After reading my last blog about Why Sleep is Important for Your Health, I’m sure you want to know what you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. These are my top tips:
- The most important sleep habit is to keep a regular schedule – we are creatures of habit and have a hard time adjusting to new sleep schedules. The more you do it, the easier it gets!
- Avoid bright light after the sun goes down. Invest in dimmer switches for your house, turn tv and phone screen brightness down, wear blue light blocking glasses. The light affects our natural sleep-wake cycle (Circadian Rhythm). Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Get black out curtains and cover all lights from devices. If you can still see light, invest in a sleep eye mask or keep all devices out of the bedroom. Avoid screens an hour before bed – one study showed a 50% decrease in Melatonin (sleep hormone) with 30 minutes of reading on a tablet vs a book before bed.
- Sleep onset is associated with cool body temperatures. Keep the bedroom temperature around 65-68 degrees F. Having a hot bath can be very relaxing and when you get out, your body temperature drops and causes you to become sleepy.
- Avoid alcohol – it is one of the most powerful suppressors of REM sleep that we know of. It also causes you to wake up multiple times throughout the night without realizing it so your sleep is disrupted and non-restorative.
- Avoid large meals late at night – our digestive system is supposed to be resting at night too!
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine – these are stimulants and can make it to fall asleep and to sleep soundly. Caffeine can take up to 12 hours to fully metabolize. Smokers sleep very lightly and have a hard time getting deep sleep.
- Exercise at lease 30 minutes daily but not within the last 2-3 hours before bed time – it can keep your body temperature too high and you won’t be able to fall asleep.
- If you are concerned that your medication is disrupting your sleep, talk to your pharmacist, medical doctor or naturopathic doctor about your options.
- Don’t take naps after 3pm – it can make it harder to fall asleep.
- Expose your skin to sunlight as early in the day as you can. Daylight is key to regulating sleep patterns. Try to get outside at least 30 minutes a day. I know this can be tricky sometimes with our outdoor temperatures so you need to take advantage when you get the opportunity to.
- Don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep. If it’s been more than 20 minutes get up and do a relaxing activity for a few minutes. No screens!
- Ask me about mouth taping techniques and how it can improve your breathing and sleep quality.
- Book a treatment! Getting adjusted is my quick go-to if I have a bad night’s sleep. Chiropractic adjustments switch the nervous system from our sympathetic (fight or flight) to our parasympathetic (rest, digest, restore) which allows for a better sleep. Massage, reiki, reflexology, acupuncture, BodyTalk, and fascial stretch can all help relax the body and calm the nervous system. I slept for TEN hours after my first reflexology appointment!
– Dr. Lindsay