Sleep is the best anti-aging remedy money can’t buy. For some of us, it can be elusive. And like many things, you don’t appreciate a good night’s sleep until it’s gone. Or hard to attain. So, aside from sleeping pills, sleeping masks, weighted blankets, and a bit of meditating, what can help assure we get more Zzzzzs? Enter the infrared sauna. Literally, step inside for 20-30 minutes at night. Let the heat do its magic, and there’s a great chance you’ll sleep sounder with infrared therapy.
Why would something designed to relax and even detox you provide better sleep, you ask? We wondered the same. But first, we looked at what’s keeping us awake at night in the first place.
What’s The Last Thing You Drank?
A nightcap, a second glass of wine with dinner, or a midday jolt of caffeine to keep us powering through the day—whether we know it or not, each can be a sleep deterrent. The alcohol isn’t as obvious, since it seems to help us wind down and therefore should be followed by a better snooze. Caffeine is a little more obvious. But even if your last sip of coffee was midday, it can still keep you up into the wee hours of the night.
“The half-life of caffeine—i.e., the amount of time it takes for the body to process just half—is usually around five hours but can vary from one to as much as nine hours,” says Dr. Broderick, a neurologist and sleep specialist. This means if you drink a cup of coffee late afternoon or even after dinner, you may not get as much shuteye.
Alcohol, on the other hand, even though it’s a depressant, causes rebound alertness, affecting our REM sleep, leading to insomnia, or leaving you groggy when you do wake. Cut out alcohol in the evening, and you could improve your sleep.
What about a glass of warm milk? Drink milk before you go to bed, and this age-old remedy may actually help, assuming you’re not lactose-intolerant. Tryptophan, which is an amino acid, helps produce melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone in our bodies that signals sleep. So, milk might be a viable option to help you nod off.
However, maybe something else is keeping you up at night.
Step Away From The Devices
The electronic age has left many of us wanting that last scroll, chapter skim, or read-through of whatever it is we’re drawn to on our devices before our head hits the pillow. For some, it’s checking social media. For others, it’s a reading good book or answering your last few emails before the day ends. These are all common practices, however, the thing that’s deterring our sleep is the fact that it’s all happening on a screen.
According to the Sleep Foundation, “The blue light emitted by many devices disrupts the natural production of melatonin, a hormone that facilitates sleep and can throw off your circadian rhythm.” Blue light suppresses melatonin, so it makes sense that if you spend an hour or more before bedtime staring at a laptop, phone or tablet, your sleep will be disrupted. Additionally, the stimulating effect of a movie or email on your brain makes it harder to power down.
So, let’s say you stayed away from alcohol and caffeine, set aside your device hours ago, and snuggled in for a final wind down. What else might be distracting you?
Organize Your Thoughts
Have you ever stayed awake worrying about a presentation or test the next day, or replaying a conversation in your head from earlier? Or you finally climb between the sheets and there are swirls of tasks left undone. Now you’re stressing about where they’ll fit in during the week. Any of these can lead to hours of tossing and turning.
Often when it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, we really just need to be better at prioritizing. It could be as easy as establishing a bedtime routine. Or, write a to-do list and set it aside for when you wake up.
A study was published several years ago by the Sleep Research Society that showed that de-cluttering your bedroom space improves sleep. Something simple as putting laundry away can reduce sleep anxiety. Getting more organized in the bedroom in general can eliminate distractions and add a sense of ease to your surroundings.
Sounds like sweet dreams can be attainable, right? Let’s talk about the easiest task of all, an infrared therapy session.
Why Infrared As A Bedtime Routine?
Infrared saunas provide an amazing amount of health benefits after just a short, 30-minute session. Used over time, they can help your body recover from pain, injury, reduce migraines and muscle strains, and even strengthen the immune system. We’re still learning one area, which is why you’ll sleep sounder with infrared therapy.
Here’s what we understand so far—
Shortly after entering your infrared sauna, you’ll begin to sweat, and your body will naturally begin to release tension. The intense heat spurs chemical changes, increasing the production of endorphins. These help calm and relax our bodies. In addition, hormones like cortisol, which triggers a flight or fight response and can be produced as a result of any stress, will balance out as the infrared seeps into your core.
Any soreness, pain, or muscle tightness you are experiencing, even if you’re not aware of it, will gradually disperse as a result of the high heat and sweating that occurs during an infrared session. The sauna works much like a good jog or workout, increasing your heart rate, but also providing a release so that you can more easily cool off and wind down.
Speaking of cooling off, as you near bedtime, your body goes through a change in temperature. Your core temperature decreases before bed, signaling the production of melatonin. Once you leave the sauna, your body temperature will begin dropping and kickstart the sleep process. For that reason, it’s also helpful to reduce the temperature in your bedroom at night. This assists with the body’s naturally occurring thermoregulation that ensures a good night’s rest.
And Now You Know!
Spending time in an infrared sauna can be a wonderful way to help you beat insomnia, along with many other health problems. While it’s important to have a balanced lifestyle, there’s a reason why this centuries-old tradition has made a strong comeback. It’s one of the easiest, least invasive paths to well-being, without any side effects.
Contact Health Mate for more information on how to get started enjoying infrared therapy in the comfort of your own home.