Sleep 101, Part 3
5 ways to a sound sleep
Delta wave sleep is the ultimate key to achieving a better and deeper sleep. While all the other cycles of sleep are important, delta wave sleep (Stages 3 and 4) ensures proper healing and restoration of our bodies. To help you sleep soundly, add these 5 ways to delta wave sleep to your routine:
Be Cinderella Research supports our nagging mothers and fathers, who always told us one hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after.
We tend to have more delta wave sleep cycles in the earlier part of the night (11pm-3am) than in the latter hours. Getting to bed earlier truly improves restoration.
Banish the Blue I know you’ve heard this before – the blue light emitted from our electronic devices is bad for sleep.
The only blue light we are naturally exposed to comes from the sun, indicating,to our bodies that it’s daytime.
Blue light rearranges and damages delta wave sleep, resulting in reduced depth and quality of sleep.
Sock it to Stress Elevated cortisol, as well as increased sympathetic nervous system (SNS) tone (the body’s flight or fight responder) are correlated to disruption in delta wave formation. The best ways to reduce stress before bed: a nighttime routine, such as a bath, dim lighting, and deep breathing or meditation to calm the nervous system.
If a little extra help is needed, I often prescribe powdered Magnesium as an easy starting point. To fight higher stress, a combination of GABA, L-theanine, glycine, and a milk peptide known as, Lactium, can be helpful. These products have the ability to reduce cortisol, calm brain waves and/or bind receptors that calm the SNS.
Be Cool The body normally begins to cool down in preparation for sleep, but if it is too warm, it may think it is not quite bedtime, thus reducing delta wave cycles. Research indicates that the optimal temperature for sleeping is between 15.5-20°C (60-68°F). If you don’t like, or don’t have, fans or air conditioning, then you may want to invest in a product called ChiliPad. This device pumps cool water through a pad placed on top of your mattress, and below the top sheet.
Master Melatonin Melatonin is our natural sleep hormone, secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. Its secretion is inhibited by light and triggered by darkness, however, with excess light exposure, secretion is delayed by as much as three hours. Blue light avoidance is critical, but you also want a dark sleep environment.
If you can see your hand, 6″ (15cm) in front of your eyes in the bedroom at night, then it is too bright, and may be suppressing melatonin secretion.
Blackout curtains are high on my prescription list! If you still struggle after improving lifestyle factors, then prolonged-release melatonin supplements can increase the number of delta wave cycles experienced, if taken before bed. It is a major go-to in my clinic!
To make sure you get those 8-9 hours per night, head to bed earlier to drive delta wave sleep, and follow the tips in this series to master it. Here’s to a good night’s sleep!