A couple weeks ago, in my blog post about anxiety, I promised I’d write a post about sleep. Today’s topic discusses 7 things you can do to create the optimum conditions for sleep.
Sleeping well is one of the most important things you can do for your health! Your brain uses this time to do repairs and remove any toxins that have built up from the day’s efforts, so it stays healthy and is prepared for the following day. Studies show that people with poor sleep tend towards obesity and hypertension too. Sleep is very important! Here are some tips for improving your sleep.
- Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Dim lights, soft fabrics, no electronics or work station. Create a bedroom that feels like a place to retreat and encourage peaceful relaxation.
- Catch the wave; the melatonin wave that is! Your brain knows it’s time to sleep when melatonin is produced, usually between 8 and 10 pm. Try to avoid screen time (including TV, computers and personal electronics) after 8 pm, which interrupt melatonin production, and be in bed by 10 pm to work with your body’s natural sleep rhythm.
- Avoid caffeine after 3 pm. Caffeine stays in your body for 4-6 hours after you ingest it, and can interrupt melatonin receptivity. It is also a diuretic, so getting up to pee can interrupt your sleep! Check out this blog post for more on how to time caffeine for optimal effects.
- Alcohol: avoid it, or use only in moderation, at least while you’re training your brain and body to sleep well. It depletes vitamins that you need to support melatonin production in your body. It is also a diuretic, and like caffeine, can make you wake up to go pee. Not helpful when you’re trying to sleep through the night!
- Exercise daily, but not after 7 pm. Exercise tires out your body and helps to metabolize the stimulating hormones that keep you up at night. But because it gets your blood moving and wakes your brain up, it is better not to do it when your body rhythms are primed for slowing down. Try for first thing in the morning or during mid-afternoon for optimal effects. It doesn’t have to be a lot; even a 15 minute walk is beneficial.
- Keep a journal by your bed, and jot down thoughts that just won’t quit! Giving the run-on thoughts a place to land outside of your brain is sometimes just what is needed to be able to set them aside and nod off.
- Soothe your senses. If you are light sensitive, consider a sleep mask. Sound sensitive? Consider ear plugs or a fan for white noise. Keeping the bedroom temperature slightly cool so you can layer on a heavy blanket is calming to the nervous system as well.
These are all beneficial activities to help you sleep. If try these and still aren’t having the sleep experience you need, consider seeing a medical professional. There are health conditions that can interrupt sleep and it’s important to screen for those if these steps don’t help. Sleep is very important, because your brain is important! Take care of it and it will take care of you.
As usual, this blog post is provided for general information and is not a personal medical recommendation. For personalized, naturopathic medical assistance with sleep or another health concern, consider scheduling an Optimum Healing New Patient Package.
Dr. Tremblay graduated from high school with an associate’s degree in horticulture and worked as a gardener for 10 years before returning to higher education and the healer’s path. Dr. Tremblay studied native plant ecology and ethnomedicine at The Evergreen State College, and earned her doctorate degree in Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University. Read more >>