Not a creature was stirring, not even…well, ok, maybe a little tossing and turning.
Research shows that a restful night’s sleep (and the energetic day that usually follows) is largely dictated by circadian rhythms, our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Circadian rhythms are both governed and disrupted by light in our environment. When disruption occurs, it doesn’t just affect our sleep however; it has also been linked to a host of disorders and diseases, from depression to diabetes.
This holiday, consider one of these gifts to help the insomniacs on your list get their circadian rhythms back on track:
- Toss that iPhone alarm clock aside and start the day the natural way: with the sun. Or the next best thing: one of the many wake-up light alarm clocks on the market.
- Tryptophan helps the body produce the sleep regulating hormone melatonin. Try adding delicious, tryptophan-rich smoked salmon to your next Harry & David gift basket.
- You’ve likely heard about the over-stimulation caused by blue light on our phones and tablets. Maxboost’s anti-blue screen protector helps to filter out such circadian disrupting light.
- For a more fashion-forward alternative (that’s also useful with computer monitors), try blue light filtering glasses from Warby Parker.
- Experts will often tell you reading is a great way to settle down at night. Avoid blue-light heavy phones, tablets or e-readers and opt for a good old-fashioned book instead.
- Caffeine-free herbal teas, like these delicious blends from Tea Forté, can also help you unwind. Chamomile in particular has been anecdotally linked to melatonin production.
- Background noise can stir the light sleeper on your list. Lectrofan’s white noise machine produces a soothing bed of sound to obfuscate unwanted noise.
- Unfortunately, white noise machines can’t quiet the noise inside our own heads. But meditation can. For this, a subscription to the Headspace app is just what the sleep doctor ordered.
- See what’s really going on while you sleep with the Beddit sleep monitor, which tracks both body and environmental changes overnight.
Of course, well-aligned circadian rhythms don’t start and stop with these gifts. As is usually the case, most health professionals also suggest daily exercise and a healthy diet. So this holiday, consider skipping dessert and taking the family out for a post-meal walk instead. It might just be the best gift you give all year.