Methods & Remedies to Improve Sleep
Go to bed & wake up at the same times each day to set your body’s circadian rhythm.
Exercise at any time of the day increases sleep quality as long as you allow yourself to wind-down fully before bed.
No caffeine after 5pm.
Reduce or eliminate alcohol. Alcohol makes you feel sleepy but actually reduces the amount of time spent in the deepest most restorative level of sleep.
Reduce or eliminate sugar/dessert in the evening.
Use a sleep meditation right before bed.
No naps after 3pm, and no naps longer than 20 minutes. Naps are a great way to recover from a sleep deficit but longer than 20 min or after 3pm and they may interfere with nighttime sleep, which is the most restorative.
Create a comfortable sleep environment that is cozy & dark with no screens (tv/phone). Staring at the light of a screen before bed signals the brain to wake up.
If you wake up, do not turn your tv or phone on as it will make it harder to go back to sleep. If your brain is awake, do something less stimulating like reading a light book or listening to a sleep meditation.
The ideal sleep temperature is 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Melatonin increases when body temperature drops right before bedtime so reduce the temperature in your home as you begin your bedtime routine. Taking a bath or shower before bed is a way to boost this effect. Make sure your bed linens aren’t too warm.
Helpful supplements with good research to back them up…
- Magnesium Citrate - Pure Encapsulations (or magnesium oil transdermally)
- Montmorency Tart Cherry Juice (only the Montmorency type) - 1oz at night and upon waking (helps the body regulate it’s own melatonin)
- Lavender Oil pills - 1-2 pills at night - Nature’s Way CalmAid
- Melatonin - 3 mg - Pure Encapsulations
- Chamomile Tea
- Passion flower - 45 drops/day
- L-Theanine - 400mg/day
Try not to fixate/worry if you wake up in the night. Tell yourself that it’s good that your body is getting quiet and rest even if you’re not asleep. If your body/brain feel truly awake and uncomfortable in bed, get up and use the sleep deficit to create exhaustion & a better sleep the following night.
Maximize your exposure to morning light. Stand at a window, walk to work, or if it’s dark out, get a sunlamp that provides 10,000LUX and use for 30 minutes each morning. Recommended - Verilux Happy Light
Have a similar routine getting ready for bed each night. Slow yourself down as you engage in your routine. The goal is to remind the body that you’re preparing for sleep, to associate the routine with sleep and get it ready to relax in bed.
Only use your bed for sleep or sex. Especially do not to activities that feel stressful in bed, such as work. You want your brain to associate your bed with sleep only.
Progressive Relaxation - Lie in bed and focus on your toes and say to yourself internally ‘relax your toes’ and feel your toes relax. Then say ‘relax your ankles’ and focus on relaxing your ankles. Move slowly up the body until your whole body feels relaxed.
Traditional anxiety treatment - Much insomnia is related to untreated anxiety. SSRIs and other medications are very effective at treating this and are likely to help when supplements and the above lifestyle changes aren’t working.