It has been shown that 26% of all adults use the internet most or every night of the week just before bed and 16% of all working adults do work just before bed. Both groups report frequent sleep difficulties or daytime sleep-related symptoms.
Light is one of our strongest zeitgebers, and the cycle of natural light can help regulate our circadian rhythm. Whereas blue light, produced by electronic light sources, particularly at night time, inhibits the production of melatonin (sleep regulating hormone).
• Screen time: Avoid screens for at least 1 hour before bed (television, laptops, computers, tablets, smart phones).
• Light pollution from electronic lights: Use eye masks and/or black out curtains while sleeping.
• Sun exposure: Spend at least 30 minutes outside with sunlight on the skin, without getting sunburnt, at the following times: sunrise, between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm, and twilight.
Night lighting via lamps that emit yellow, orange or red hues are best to help the circadian rhythm. Pink himalayan salt lamps or colour change globes for regular lamps can be used as aids.
Many people spread out their calorie intake over the course of 15 hours which can disrupt the natural circadian rhythm within the body.
• Try to limit food intake between a 6 to 11 hour window, ideally after sunrise and before sunset.
RECOMMENDED SLEEP LENGTH.
- Newborns 14-17
- Infants 12-15
- Toddlers 11-14
- Pre-schoolers 10-13
- School-aged children 9-11
- Teenagers 8-10
- Young adults and adults 7-9
- Older adults 7-8
To help block out noise pollution, try using ear plugs during sleep. And eye masks for light. Ensure room is cool and dark. Ideal temperature is between 16°C to 22°C.
Avoid caffeine after midday (black and green tea, coffee, energy drinks) Caffeine can take up to 12 hours to metabolise, and spikes cortisol (the stress hormone).
*A zeitgeber is a rhythmically occurring natural phenomenon which acts as a cue in the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythms. Black out curtains are particularly important for patients who work night shift. 6-8 hours may be more appropriate for those with overt metabolic syndrome/dysfunction, whereas 8-11 hours would suit most other patients.