There is nothing better than waking up in the morning feeling refreshed and full of energy for the day. To open your eyes and to jump out of bed with the expectation that the best is yet to come.
If you are like the many patients that I see, however, this isn’t quite your reality. Instead of feeling great and full of energy in the morning, you find yourself hitting the snooze button repeatedly with barely enough energy to open your eyes.
Whether you chose to go to bed too late, or was unable to fall and stay asleep, the lack of a good night’s sleep renders you useless until you get that shot of adrenaline (coffee) to get you going.
Sleep, however, is very important. Without it our bodies cannot heal and we will find ourselves more susceptible to illnesses and other chronic health conditions. Many of my patients find that when they are able to implement a better quality of sleep that their bodies function at a higher level and the health concerns that they have diminish.
Falling and staying asleep, however, isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Many of you would gladly sleep the required amount of time (6-8 hours) if you could. For whatever reason you struggle with either falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night, or if you really have it bad, you struggle with both!
The good new is that you don’t have to continue to struggle with a good night’s sleep. There are some very practical tips that you can implement to improve your overall sleep.
1. Do not eat or drink anything with sugar or caffeine in it 2-3 hours prior to going to bed. Sugar and caffeine are stimulants and will prevent you from entering into a sleep state. Your sleep patterns are affected by the hormones cortisol and melatonin and sugar and caffeine disrupt their natural levels.
2. Go to bed by 10 pm. Research shows that the best hours to get sleep are between 10 pm and 6 am. The hours between 11 pm and 1 am is the period of time where your body will rest and recover the best. Your body (particularly your adrenal system) does a majority of its recharging between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into your liver, which can further disrupt your health.
When you stay awake past 10 pm your rhythm will be disrupted and you will find it harder to fall asleep. This is why so many people feel the “second wind” around 11 pm and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
3. Turn off your TV, Computer, and other electronics at least 30-45 minutes prior to your bedtime. These devices stimulate your senses and artificially raise your cortisol and adrenaline levels. You should read, journal, or pray/meditate during these minutes prior to falling asleep.
4. Make sure your bedroom’s temperature is between 60-70 degrees F. When your bedroom it too warm or too cool it will make it more difficult to sleep. Research has shown that between 60-68 degrees F is ideal for sleep.
When you sleep, your body’s internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep. Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.
5. Completely “Black-out” your bedroom. Light disrupts sleep so having even an alarm clock that illuminates can impact your sleep. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. Put up black out shades over your windows and make sure all electrical devices are off. Close your bedroom door, and get rid of night-lights. Refrain from turning on any light at all during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom.
All life evolved in response to predictable patterns of light and darkness, called circadian rhythms. Modern day electrical lighting has significantly betrayed your inner clock by disrupting your natural rhythms. Little bits of light pass directly through your optic nerve to your hypothalamus, which controls your biological clock.
Light signals your brain that it’s time to wake up and starts preparing your body for ACTION.
6. Reserve your bed for sleeping. If you are used to watching TV or doing work in bed, you may find it harder to relax and drift off to sleep, so avoid doing these activities in bed.
7. Don’t change your bedtime. You should go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even on the weekends. This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.
8. Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol will make you drowsy, the effect is short lived and you will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where your body does most of its healing.
9. Make certain you are exercising regularly. Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can improve your sleep. However, don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake. Studies show exercising in the morning is the best if you can manage it.
10. Listen to relaxation CDs. Some people find the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to be soothing for sleep. I personally listen to the rolling waves every night while I sleep. This helps me reach the deep delta sleep much faster and completely relaxes my body.
Check your Adrenals
In addition to implementing these suggestions, you may want to have your adrenal glands tested. Insomnia is often caused by adrenal stress. Many of my patients find that supporting their adrenal glands does wonders for their sleep issues and overall health. For more information on this check out this video–>>HERE.