Going to bed stressed will make it near in possible for you to sleep, because the body is in a state of ‘fight or flight’.
This fight or flight mode sends a signal to your brain that it’s actually not safe for you to sleep. Quite simply, you need to stay awake to fight off any predators – real or imagined!
When this happens the body produces cortisol, a hormone that works in opposition to melatonin – a hormone that helps to regulate sleep.
In other words, high cortisol = low melatonin = a delay to sleep onset.
Not ideal if you’re a shift worker – especially on those tight turnaround shifts when sleep is at a premium!
It’s why implementing strategies to help you to relax prior to getting into bed, is absolutely key in helping you to fall asleep.
Thanks to our erratic shift schedules and overwhelming levels of fatigue, shift workers inadvertently spend less time in the outdoors.
However it’s not just those of us working 24/7 who are locking ourselves inside or soaking ourselves in sunscreens each time we venture outside in the sun, because there’s actually a world wide epidemic of vitamin D deficiency.
And whilst we may call it a vitamin per se, it’s actually not a vitamin. It’s a steroid hormone, meaning it’s a steroid that acts as a hormone.
This one little hormone has loads of responsibilities including helping to coordinate our metabolism, our digestive and cardio-vascular systems, along with our immune, endocrine, and reproductive systems.
But what about our sleep?
Well considering there are lots of vitamin D receptor sites found in the brain and brainstem (proteins found on the surface of a cell which “listen’ to incoming messages) which are linked to light cues on the retina in the eye helping to trigger the production of melatonin influencingour sleep, one can make the assumption that vitamin D has a very important role in our circadian clock or sleep/wake cycle. (more…)