Top 10 Sleep Tips for Sleep Awareness Week 2015

Dr. Doni, author of The Stress Remedy, offers 10 simple tips for you to get a good night’s sleep.

sleep, Sleep Awareness Week, sleep environment, melatonin, restful sleep, trouble sleeping, insomnia, insomniac, Daylight Saving Time, clocks changing, change your clocks, disrupted sleep, sleep disruptionDid you know that this week was Sleep Awareness Week? Organizations like the National Sleep Foundation and others participate in a public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep. Each year, Sleep Awareness Week ends with the “spring ahead” clock change to Daylight Saving Time (don’t forget—it’s this Sunday!).

Since 2002, the National Sleep Foundation has been conducting a series of polls on a range of sleep-related topics, including exercise and sleep, sleep and again, and their “Bedroom Polls.” You can find the poll results here.

If you are a regular reader, you know that I just finished a 12-part Series on Sleep Disruptors and Insomnia, detailing all the factors that can rob you of a good night’s sleep—and what you can do about it. I invite you to take a look—and share it with your friends and family, too! The series page is here.

Simply put, good sleep is critical to your overall health and wellness. Chronic stress, spurred on by lack of sleep, and cortisol (the stress hormone) affect the four core systems—hormones, immune system, digestion, and nervous system. Research shows that when sleep is disrupted, cortisol levels are not optimal, throwing off your hormone levels and increasing inflammation. This creates a cycle that perpetuates sleep issues. Getting out of this cycle and getting into a pattern of good, sound, restful sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Top 10 Sleep Tips

As a capstone to my Series on Sleep Disruptors and Insomnia, here are my top 10 tips to help you achieve a good night’s sleep for optimal health:

  1. Maintain a regular bedtime and wake schedule, including on weekends.
  2. Plan on going to sleep by 10 p.m. (or nine hours before you have to wake up) when melatonin levels are optimal for sleep.
  3. Use the hour before bed for less stimulating activities (turn off the TV, iPad, and other devices). If you have to be exposed to light at night, you can also use special glasses, such as these from Uvex and Sun Shield, or an app on your computer to block blue light.
  4. Lower the lights because they stimulate the hormones that wake you up. Make sure that your bedroom is completely dark. Make sure that it is cool, clean, and quiet as well.
  5. Avoid caffeine, and large amounts of food (especially sugar and carbohydrates) within 3 hours of bedtime, both of which can disrupt sleep.
  6. Support your body to lower your cortisol levels with a product such as Stress-fix TM by Aveda. It is made with organic lavender and sage, and comes as a lotion, bath salts, and oil. For instance, lavender can lower cortisol levels, which is what we all need for good sleep. Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga all also help lower cortisol levels when they are too high.
  7. Use an app such as “Sleep Cycle” to track your sleep and help you to identify wakefulness and sleep effectiveness. Then you can address any issues that you identify.
  8. Avoid alcohol and nicotine, especially late in the day. Although some people think alcohol helps with sleep, it actually disrupts sleep and leads to more nighttime awakenings.
  9. Do not spend too much time awake in bed. If you are not sleeping, get out of bed and do something else for a while.
    1. Sleep on a comfortable and clean mattress, bedding, and pillows. Make sure your mattress is supportive and that it has not exceeded its life expectancy (usually about 10 years).

This list was originally published in my article called, “Sleep Your Way to Slim: 10 Ways to Improve Sleep for Wellness and Weight Loss,” on Huffington Post. You can find the complete article here.

I hope you enjoyed this series—and more importantly, I hope that you are using it to improve your sleep. My next series will be around Genetic Health Conditions, including MTHFR, COMT, and MAO. I have gotten such an amazing response to my post from last year, Folic Acid and MTHFR: Could You Have a Genetic Mutation?, that I felt like a deeper dive into the topic would be helpful.

Thank you, as always, to my regular readers. I love hearing from you, and I appreciate your support and encouragement.

And once again, don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend!

–Dr. Doni
6th March 2015

Dr. Doni’s Natural Sleep Solutions Package
I designed a special 4-month naturopathic treatment package to address the very issues outlined here in this post (and in this whole series on sleep).

This rigorous program will help you identify the underlying cause of your sleep issues, construct a natural remedy plan that will reduce or eliminate your symptoms, and design a long-term health regime to help you get restful sleep and restore your quality of life.

For more info, please see: https://doctordoni.com/sleep-solutions.

Photo credit: “Sad man holding pillow” by Vic is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Changed from original: Added text overlays.

Comments

  1. I have always struggled with sleeping. In fact, I have sleep apnea and it really affects my life. I have definitely used most of these ten tips to help me sleep better, but I have never heard of the app in number seven. I think that I will try using that app to see it if it benefits me. Are there any other applications like “Sleep Cycle” that I could try out as well so that I can compare and contrast them?

    • Yes! There are actually a bunch of sleep apps you could try out and see which you like best. Please share what you discover!