How To Get Better Sleep Naturally!

Sleep provides the foundation for nourishing our bodies. It is the prime time for rest and restoration. During sleep, our cells literally repair so that we can start anew in the morning. Despite being one of the biggest foundations for health, sleep disorders affect upwards of 40 million Americans.

There are so many reasons why folks suffer from from poor sleep and they include:
  • Hormonal dysregulation
  • Emotional dis-ease
  • Over-thinking and stress
  • Chronic pain
  • Actual medical conditions affecting the heart, lungs, thyroid, etc.
  • Noise disturbance and other material barriers (light exposure, living in a busy area, etc.)

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Like for every other condition, it is so important to deal with the root cause of sleep disturbance. Sometimes that means taking medications to deal with more serious underlying issues. Sometimes that means taking supplements and herbs to help us fall and stay asleep. And sometimes that means working on lifestyle factors like our diets and habits to increase our chances for getting better sleep.

Many say that getting 7-9 hours of sleep is the key to health. While there is tremendous value in the quantity of sleep you are getting, I think there is more value in getting quality sleep. I would take 6 hours of deep uninterrupted sleep over 8 hours of interrupted and non-restorative sleep. Quality over quantity!

Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for better sleep!

Reduce “screen time” at least 2 hours before bed. The light from TV, phones, and computers can actually trick your brain into staying awake. Related to this, keeping your room as dark as possible helps trick your brain into thinking it’s time for sleep.
  • Use an eye mask. This is related to the above suggestion. Eye masks are not only super comfortable, but they help maintain a dark environment, which promotes a deeper and more restful sleep.

  • Don’t eat 2 hours before bed. This can be really hard to do. Food can be really comforting before bed, and some us get home really late and only have small window of time to do things like clean, organize, and eat before hitting the sack. But, eating takes alot of resources from your body. Your body has to work to digest the food, and what it should be doing is preparing you for rest and relaxation.
  • If you do eat right before bed, eat protein. Surely, all food needs to be digested, and micro nutrients do indeed get stored as fat. But protein is a far better choice at night, compared to carbs and fats, not only for weight management, but for optimizing the conditions for sleep. Protein has yin energy and is more nourishing. Eating simple carbs such as sugary snacks right before bed has yang energy, which promotes alertness and hyperactivity.
  • Create a ritual around sleep. Having a practice that you implement on a consistent basis can help make the process of falling asleep more joyful and more meaningful. This could be as simple as doing a quick meditation, having a cup of tea with calming herbs, or writing in a gratitude journal.
  • Write your cares and worries on a sheet of paper: They can wait until tomorrow. For those of us whose minds can’t shut off at night due to stress, anxiety, and over-worrying, writing down your thoughts and concerns on sheet of paper is a great idea. It gives voice to your legitimate worries but it also takes them out of your mind. Who knows, you might wake up in the morning feeling less stressed this way.
  • Herbs and supplements: There are so many awesome herbs and nutrients that you can take to help you sleep, and many of them are the same herbs you’d use for treating anxiety and depression. Some wonderful options include lemon balm, kava, hops, passionflower, 5-HTP, phosphatidylserine and melatonin. We can work together to figure out which supplement would be best for your specific sleep pattern and needs.

These are just some of the many interventions you can try to help you with sleep. And once again, insomnia and sleep disturbance are just symptoms of a foundational imbalance. There are so many other interventions we can explore together!

If you want to explore many other ways of regulating your sleep cycle, contact me for a more thorough analysis and more customized treatment plan, just for you.

I can’t emphasize enough how good sleep can change your day, and thus your life.

In health.
Dr. Naika