Restorative Sleep: Parts 4/5

Julian Morales

How to get Restorative sleep


With stress running high in 2020, the importance of restful sleep is imperative for staying healthy. But just because you slept for 8 hours, doesn't mean it was restorative. In a somewhat personal experiment, I have put what I have learned into 5 different categories that I will break down in a 5-part-series. I used a sleep tracker called the Poar Vantage M to show us the results. Turns out, the amount of deep sleep and REM sleep greatly increased when we did these 5 tips. I will be combining Part 4/5 together today. 


4. Go outside when the sun is out!


Soaking up a few minutes of vitamin D when the sun comes out in the morning has tremendous benefits in setting your circadian rhythm. When you have a strong circadian rhythm, serotonin (the calming neurotransmitter) is more easily stimulated which provides for a deeper, more restful sleep


Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. At night, darker lighting triggers the brain to make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping you sleep.

Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip. Low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of major depression with seasonal pattern (formerly known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD). This is a form of depression triggered by the changing seasons.


5. Exercise it works!


Of course we are big advocates of moving your body, and science backs it. Expending more energy during the day makes it easier to fall and stay asleep at night. If you haven't been sleeping good, it's time to crank up the effort level at practice. 


Just a single 30-minute exercise session can reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep, and help you sleep longer overall. But these effects are stronger when you undertake a regular exercise program. Studies have shown that long-term exercise (ranging from periods of four to 24 weeks) enables individuals with insomnia to fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and enjoy better sleep quality than they did before exercising.


Moderate aerobic exercise can help relieve other symptoms associated with insomnia, too. For individuals with comorbid insomnia and anxiety, it can significantly lower pre-sleep anxiety, reducing the anxious thoughts that make it tough to fall asleep.  After a period of four to six months, a regular moderate aerobic exercise routine can also reduce depression symptoms and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Overall sleep quality improves, and you’re more likely to feel well-rested upon waking up. Best of all, the participants in these studies enjoyed the same results regardless of whether they exercised in the morning or late afternoon.