Dr. Katrina Traikov ND

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19 simple tips for sound sleep, naturally

Good quality sleep is so important for our mental and physical health. It allows our bodies and minds to rest and restore, and it allows our immune system to keep us healthy and strong. These tips can be helpful to promote restful and restorative sleep, but so can discussing any sleep issues with your healthcare provider.

1) Decrease or avoid screen time 2-3 hours before bed

eg. cell phones, TV, tablets. Anything with blue light will decrease your melatonin levels – the body’s sleep hormone. Some phones or screens also have a “night mode”. You can also try using daylight bulbs during the day, and warm colour lighting in the evenings. (eg. after dinner until bedtime.

2) Use low-lighting in your bedroom

eg.  warm lighting. No blue light or TV or phone screens as this decreases your body’s ability to make melatonin – the sleep hormone.

3) Expose yourself to sunlight for 30 seconds when you get up first thing in the morning

Together with the avoidance of screen time and the use of low lighting in the evenings, this can help to re-set your circadian rhythm.

4) Avoid stimulating activities before going to bed

eg. intense exercise, arguments, watching the news, or using the computer, tablet or cell phone.

5) Develop a calming bedtime routine

help your body and mind realize it’s time to start winding down. Try using a change in lighting, or maybe even some calming scents.

6) Avoid bedtime snacks that are high in sugar, simple carbohydrates or caffeine

These can decrease your sleep quality (eg. breads, chips, crackers, popcorn, potato, pop, candies, chocolate, coffee, black tea, green tea)

7) Alcohol interferes with REM sleep so it is best avoided in the evening

Alcohol can be problematic if it is 1 oz or more within 2 hours of bedtime.

8) Try to avoid fluid in general or even moderate amounts of food 2 hours before bed 

Fluid, especially if it’s caffeinated can disrupt your sleep by making it so you need to get up to pee.

9) Relaxation or stress management techniques

Activities like deep breathing, doing a body scan, gentle stretching or progressive muscle relaxation can help you relax and let your body know it’s time for bed.

10) Create a relaxing environment to sleep in

eg. soothing wall colours, clutter-free zone – so you associate this space with rest and relaxation

11) Use your bed for sleeping, sex and recovering from sickness only

ie. not doing work in this space – so you associate this space with rest and relaxation.

12) Ensure your bedroom is quiet

13) Invest in a comfortable mattress

14) Choose comfortable bedding

eg. feels comfortable on your skin, doesn’t keep you too warm. This can be especially useful after a day of sensory overload.

15) Keep your bedroom cold but not too cold

eg. no warmer than 21°C or 70°F, and ensure you also do not get overheated, as this can interfere with sleep quality.

16) When you are ready to sleep, make your bedroom as dark as possible

eg. you should not be able to see your hand in front of your face. This allows your body to make adequate melatonin – the sleep hormone. Be mindful that this does not increase your risk of tripping and falling or otherwise injuring yourself.

17) Sleeping with pets, children or partners who snore, kick, or move a bunch can disrupt your sleep.

18) If you go to the bathroom during the night, keep the lights off if possible or use a red night light

Even brief light exposure can disrupt melatonin production. Red light does this the least. Avoid blue light if possible.

19) Avoid using an overly loud alarm clock

Waking up suddenly can be a shock to your body. I use a sunrise alarm clock that beeps quietly at first and gradually gets louder. The light on it also gradually gets brighter like a sunrise.

For more information, feel free to call, e-mail or come in for a free introductory visit.

Originally published in the Valley Naturopath clinic newsletter October 2013.

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