10 Amazing Ways to Improve Sleep
By Ashley Gish, WHNP
Sleep is one of the most underrated yet essential components of a healthy lifestyle. We live in a culture that glorifies burning the candle at both ends, and while there’s nothing wrong with a little hustle respecting your body’s need to rest is just as important as the foods you eat and getting regular exercise.
In fact, without quality sleep, diet and exercise become slightly less important. In his master course on sleep, Dr. Mark Hyman argued, “you cannot achieve optimal health without getting a good night’s sleep.” Even one night of poor sleep increases hormones that affect appetite leaving you more likely to reach for refined carbohydrates and sugars to refuel.
Quality sleep is essential for managing stress, balancing hormones, and can help with weight loss and improve sex drive. So how can you start sleeping better? Here are a few of my favorite tips:
1.Get outside! Did you know that just 15 minutes of exposure to natural light in the morning can help you fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep at night?
Early exposure to sunlight stimulates the pineal gland in your brain, helping to reset your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
So skip your morning phone session and take your morning meditation outside or sip your morning beverage out on the porch to energize your body during the day and help you to rest better at night.
2. Incorporate some form of exercise every day. Even better, take your exercise routine outside. All exercise is fantastic, but by exercising in nature a few days a week, you get the added benefits of improved vitamin D levels, more balanced circadian rhythms, and a mood boost!
3. Set the stage for sleep. A few hours before bed, start dimming the lights in your home. Even better, you could exchange some LED lights for old school Edison bulbs that emit more of a red/orange light and are less activating to your brain. Turn on a mellow playlist and consider putting screens away at least 2 hours before lights out. If that’s not an option for you, try blue light blocking glasses or apps on your phone or computer.
4. Improve your gut health! Everything starts in the gut. Every part of your body is connected, and if you’re not eating and digesting well, you’re likely not sleeping as well as possible.
5. Make sure Vitamin D levels are optimal, not just within normal range but ideally between 45 and 75ng/dL.
6. Eat a hormone-healthy diet that is low in sugar and high in healthy fats, proteins, and lots of nutrient-dense plants.
7. Detox your environment. You can’t properly detox if you are living in a toxic environment. Consider an air purifier for your bedroom. Eat organic when possible, and be mindful of the products you use on your skin and in your home.
8. Manage stress levels and do something that you LOVE everyday! Make relaxation a part of your daily routine. Active relaxation is not self-indulgent. It’s essential to your well-being. Try a warm bath, massage, soft music, board games, something you enjoy to wind down and lower your cortisol in the evening.
9. Create boundaries around technology. Try putting your phone away at least 2 hours before bed, and turn it onto airplane mode or keep it out of the bedroom to charge at night.
10. Most importantly, find a routine that works for you and stick to it. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For more in-depth information, all of the above tips, consider taking Dr. Hyman’s Masterclass on sleep. Improve your health by improving the quality of your sleep today!
If you would like to learn more about how sleep affects your health, and learn new ways to improve your sleep, contact Shift Functional Medicine today and make an appointment for a virtual consultation!