Introduction


If you keep turning and tossing on your bed at night, you should change your lifestyle. A good sleep affects your creativity, mood, and vitality. Children depend on a good rest for growth development. The quality of sleep can be affected by the type of mattress you use, the height of the pillow, blue light, and the time you take your meal before sleeping.


Blue Light Interference


Blue light is visible on the broad light spectrum. This means that it is not visible to a naked eye. The blue light from the daylight aligns our internal body clock with the natural environment. Blue light can also be produced by LED bulbs, smartphones, and fluorescent light. These types of blue lights, can, however, affect the natural circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythm refers to the internal biological clock in the body. It regulates your sleep and awake time.


Exposure to the blue light can affect your ability to sleep. Research has shown that an average adult in America spends about ten hours a day in front of a screen. The blue light emitted by the screen can be disruptive to your body. Prolonged exposure to screen light has been proven to cause headaches and eye strain.

Sleep disruption occurs when you are exposed to blue light beyond your regular daylight hours. Extended exposure to blue light can affect your sleep. The brain contains the pineal gland that secretes the melatonin hormone. Melatonin helps in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. This hormone increases a few hours before you sleep. The exposure to the blue light delays the secretion of melatonin hormone, which ultimately shifts the natural ability to sleep.


One possible solution that can be used to reduce the effect of blue light is the use of blocking glasses. Blocking glasses are commonly referred to as blue blockers. These special glasses aid in the reduction of the amount of blue light that we absorb from screens and phones.

The blue blockers originated from a NASA program in 1986. They were used to protect astronauts from the intense UV rays. They were later redesigned by a local sunglasses manufacturer to be used in preventing blue rays. Blue blockers are now being marketed globally, and they are retailing from 20 dollars a pair. These glasses would be appropriate for those that use computer screens during the evening hours.


It is essential to keep screens and other devices away from your face during the night. Burying your face in your phone can be harmful to your eyes and sleep. Although you may find it relaxing to watch your favorite program at night, it is essential that you set a cut-off time. The closer you approach your bedtime, the less interactive you should be with your phone should. Research has shown that social media platforms are the most interactive forms of media that interrupt your sleep.


The use of carotenoid supplements can reduce the strength of blue light. These supplements help in strengthening the natural ability of the eye. The eye has the retinal pigment epithelium, which shields the blue light. The epithelial layer contains carotenoids that can be absorbed from the diet. Carotenoids such as zeaxanthin and lutein are available in the form of supplements. These supplements protect you from harmful effects of the blue light.


Various phone applications can be used to reduce the intensity of blue light. These apps and software filter the blue light. Most tablets and smartphones have these apps in their operating systems. These apps can be programmed to ensure that the phone emits warmers wavelength in the evening. These apps are also available in computers where they can reduce the blue light and reduce brightness.


The use of specialty, targeted light bulbs can help prevent and manage blue light exposure. Energy-efficient bulbs are now manufactured with circadian biology. These bulbs are now made to minimize the adverse effects of blue light at night. You can improve your circadian rhythm by ensuring that you have adequate light exposure during the day.


Correct Pillow and Mattress Support


A good pillow can improve your night sleep. It helps in supporting the neck and the skull without applying a lot of pressure. This is because it conforms to the natural body shape, thus spreading the body weight uniformly and evenly along the vertebrae.
Sleeping on a bad pillow can not only disrupt your sleep but can also cause frustrations. Bad pillows can also affect the shoulder. The shoulders of the sleeper should not be at 90 degrees to the mattress. This posture can cause spasms in the trapezius muscles. These muscles perform various actions in the body. They act as a platform for the elevation of the skull. You should ensure that these muscles are relaxed when you are sleeping.
A pillow should always maintain a height of 4 inches. This height can adequately support your neck and head when you are lying on the back. Your neck can curve forward to support the weight of your head when you are lying upright. It is essential to maintain this when you are sleeping or resting.


Your neck tends to bend forward when the height of your pillow is placed too high above your head. This can strain the shoulders, back, and neck muscles. This resting position can also narrow your air pipe, thus obstructing your breathing. This can disrupt your sleep. The neck and back muscles can also strain if the pillow height is too low.


The softness or firmness of the mattress can also affect your sleep. The mattress should always conform to your body shape and movement. This is to ensure that your spine is supported correctly. A firm mattress does not provide enough elasticity to the back muscles. Firm mattresses only support the pelvis and shoulder areas. This action causes the spine to bend, resulting in an S-shaped curve.


When the mattress is too soft, the body tends to curve according to the sagged mattress. This causes the hammock effect. The hammock effect refers to an abnormal curve of the spine. A soft mattress can contour the body, thus reducing the freedom of movement. In such a case, you will need to use your muscles to stabilize the body. This is very uncomfortable and can disrupt your sleep.


The softness and firmness of the mattress are depended on your preference. What is soft to one person may be firm to another person. You should ensure that your mattress supports your spine sufficiently. If you have a bad back, you will require a mattress that gives you both comfort and support when you are sleeping.


Back and Neck Stretches to do Before Bed


Yoga is vital to your sleep. It reduces stress and improves breathing, thus promoting good sleep. Yoga is a holistic method that can help you fight insomnia and poor sleeping patterns. Research has shown that practicing yoga for about 20 minutes before bedtime can improve your sleep.


Yoga brings a sense of calmness to your body. Moving your body while holding your breath is an excellent way to calm your mind and body. Yoga empties the mind, thus relieving stress and anxiety. Most people have difficulties sleeping because they are thinking of something. This could be relationships, finances, or work-related problems or plans. Practicing yoga before bedtime can ease the mind-chatter.


Stretching before you go to bed can be a fantastic way of easing joint and muscle pains. Most people that work from a desk the whole day may experience night aches. These aches may make it hard for you to have a good sleep. Doing yoga before going to bed releases tension, thus helping you to sleep better.


Research has proven that practicing yoga techniques improves breathing. Incorrect breathing can result in sleep apnea and snoring. Snoring is often triggered by obesity, sinus problems, and stress. Sleep apnea occurs when you are nervous or tensed. Yoga can help in preventing these problems, resulting in a good rest.


The commonly used yoga poses include;


Balasana (Child’s Pose)


This pose can be done on a bed. It involves stretching the thighs, ankles, and hips. To do this, you need to place a pillow beneath your head to relieve back and neck pain. If you have a bad back, you should put the pillow under the torso. Those suffering from high blood pressure should not engage in this exercise.


The Reclining Goddes Pose


This activity calms your nervous system, thus improving the blood circulation. Research has shown that this activity relieves depression and stress that causes sleep deprivation. This activity is done by placing a soft pillow under your head or spine. Those suffering from groin injuries should not do this pose. If they do, they should support the knees with a bolster.

Savasana (Corpse Pose)


This pose helps rejuvenate the body and the mind. It achieves this by releasing tensions and anxiety that the body may be having. This pose relieves stress and promotes the inner awareness of the body. Doing this activity before going to bed decreases the metabolic rate and blood pressure. This pose is effective when you release your body parts gradually. Practicing this posture can help you sleep better.


Avoid Eating Three Hours Before Sleep

Research shows that eating three hours before bedtime can disrupt your sleep. Psychologically, sleep is characterized by the change in levels of unresponsiveness to the environment. Sleep is also divided into non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). REM consists of 25 percent of sleeping time. NREM constitutes 75 percent of the sleeping time. REM is also associated with learning, memory consolidation, and dreaming.


The body’s sleep or wake system is regulated by processes that promote sleep (process S) and processes that maintain wakefulness (Process C). These two processes predict the duration and timing of sleep. Process S maintains sustainable wakefulness before bedtimes as the urge to sleep builds. This process also inhibits neuronal communications. This, in turn, decreases arousal mechanisms that occur during sleep. Process C promotes physical activity alertness and hormone secretion.

The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) produces a circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm acts as a biological clock. The biological clock is regulated by the production of melatonin. The SCN controls the secretion of melatonin. Any altercations of SCN may result in irregularities in the circadian. This will ultimately affect your sleep-wake cycle.


One of the roles of the stomach is the acidification of the ingested food. Acid secretion in the stomach denatures proteins, and control the digestion process. Acid secretion varies from night to night. The control of the digestion process helps in the optimization of nutrients. The acid secretion influences the circadian rhythm. Researchers have found that REM sleep is associated with the secretion of acids. Eating three hours before sleep increases the acid levels, which ultimately reduces REM sleep.


Melatonin and Sleep


The brain secretes the melatonin hormone. Melatonin hormone controls the sleep-wake cycle. This process is controlled by the environment and the amount of light that you receive. The level of melatonin rises during the night and drops at dawn. Melatonin helps you to wake up. During winter, there is a limited production of melatonin. The production also reduces with aging.


Melatonin supplements signal the body when to wake up, and when to sleep. The supplements can be purchased over the counter. They are mostly in synthetic or natural form. The label should show the kind of supplement you are buying. If you are not sure about the type of melatonin you have purchased, you should consult your doctor before taking it.


Melatonin supplements are regulated the same way as other supplements such as vitamins. However, melatonin supplements do not have the same standards as prescription drugs. This means that there is no guarantee on how well these supplements will work on your body. There is also no guarantee that the ingredients match what is on the label.
The use of melatonin supplements is associated with various side effects. The common side effects of melatonin supplements include mild anxiety, tremor, abdominal cramps, drowsiness, nausea, headache, and dizziness. You should not drive or operate any machinery hours after you have taken the supplement. Melatonin can also cause disorientation and reduced alertness.


You do not require large amounts of melatonin supplements for you to realize their benefits. Taking large quantities of these supplements does not make it work faster or better. You should take smaller doses of these supplements. If you are working at night, you should take it at the end of the workday. You should never take it before you drive back home.


Studies have shown that melatonin supplements can help relieve chronic insomnia. Insomnia refers to a condition where a person experiences difficulty staying asleep. Chronic insomnia occurs when these symptoms last longer.

Research has shown that melatonin can be used to relieve the side effects of cancer treatment. Note that these supplements should not be used as a replacement for cancer treatment. Besides, some supplements can interfere with cancer treatment. Before you use any complementary approach to your health, you should first consult with your doctor.
Melatonin is controlled by light. You should not disrupt the effect of these supplements by exposing yourself to artificial light. You should keep off from bright light since the light can signal the brain that it is time to wake up. As a dietary supplement, those taking medications should consult a doctor before using these supplements. If you have epilepsy, ensure that you are under medical supervision when consuming melatonin supplements.


The use of melatonin supplements is safer for children for only a short period. Studies have shown that the use of these supplements can affect hormonal development in children. It has been found to affect the menstrual cycle, overproduction of prolactin hormone, and puberty. The side effects of these supplements in children include headache, drowsiness, and agitation.


The use of melatonin is not recommendable for breastfeeding and pregnant women. If you are breastfeeding, you should consult your doctor before taking these supplements. Older people should be discouraged from taking melatonin. This is because melatonin remains active for long in older people as compared to young people. Melatonin can also cause drowsiness during the day in older people.

Summary


Sleep deprivation can have adverse effects on your health. Sleepless nights can make your brain fog, leading to loss of concentration. You may also risk causing an accident if you are operating machinery. For good sleep, ensure that that you avoid using your phone at night, have a comfortable mattress, and consider the use of melatonin supplements (consult your doctor first).

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