Sleep can be a tricky topic with some people having no trouble at all and others never seeming to be able to fall—or stay—asleep.
A big piece of the picture comes down to two hormones key hormones—cortisol and melatonin—that work together to regulate our sleep-wake cycle.
Different things work for different people. If you're not sure what kind of sleeper you are, take our quiz to find out!
Ultimately, if we want that blissful sleep, in the evenings we need to make an effort to reduce our dominant cortisol levels, and in doing so, allow our body to produce our sleepy time hormone, melatonin.
In this blog, Ben answers 6 common sleep questions and lets you know whether they are true... or false.
1. Eating before bed can reduce the quality of your sleep.
True! It's best not to eat within 2-3 hours of sleeping. So if you go to sleep at 10PM, aim to wrap up dinner by 7PM. This optimises your sleep quality as your body is not focused on digestion, and maximises the metabolic benefits of a natural overnight fast.
Finding you get too hungry before bed? Our BePure Chamomile Sleep Gummies Recipe is a great option to keep the hunger at bay without giving your digestive system a workout before you go to sleep.
2. If you miss out on a night or two of sleep you can catch up later.
False—essentially, once it's gone, it's gone! We have one chance each day for the incredible cellular rejuvenation and cognitive processing that happens while we're asleep. That's not to say your body won't try to catch up on REM sleep and recuperate, but the benefits of deep sleep for that day, will be gone.
Sleep is also tightly connected to our mental health and wellbeing. If you frequently miss out on sleep and struggling to regulate your mood, check out our blog to learn more about this connection.
For parents of newborns this can be a particularly tricky time of life for solid chucks of quality sleep. Our bodies are very resilient and since the beginning of humanity we have gone through periods of less sleep and been fine. It's always great to have a community around you at important times like these.
3. Alcohol helps you sleep.
False! Alcohol does not help with 'sleep'. Alcohol is a sedative, meaning it knocks you out of consciousness, but it's not nourishing sleep that you're experiencing.
When we take a peep under the hood, alcohol actually changes sleep architecture of the brainwaves and being unconscious looks very different from being in a state of sleep.
Drinking alcohol may help you fall out of wakefulness faster but in fact it actually disrupts the quality and quantity of the sleep you're getting.
4. Sleep supports body fat regulation.
True! Sleep does actually support the management and regulation of body fat.
Our circadian rhythm is the natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and it is very closely tied to the quality and length of our sleep.
Sleep sets our metabolic clock which influences how much energy we burn each day, as well as the function of our hormones ghrelin and leptin. These hormones control our feelings of hunger and sense of satiety throughout the day.
You may have noticed that when you are lacking in sleep you feel more hungry and less satisfied than on days when you wake up feeling refreshed and energised.
Want to learn more? Check out The Big Role Sleep Plays In Our Health And Metabolism.
5. Screen use before bed doesn't really affect sleep.
False! As far as sleep is concerned, that is not true. The blue light from screens stimulates certain neutrons in your eyes which tells your brain that it is daytime. This tells your body and hormone system to create cortisol—our daytime hormone and trumps melatonin—our sleepy time hormone.
You can see this hormone relationship in the graph below.
I recommend that if you're struggling to fall asleep you try to limit screen use a couple of hours prior to sleep. This will help your body in its natural wind-down process before bed and allow the production of your melatonin hormone.
6. Exercise supports better sleep.
True! Exercise can definitely help support sleep by tiring us out and nurturing a desire to go to bed.
During our wakeful hours our body produces a sleep-promoting substance called adenosine. This builds up in our brain over the course of the day and the more we have, the more tired we feel. Exercise and movement has been shown to increase adenosine levels and drive that desire to sleep.
However, you want to make sure that you're not doing rigorous exercise too late in the day as this can then have a stimulatory effect.
Still struggling to sleep? Herbs and nutrients can have a powerful effect on our evening wind-down process.