Sleep health is whole life health!
The quality of our sleep time dictates the quality of our wake time.
When our bodies don’t get good rest, they are unable to heal and restore themselves from the stressors of daily life. This means low immune function, cardiovascular function, memory and processing, and metabolism functioning.
Here’s how you can OPTIMIZE your sleep health.
1. Avoid substances that contribute to restless sleep later in the day
- Caffeine –it’s okay to have some coffee during the day but try to limit your intake to the morning and early afternoon. Every body is different, so your time might be earlier or you may be able to tolerate a little later cut off, but the general time for last call is about 4 pm.
- Nicotine –the goal for everyone should be to avoid all use of nicotine. But if you’re still in the process of kicking the habit, avoid using it later in the day.
- Alcohol—although alcohol can help you fall asleep more easily, it actually diminishes your REM sleep cycles and prevents you from getting full, healthy sleep. So if you are going to have a glass of wine, do it earlier in the evening and not close to bedtime.
2. Get moving
- Physical activity during the day helps our bodies build up adenosine, which makes us feel tired at night. But be careful not to exercise to close to bedtime, which can cause the stress hormone cortisol to buildup—which has the opposite effect on sleep.
3. Lower your body temperature at night
- Lower temperatures signal the body to slow down internal activity levels and move into sleep
- Make sure your house is cool
- Sleep with minimal clothing—if you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning because you’re cold, try keeping a warm robe next to the bed to throw on as you get out
4. Make your bedroom a sanctuary of sleep
- Mind association is a powerful thing. If you bedroom is a catch all for work emails, stressful conversations, etc. your mind will have a hard time moving in to a relaxed space as you prepare to sleep. Dedicate you bedroom as a space for relaxation and intimacy.
- If you are not sensitive to smells, try diffusing lavender essential oil before and during sleep to create an even more relaxing space.
5. Light exposure
- Light exposure is a key influencer in signaling our bodies to turn on or off our melatonin production (which helps our bodies feel sleepy). Our cinstant access to artificial light can throw our bodies natural rhythms out of whack. Give your body a little help by giving it lots of light during the day (as much natural as you can) and lowering your exposure at night. Here are a few life hacks to help:
- Use a sunrise simulation alarm clock. There are lots of affordable options on amazon.
- Open you blinds when you first wake up. If you can swing it, opt for a short (or long) walk in the morning. (Bonus! The morning movement will also help you build up adenosine which will help you fall asleep easier)
- Opt for total darkness at night. It is recommended that your room should be dark enough that you cannot see your hand in front of your face. Make sure to keep brightly lit electronics out of the bedroom and opt for blackout curtains and blinds. If this is not an option, an eye mask can help, but will not totally make up for a dark room since the skin also has light receptors.
- Limit your nighttime screen time. Ideally you should not be looking at screens during the hours leading to bedtime. If this is not do-able, there are now blue-light blocking glasses you can wear when viewing or download a blue light filtering app for your computer. If you have an iphone you can set your phone to automatically go to night sift at a pre-determined time each night.
6. Still can’t sleep? Add supplements.
- Magnesium: can start with this magnesium calm 1-2 tsp at night. Its so relaxing and calming making it great for sleep, headaches, and muscle tension!
- Luna Sleep Aid: this is another great blend that is a little stronger than magnesium calm. You can take 1-2 capsules nightly. I absolutely love this product and have gotten several of my patients off ambien and other strong sleep medications with Luna Sleep Aid.