The 24-hour internal body clock that regulates changes in the body to promote sleep or waking.
(Courtesy of: http://web.stanford.edu/group/hopes/cgi-bin/hopes_test/sleep-and-hd/#sleep-and-circadian-rhythm)
- Sleep wake cycle – Going to bed and waking at the same time allow your body to get into a regular cycle, meaning when it is time to go to bed, your body has already begun to prepare you for sleep.
- Bedtime routine – Prepare your body for sleep by doing relaxing activities and avoid things which may increase physical or psychological stress (listening to music, reading)
- Light– Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone, which promotes sleep. Melatonin is blocked during daylight hours and resumes as the light recedes. Make sure you get at least 30-60 mins light during the day (without sunglasses). Artificial (blue) light inhibits the production of melatonin. So turning off screens and low level lights before bed is ideal. If this isn’t possible,sleep goggles which remove blue light from these devices prior to bed can be an option.
- Physical activity throughout the day – Promotes restful sleep if done earlier in the day. Moderate intensity (walking) may be more beneficial then high intensity or weight training.
- Limit stimulants and alcohol – Coffee, energy drinks that stimulate the nervous system. Alcohol tends to make it easier to fall asleep but reduces sleep quality.
- Sleeping environment – Keep the your room cool, dark and quiet
- Limit heavy meals and excess water consumption at night – Heavy meals make us feel sleepy, however often we feel uncomfortably full or may have reflux. If possible avoid eating large meals 3 hours prior to bed and drinking 90 mins before bed.
- Manage stress – Cortisol is typically low during periods of sleep and elevated during stress. Elevated levels can cause an increase in light sleep and frequent waking.
- Write down to-do lists for the following day to avoid mulling over them during the night.
- Exercising throughout the day.
- Passos GS, Poyares D, Santana MG, D’Aurea CV, Youngstedt SD, Tufik S, de Mello MT. Effects of moderate aerobic exercise training on chronic primary insomnia. Sleep Med. 2011;12(10):1018-27.
- Buckley T, Schatzberg Z. On the interactions of the hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenal (HPA) axis and sleep: normal HPA axis activity and circadian rhythm, exemplary sleep disorders. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005; 90(5):3106-3114.