Sleep: How to achieve healthy sleep naturally
How To Get Good Sleep in Nashville
Sleep is a lifestyle foundation of our health and is featured on the Functional Medicine Matrix as one of the 5 foundations to good health. We still don’t know everything that goes on in our bodies when we sleep, but research is confirming that yes we do need restful and restorative sleep every night to promote cellular cleaning, detox, memory, and as part of the powerful circadian rhythm that guides our bodies.
Part of your treatment plan might be a recommendation to get more sleep, rightfully so. But I know that’s easier said than done in this world of pressures, phones, tablets, tv’s, and ambient light and noise. But, we do know there are many practices that can really improve not only the quantity but the quality of your sleep as well. And if these don’t work on their own, there are some fabulous supplements and herbs that can help.
So here are the things that I see make the biggest difference in my clients sleep:
Prepare your body for sleep:
- Get off all screens at least an hour before your bedtime, or if you must be using a device, either wear amber glasses to block the bluelight or turn on red filters that take out all the blue light. You see, all this blue light signals to the brain that it’s still daytime which impedes the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, which is not what we want to do.
- Stop drinking coffee or tea by noon, no exceptions. Caffeine is a stimulant which can really mess with our energy and sleep cycles. Preferably stick to 2 cups/day.
- Limit your evening alcohol consumption and of possible allow three hours between your last drink and your bedtime. Yes, you may fall asleep more easily after a few drinks, but it totally messes with your blood sugar and disrupts your restful sleep.
- Don’t watch or read the news before bed. This can cause anxiety or stress that might keep you awake.
- If you tend to ruminate at night, have a “brain dump” journal that you write in before bed and write down reminders, things you don’t want to forget or all of your worries down and let them out. Your brain will be able to better let go of them knowing they’re written down somewhere.
- Take a very hot epsom salt bath infused with lavender for 20 minutes right before bed. This does two things – it completely relaxes your muscles allowing for deep calm and it signals the cooling mechanism of your body.
- Get natural light first thing in the morning and at some point around mid-day. This helps set your circadian clock.
- This is the last one and probably the one I get the most resistance around and that is to have a regular bedtime and waking time 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. It is a myth that you can “make up” lost sleep over the weekend. And, by having a set routine, your body settles into a rhythm, and learns when to be sleepy and when to be awake. Or course there will be times that this isn’t possible, but do your best when you can.
Prepare Your Environment for sleep:
- Keep your bedroom on the chillier side, ideally around 65-70 degrees or 30 degrees below the daytime high if you live in hotter climates like in Nashville.
- Block out all light sources which included LED lights on gadgets in your room and light from outside. You can do this by simply wearing an eye mask at night or invest in blackout curtains.
- Have some “pink” noise in the background. Sometimes an air filter is all you need to create this type of sound.
- Make sure you have a comfy bed with sheets that you love.
If you have a hard time sleeping or feel fatigued, try a few of these ideas that resonate with you. The more you can integrate into your life, the more restorative sleep you will get and, trust me, the more energy you’ll have to give your body to heal and to be present for everything that you want in your life.