Why do people in Blue Zones sleep better at night?
Several factors in the Blue Zones lifestyle contribute to their residents’ good sleep habits. We highlight a few here that you can adopt in your daily routine so you are sleeping like a baby come nighttime
Habits that are part of a daily routine lead to consistency. People in Blue Zones tend to follow a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up around the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps regulate their circadian rhythm, the internal clock that governs sleep-wake cycles, leading to easier falling asleep and waking up feeling refreshed.
What they do during the day also has a positive impact on their quality of sleep, which we outline here.
The power of sunlight
The national spirit of happiness in Great Britain rises when the sun shines. If there is a sunny streak, it’s like we have all drank from a golden elixir of peace and good vibes. Then the clouds and rain come and we hunker down back into our homes and offices come lunch break.
It’s no surprise then that people who live in Blue Zones are happier because they often have ample exposure to sunlight throughout the year. Getting regular exposure to daylight, especially in the morning, helps suppress melatonin production, the sleep hormone, and keeps the circadian rhythm on track. This promotes alertness during the day and better sleep at night.
Make moving your mantra
Blue Zones residents typically engage in regular physical activity as part of their daily routine. This could be gardening, walking, or other forms of moderate exercise. Physical activity helps tire the body out, making it easier to fall asleep at night. It also builds up good vibes or happy hormones. However, avoiding intense exercise too close to bedtime is important to ensure good sleep.
Prioritise relaxation by scheduling it into your day
Many Blue Zones cultures prioritise relaxation and stress management. Practices like meditation, yoga, and tai chi can help calm the mind and body before bed, promoting deeper sleep.
Try these foods to get better quality sleep
The plant-based diet common in Blue Zones is generally low in processed foods and sugar, which can disrupt sleep. Additionally, certain foods like nuts, rich in magnesium, and tart cherries, containing melatonin, can promote better sleep. So, make yourself a nut and seeds mix and take a couple handfuls each day.
Power of the afternoon nap
Napping is quite common in some Blue Zones, especially among older adults. Short naps taken in the early afternoon can help refresh the body and mind without interfering with nighttime sleep. Make it a part of your lunch break.
Decrease overstimulation to artificial light and 24/7 screen time
Blue Zones generally have limited exposure to artificial light sources like screens in the evening hours. This helps prevent the suppression of melatonin, which is crucial for falling asleep. Keep your phone away from your nightstand or vow not to look at your phone until after breakfast and your morning walk or exercise routine.
Being social impacts your sleep
Strong social connections and close-knit communities are characteristic of Blue Zones. This sense of belonging and social support can contribute to reduced stress and anxiety, which can improve sleep quality. Time with others help you feel less alone and can act as a diversion from your work, which is essential for a well-balanced life as a freelancer.
Blue Zone residents often have a strong sense of purpose and meaning in life, which can contribute to overall well-being and reduce stress. A lack of purpose or direction can lead to anxiety and interfere with sleep.
While each Blue Zone has its unique cultural practices, these common factors contribute to their residents’ healthy sleep habits and overall longevity. Incorporating these practices into your life can improve your sleep and overall well-being.
Remember, consulting a healthcare professional is always recommended for personalised advice on improving your sleep, especially if you are on any medications that could be contributing to your problems with getting to sleep.