We at Kelowna Dental Solutions love sleep!
Healthy sleep habits are the cornerstone of optimal well-being. Getting a proper sleep can ensure that your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) are functioning efficiently. Sleeping well can also ensure that your endocrine (hormonal system) and digestive system are functioning ideally! “Sleep Hygiene” refers to the habits that we incorporate into our lives to help us get the best sleep possible on an ongoing basis.
Some components of good sleep hygiene include:
1. Having a consistent bed time, sleep location and wakeup time
2. Ensuring that your room is dark, quiet, relaxing and a cool, comfortable temperature
3. Clearing away electronic devices such as phones, laptops and TVs from your sleep area
4. Exercising regularly: ensuring that you get your heart rate up during the day can actually help you feel more rested at night
5. Avoiding large meals before bed, as well as limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption before bedtime (CDC, 2016)
Your body’s different systems follow circadian rhythms, which are 24-hour cycles cuing the body to carry out specific functions at certain times of the day. Circadian rhythms exist in all living things. Have you ever wondered why flowers open during the day? Or, how do nocturnal animals know to come out at night? Circadian rhythm allows all body functions to become efficient and optimized at certain points of the day. One of our most essential functions within this circadian rhythm cycle is our sleep-wake cycle. There are certain functions that our body must carry out every day in order to survive. Producing hormones, digesting food efficiently and storing energy are all things that must be planned for and our bodies set aside time for these things to take place every day (Suni, E, 2007). If you are not getting a consistent, restful sleep for an adequate length of time. you could be disrupting this essential function.
Many studies have been done on the effect of blue light on sleep patterns. Blue light has been specifically targeted because it is predominantly emitted by electronic screens. There have been apps attempting to counteract this or settings on your devices that claim to dial this down, but more recent studies have revealed that no matter what light is being emitted from your electronic devices, light of any hue will interfere with your circadian rhythm, as it can be a melatonin suppressant (Brennan et al, 2007). Simply put, anything bright has the potential to confuse your brain that it is daytime when it is not and you can have a difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep. Natural melatonin release is triggered by darkness. A recent study done in Manchester, U.K. found that the brightness of our nighttime lights matters more than the colour or hue (Mouland et al, 2019). Melatonin is the hormone that helps us sleep more deeply and restfully and it can become suppressed by any light that the brain perceives as bright. Putting your screen away before bed and ensuring that light is limited during restful hours can improve overall sleep hygiene and set you up for success!