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    ICON Meals Blog — habbits

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    Sleeping 101

    Sleeping 101

    In today's society the physical and mental demands of our responsibilities don't leave enough hours in the day to get everything done. When we get overwhelmed with deadlines, errands, studies, and projects, proper sleep is unfortunately one of the first casualties.

     

    Sleep is a crucial part of keeping ourselves healthy. As much as we try to "burn the midnight oil" and grind out extra hours to get things done, neglecting proper rest puts our bodies, minds, and emotions in a state of imbalance. This affects more than muscle recovery or mental clarity — it can even distort our sleeping patterns, hunger, and hydration signals.

     

    What can we do to ensure we get proper rest when the world doesn't stop turning? Create a good wind-down or pre-bed routine that relaxes and de-stimulates our senses.

    Sleep Strategies

     

    1. Natural Light & Morning Activity

    Getting light exercise in the morning can help regulate your body's circadian rhythm and improve circulation. Getting outdoor activity promotes better oxygen intake and blood flow, positively impacting our health.

     

    2. Caffeine Cut-Off

    I love a strong brew or tasty energy drink to get the gears turning just as much as anyone else, but did you know caffeine can last in your system for up to 8 hours? This can easily cause sleep deprivation. Avoiding it after the morning hours ensures your body flushes it out long before you attempt to sleep.

    3. No Snacks Before Bed

    There's no question proper nutrition centered around unprocessed, whole foods helps your body get the nutrients it needs. Studies show opting for carbs before bed can improve sleep, but how do you expect your body to focus on rest when it's busy digesting food? Try to have your last meal at least 2 hours before you plan on sleeping to avoid digestion issues or sleep disruption.

    4. Turn Off Screens

    Blue light from screens suppresses our natural melatonin production, which can easily mess with our sleep. Certain devices and apps have implemented “night mode” to reduce blue light,  but it's still a good idea to minimize your screen time at least an hour before bed.

    5. Cool Dark Space

    Our body temperature needs to drop to get a good night’s sleep. A cooler room promotes deeper sleep, and for most people about 65 degrees is the sweet spot. Light coming through windows can prevent your brain from winding down, so keep your bedroom completely dark with blackout shades/curtains and eliminate all forms of light when trying to sleep.

    6. Meditation/Yoga

    Our minds are constantly thinking, focusing on tasks that need to be done in the future. This can keep us tossing and turning when we truly need rest. Relax physically and mentally with a stretching/yoga routine and a mental stillness practice like meditation. This ensures we transition to a state of rest. Alternatively, writing down tasks you need to complete the next day can potentially remove anxiety about them.

    Supplements

     

    Quick fixes are often our first instinct, rather than taking the healthier route — simple lifestyle changes. Even something as widely accepted as melatonin supplements can be detrimental. In very small doses (0.5mg) melatonin may be beneficial. However, people often take up to 10mg which seriously derails their natural melatonin production, especially when taken habitually.

     

    Taking drugs to counteract poor sleeping habits is like eating fast food every meal and taking a fat burner to lose weight.

     

    That being said, there is one supplement I highly recommend: “Lunar” by Legion Athletics. I’ve been taking it for years and it always helps give me a good night’s sleep. It helps me fall asleep faster, easier, and deeper. Lunar’s dosage has been formulated by scientific research and has minimal impact on natural sleep patterns. For me, taking it 3x a week maximizes its effectiveness while allowing my body to maintain its natural chemical balance.