When light hits your skin, your brain and hormonal system think it is morning. The stress hormone cortisol is released, stimulating the body for movement. When the sun sets, your cortisol levels decrease and melatonin is released, increasing the levels of growth and repair hormones. So ideally we should start relaxing as the sun sets, but this not the case for most people. Many finish work late then exercise, which raises adrenaline.
Our bodies’ physical repair occurs between 10pm and 2am, after which psychogenic (mental) repair takes place until we wake up. So even if you get to bed by midnight and still get eight hours sleep, you would have missed two hours of physical repair, which in the long run sets you up for all sorts of issues such as injuries, colds and even chronic fatigue.
Tip 2 – Relax
Late-night exercise simulates adrenaline, which can prevent you from sleeping at a reasonable time. Electromagnetic pollution is another stimulant - TVs, laptops, mobile phones etc. The resultant cortisol increase take hours to clear from your blood stream. So reduce your exposure to bright lights for at least two hours before bed, turn off your laptop and TV, and try to unwind with candles, relaxing music, meditation or massage.
Tip 3 – Have a bedtime snack
Eating foods that calm your digestive system and are not heavy is a great way to keep stress hormones down while you sleep. Your body requires nutrients at night to help build and repair muscle tissue. Combine proteins and carbohydrates - when you eat or drink a balanced meal, it keeps blood-sugar levels stable.
Here are some ideas for balanced bedtime snacks:
- Three tablespoons of cottage cheese and half a cup of melon
- A cup of chicken broth soup and a glass of fresh orange juice
- An ounce of cheese and an apple
- A glass of fresh watermelon juice and 3oz of grass-fed steak
- A cup of organic milk, a tablespoon of coconut oil and a teaspoon of honey