Switch off devices early and keep them out of sight

We all spend a lot of time looking at screens, from work on computers, to Netflix binges, and scrolling social media on our phone. This reliance on technology in modern day life can have a negative impact on your posture and spinal health – it can also stand in the way of a good night’s sleep!


All those screens emit blue light, which has been shown to keep you awake by stimulating your brain2. In one study of adolescents, using electronic devices with blue light during the day and at bedtime both caused an increased risk of short sleep duration, trouble getting to sleep and sleep deficiency3.


What to do: Make sure that you’re shutting off your phone and other electronics at least an hour before you settle down to sleep, and that they stay turned off (ideally in another room) throughout the night.


2. Cut off caffeine before bedtime (and through the day!)

You might think that coffee (or your other favourite caffeine sources) make you more alert and enhance your performance. But studies have shown that regular daily caffeine intake is associated with disturbed sleep and sleepiness during the day. This research also suggests that caffeine doesn’t make you more alert – it just makes up for the sluggishness it can cause by disturbing your sleep!4


What to do: If you have a regular caffeine habit, your body may be suffering a withdrawal during the night. Limit your caffeine intake, especially right before bedtime, to limit the effect of this overnight caffeine fast.


3. Create a consistent sleep schedule

Being well rested is not just about getting the right number of hours each night – it’s also about making sure you’re falling asleep and waking up at regular times every day.1 In a study of the elderly, maintaining a regular daily routine generally led to falling asleep quicker and sleeping better5 and a study of adolescents showed that irregular sleep schedules lead to more behavioural and emotional problems6.


What to do: Create a schedule that includes a time to go to sleep and to wake up. You may choose to set alarms or build a routine to help you wind down at night or get up in the morning.


4. Consider tapping into the benefits of magnesium

Magnesium is crucial in supporting your body’s energy production, muscle function, nerve function — and your sleep. A moderate magnesium deficiency can lead to numerous conditions with an element of chronic inflammatory stress and it’s more common than you might think7.

Getting enough magnesium through your diet or supplements has been shown to cause statistically significant improvements in both subjective measures of good sleep (such as sleep time, sleep efficiency and early morning waking) and objective measures (including levels of melatonin, serum renin and serum cortisol)8.


What to do: If you suspect you may be lacking magnesium in your diet or you’re struggling with disturbed sleep, get in touch with a healthcare provider, such as your chiropractor or a nutritionist, to see if supplements could be right for you.


5. Prepare your body for rest and relaxation

When you’re awake, your sympathetic nervous system is in charge, keeping your body ready and active. On the other hand, as you’re settling down to sleep, your parasympathetic system takes over, reducing activity in your organ systems and focusing your body on rest and rejuvenation.


This parasympathetic response is the state you need to be in to reach the deepest phase of sleep, REM sleep9. Research suggests that adjustments to the cervical vertebrae through chiropractic care may stimulate a parasympathetic response10, which can help you achieve deep, restful sleep.


What to do: Book in to see your chiropractor and discuss how manual adjustments may be able to help you get better sleep. Adjustments to different areas of the body may have different effects, so be sure to see a professional for their opinion.


Looking for more ways to sleep better? One major thing that can affect your sleep is if you are in pain or uncomfortable when you go to bed. This can not only mean your rest is disturbed, but it can also exacerbate existing pain.


There are plenty of steps you can take both at home and with the help of your chiropractor to support and protect your spinal alignment at night. Get started by checking in with your chiropractor for a pillow check today.


Sources

1 M.J. Sateia, D.J. Buysse, A.D. Krystal, D.N. Neubauer, J.L. Heald., Clinical practice guideline for the pharmacologic treatment of chronic insomnia in adults: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine clinical practice guideline, J Clin Sleep Med, 2017

2 JY Heo, K Kim, M Fava, D Mischoulon, G.I. Papakostas, MJ Kim, D Jun Kim, KA.J. Chang, Y Oh, BH Yu, HJ Jeon., Effects of smartphone use with and without blue light at night in healthy adults: A randomized, double-blind, cross-over, placebo-controlled comparison, Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2017

3 M Hysing, S Pallesen, K.M. Stormark, etal., Sleep and use of electronic devices in adolescence: results from a large population-based study, BMJOpen, 2015

4 T Roehrs, T Roth, Caffeine: Sleep and daytime sleepiness, Sleep Medicine Reviews, 2008

5 A Zisberg, N Gur-Yaish, T Shochat, Contribution of Routine to Sleep Quality in Community Elderly, Sleep, 2010

6 S Bauducco, I Flink, M Jansson-Fröjmark, & S Linton., Sleep duration and patterns in adolescents : Correlates and the role of daily stressors, Sleep Health, 2016

7 F.H. Nielsen, L.K. Johnson, H Zeng., Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep, Magnesium Research, 2010

8 B Abbasi, M Kimiagar, K Sadeghniiat, M Shirazi, M Hedayati, B Rashidkhani., The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 2012

9 C.D. Harris., Neurophysiology of sleep and wakefulness, Respiratory Care Clinics of North America, 2005

10 A Welch, R Boone., Sympathetic and parasympathetic responses to specific diversified adjustments to chiropractic vertebral subluxations of the cervical and thoracic spine, Journal of chiropractic medicine, 2008