One in 3 adults in the U.S. report getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night . But this falls far short of the mark. Seven hours of sleep per night is necessary for optimal health and wellbeing . Getting less than 7 hours of sleep sets the stage for everything from diabetes and obesity to depression, cardiovascular disease, and more. We just can’t afford to ignore how important sleep is.
Below are 5 Steps for Getting Your Best Night’s Sleep. These are science-based suggestions to enhance your sleep health. I’ve also included some bonus tips to “Treat Yourself!” These may require a little extra time or money for those looking to deepen their sleep.
Step 1: Follow the Light.
Light is the most powerful driver of circadian rhythm . Getting sunlight early in the morning and avoiding junk light at night significantly improves your sleep quality .
- In the morning, go outside and be in the sunlight within 1 hour of waking up. Even 2-10 minutes is enough to program your circadian rhythm.
- In the evening, go outside and look into the evening light one hour before going to sleep. Getting outside for sunset or around dusk triggers the slow release of melatonin which signals the body to wind down .
- If you work the night shift, expose yourself to sunlight for 10 minutes on workday mornings. This is enough to program your circadian rhythm .
Step 2: Be Intentional (with your sleep routine).
Good sleep health starts way before you’re ready for bed. Give yourself the time and space to prepare for bed.
- Pick a time you want to be in bed. This should be the same time every night. Sticking to a one hour wake up time and bedtime window, even on your days off, helps you stay energetic throughout the week. FYI: It’s completely okay to break your normal bedtime routine every once in a while. After that, just try to get back to your normal rhythm.
- Stay off electronics (remember from Step 1 – no junk light). It takes some time to fall asleep so give your body that time.
- Talk with your partner about their sleep. You can support one another in your sleep routine.
Step 3: Minimize Disruptors.
Modern life has caused us to be reliant on (a) caffeine, (b) convenience foods, and (c) technology which all disrupt our circadian rhythm and negatively impact our sleep.
- (a) Set a caffeine curfew. Caffeine has an average half-life of 5 hours, so drinking it later in the day can interfere with sleep quality, even if you fall asleep easily . Set a caffeine cutoff time around noon and avoid drinking more than two caffeinated drinks per day.
- (b) Regulate your mealtimes. Intermittent fasting , time-restricted eating, and not eating 2 hours before bed can help regulate your body’s hormones for better sleep .
- (c) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Avoid junk light! Minimize artificial light exposure at night, or wear blue-light blocking glasses.
Step 4: Wind Down.
Having an evening routine – a “wind down ritual” – helps to relax the body and mind for sleep.
- Dim or turn off any overhead lights. Try swapping out your white lights for amber colored lights.
- Have a cup of herbal tea – caffeine free, of course. Chamomile , passionflower , lavender , and valerian root  teas are clinically proven to aid in relaxation and sleep onset.
- Keep your bedroom cool. If you share a bed with someone, try using separate blankets, open a bedroom window, or simply turn on a fan to cool your room. .
Step 5: Supplement Smarter.
Some supplements actually help put you in a relaxed state which enhances sleep. Always check with your practitioner before taking any supplements. Some basics supplements are below, but if you need more support reach out to a qualified practitioner.
- Magnesium: Magnesium relaxes the body and turns off the stress response.
- Plant-based melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep. This is taken 30 minutes before bed.
- CBD: CBD influences the sleep/wake cycle and calms anxiety .
Bonus Tips: Treat Yourself!
- Take a bath. A bath before bed can help you fall asleep faster by lowering your core body temperature; this helps signal melatonin production . Add epsom salt (aka magnesium-sulfate) to optimize relaxation .
- Guided meditation. Meditation helps improve sleep quality and has a beneficial effect on insomnia, depression, anxiety, and fatigue .
- Journal. Gratitude journaling before bed aids in earlier sleep onset, longer sleep duration, and better-quality sleep .
- Keep it cool. If you’re a hot sleeper, cooling sleep technology is available and can provide more restful sleep.
- Noise control. Try using a sound machine to muffle out any noises distracting you from falling asleep.
- Mouth taping. Mouth breathing can cause snoring, sleep apnea, fatigue, worsening of asthma , and oral dysbiosis , which is related to tooth decay, dry mouth, gingivitis, and cavities .
Sleep is essential for immune health, weight control, blood sugar regulation, and overall psychological and physical health. Good quality sleep has an overarching impact on how we feel and function while awake, so it’s crucial we get enough of it.
Wishing you sweet dreams!
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