Thursday September 1 2022
Evidence shows that a quality sleep is essential for our health and overall wellness yet 1 in 5 people in the UK do not get enough quality sleep and this is caused by underlying issues such as anxiety, depression, financial worries and work-related issues (Mental Health UK, 1).
A quality sleep is even more important in our fast-paced lifestyle and increasing competition which has made matters worse. Despite the recommendation that we have 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, research continues to show this is not always happening. As as a result of chronic sleep deprivation, we are now facing serious health issues (2), such as a decrease in neurocognitive function, which will eventually lead to less productivity in our daily life. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to issues such as myocardial infarction (heart attacks as they are commonly known), hypertension, diabetes, weight issues and hormonal imbalances.
So, if you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, what can you do? Here are Prym Health’s tips to get a quality sleep.
Our body has its own natural clock, known as circadian rhythm. Our brain produces hormones and tells us when to stay awake and when is the time to sleep. Bright light during the day will help you keep your circadian rhythm healthy and effective. It will not only help you improve your daytime energy but also increase the duration of restful sleep during the night. A recent study (3) carried out on patients suffering from insomnia showed that bright light exposure during the daytime increased the quality and duration of sleep in about 83% of the participants. A similar study (4) conducted on adults also showed a 2 hour increase in sleep. However, natural night exposure is not always possible depending on where you live or due to your occupation. If this is the case, natural light exposure can be gained from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamps, also known as sun lamps. Seasonal affective disorder is recognised as a major depressive disorder associated with seasonal changes and to combat this, therapists often recommend SAD lamps to assist with this as they mimic natural daylight. You can read more about SAD lamps and where to find the best ones on Healthline (5).
Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, however it could be equally harmful at night for the circadian rhythm. Blue light, commonly emitted by electronic devices and energy efficient light bulbs, tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime and therefore reduces the production of the melatonin hormone responsible for relaxing you and helping to assist with a quality night sleep. Electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, and laptops emit blue light in a very large quantity, which negatively affects our sleep-wake cycle.
There are a number of different methods to help reduce blue light exposure at night time such as:
More than 80% of us consume caffeine because of the key benefit it brings us which is keeping us more awake and energetic during our day. However, consuming caffeine late in the day can stimulate your nervous system and will not allow the body to relax during the night. A study conducted on caffeine’s effect (6) shows that if consumed 6 hours before bed, it can still significantly reduce sleep quality. Since caffeine stays in the blood for up to 8 hours, it is recommended not to have coffee after 4 pm and people who are sensitive to caffeine should avoid drinking caffeine-containing drinks.
Eating or drinking late in the evening can have a negative impact on sleep quality and the release of melatonin hormone which helps us sleep. The quality of our evening nutrition also plays an important role in determining the quality of sleep. Studies show that consuming a high carb meal no later than 4 hours before bed can help in falling asleep faster (7). Taking heavy meals before bed can also cause sleep issues because of aggressive digestion being carried out in the body.
Drinking too many liquids before going to sleep can also be an issue as it can cause nocturia, a scientific term used to describe excessive urination occurring during the night. Getting up frequently throughout the night can disturb the sleep cycle leading to a poor quality of sleep therefore it is important to reduce the amount of fluid intake in the evening.
It is often the case that we have trouble sleeping due to stress, worries or anger over situations from our day which continue to replay in our mind. Taking steps to manage your overall stress levels and learning how to curb the worry habit can make it easier to unwind at night. Developing a relaxing bedtime ritual to help you prepare your mind for sleep can help. This can include practicing a relaxation technique such as meditation, taking a warm bath or dimming the lights and listening to soft and soothing music or your favourite audiobook.
Problems clearing your head at night can also stem from your daytime habits. The more overstimulated your brain becomes during the day, the harder it can be to slow down and unwind at night. Like many of us, maybe you face constant interruptions during your daily task leading to procrastination and then overstimulation of the mind at night when you run through the tasks you need to complete the next day.
Alcohol is a sedative so it is commonly believed that it can help you fall asleep quicker. However, studies have shown the opposite outcomes (8). Healthy individuals who don’t drink heavily may have better sleep after consuming alcohol, but regular drinkers will eventually suffer from sleep deprivation. This is because it can affect non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. There are three stages to this period:
If is vital we get good quality sleep as during the non-REM process, our body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle and strengthens the immune system. Drinking alcohol at night, especially in excessive quantities, can disrupt this process of quality sleep.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (9), or 5-HTP for short, is a commonly used supplement that can be used to improve sleep patterns and the amount of restful sleep at night. 5-HTP is a compound produced by the body with the amino acid tryptophan. 5 HTP is a precursor molecule of serotonin and melatonin, two important compounds that play a key role in maintaining stability and balance in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries signals between the brain and the nerve cells to regulate numerous functions in the body, including mood behaviour and attention span. It is also known as the happy hormone, and a stable amount is required to keep the body functioning optimally. Until 1995 the chemical was only available via prescription as per the guidelines issued by the government; however, now it is approved as an over the counter supplement and can be easily found at medical stores.
5-HTP is sourced from the seeds of Griffonia Simplicifolia, an African plant with a high quality of the required chemical. It can be extracted and used to make capsules or infused into gummies that can help with sleep.
Although we may be biased, we feel the best way to benefit from 5-HTP is through Prym Health’s 5-HTP Gummies (10) which along with 5-HTP, is also made with Vitamin B6, Zinc and Chamomile, all of which contain properties that assist with obtaining a quality sleep. It is recommended to have 150 to 800 mg of 5-HTP (11) every day for improved sleep span which is why the Prym Health gummies provide 500mg of 5-HTP per serving. It is enough to stimulate serotonin, but the dose may only be fully effective if taken regularly for more than 6 weeks. As always, the Prym Health gummies are made with nature flavourings, in this case mixed berries, and are fully halal and vegan.
As we have outlined above, there are several ways in which you can improve your sleep and keep your mind and body operating at the optimum levels. These steps include:
As always, here at Prym Health we bring you the highest quality CBD and nutritional supplements, including 5-HTP gummies for sleep which can be found here. For a limited time, we are offering readers 20% off this supplement with code SLEEP20. Be sure to leave us feedback on hair experience and like our Facebook page and Instagram page for more exclusive offers.