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Sleep Health: The Ultimate Guide to a Deep Night's Sleep

Hi Friends!


When I talk with people about their biggest health challenges, there’s one thing I hear about more than anything else: Sleep! People either aren’t getting enough sleep or what they do get is restless and leaves them exhausted. It’s getting in the way of their work, their health—their entire lives.


Poor sleep hygiene is far more common than you might think. A matter of fact, 20-40% of adults struggle with it in some way. In America alone, between 50–70 million people suffer from some sort of sleep disorder.


You can probably relate to this challenge on some level. Most of us know how stressful it can be to toss and turn through even one night of unrestful sleep, and many of us experience it regularly—if not every night.


Here’s the important thing to remember: We CAN get better sleep! It’s totally possible—I swear! That’s why I put together this guide. If you’re dreaming of uninterrupted sleep, let’s tackle sleep health together, shall we?



How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep:


Healthy sleep habits are key to a good night’s rest. What are they?


TIP #1: SET A SLEEP SCHEDULE

Creating a schedule that you can stick to can help regulate your sleep/wake cycle. If you feel sleepy but can’t sleep, try these things:


  1. Wake up at the same time every day: Waking up at the same time every day and creating sleep patterns for your body to follow may actually help you fall asleep at night.

  2. Follow the same routine every night: Get your pajamas on, brush your teeth, wash your face, etc. This nighttime sleep schedule can tell your brain that it’s time to wind down for bed.

  3. Avoid taking long naps: Daytime sleep can throw off nighttime sleep. If you need a nap, keep it short and no later than early afternoon.

  4. Prioritize sleep: You may be tempted to get “one more thing” done, finish your TV show, or read one more chapter. I get it! But don’t forget that your sleep health is important, too.

  5. Set a new routine gradually so that you can remain consistent. Remember that your sleep health impacts your daytime energy and functioning.


TIP #2: FOLLOW A SLEEP ROUTINE

Here’s the important thing to keep in mind: What we do in the hours leading up to bedtime can have a huge impact on the length and quality of our rest. So, if you want to set yourself up for healthy sleep try one of these practices to wind down:


  1. Unplug your devices: Put down your devices at least an hour before bed. I know it can be hard to stop scrolling and shut off the news, but don’t underestimate the importance of this advice. If you have to look at a screen, try Night Shift (for Apple) products or a program like f.lux to adjust the color temperature of your displays to let your eyes rest.

  2. Journal: If you’re tossing and turning after switching the lights off, you may need to hit the mental reset button. Why not try journaling? Get those thoughts on paper and out of your head.

  3. Meditation: Listen to a guided meditation.

  4. Bath-time: Did you know that temperature is related to sleep? Taking a hot bath before bedtime can raise your core body temperature. When your temperature drops as you prepare for bed, it tricks your body into thinking it’s time to turn in.

  5. Don’t let yourself toss and turn: If you can’t fall asleep after lying in bed for 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing (stretch, read, walk) for 15-30 minutes before returning to bed. (It’s best not to stay in bed frustrated because doing so can actually train your brain to see your bed as an unrestful place.)


TIP #3: OPTIMIZE YOUR ROOM

A dialed-in sleep environment can help you fall asleep and improve your sleep. Here are some things to try:

  1. Use a comfortable mattress and pillow: A quality mattress and soft blankets will reduce annoying distractions and help you relax.

  2. Set your room at a cooler temperature: The optimal temperature for sleeping is between 65–68 degrees. Your body temperature naturally decreases when you’re sleeping. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, decrease your room temperature before bed.

  3. Block out light: If your room isn’t completely dark, consider a sleep mask or room-darkening curtains. Darkness stimulates natural melatonin production, which is not only a wonderful sleep inducer but a great cancer fighter as well.

  4. Turn off the TV: Light—and blue light in particular—can reduce your body’s natural melatonin production, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. S leeping with the TV on typically leads to poor sleep quality and other sleep problems.

  5. Try using essential oils: Natural plant extracts have lots of wonderful uses, and a few in particular are great for helping you relax and get to sleep at night (lavender, sage, and ylang-ylang).

  6. Turn on soothing sounds: Use a sound machine or a fan to drown out what may be preventing you from falling asleep within 15 minutes of lying down. Certain types of music, such as binaural beats, may also help you relax and let go of racing thoughts.


TIP #4: FOCUS ON YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH

Healthy sleep habits include things that you should focus on during the day:


  1. Don’t smoke: It’s well-known that nicotine use is bad for your health, but it can also disrupt sleep, too. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it may be one more reason to cut the habit.

  2. Reduce alcohol consumption: For some people, alcohol can make you sleepy, but it’s actually linked with frequent waking and keeps you from restful sleep.

  3. Get your body moving: Physical activity during the day has a host of health benefits, including improved sleep at night.

  4. Avoid sleep medicine when possible: Sleep medicine can be addictive and make insomnia worse over time. They also don’t address the root problem you’re struggling with.

  5. Cut down the caffeinated drinks: Caffeine makes it harder to fall asleep, but it doesn’t stop there—it can also interfere with the quality of your rest. If you’re having trouble getting or staying asleep, stick to one cup of coffee early in the morning or try herbal tea.

  6. Eat dinner early in the evening: A heavy meal before bed may leave your body busy with digestion instead of focusing on sleep.

  7. Use your bed for sleep and sex: You want to associate your bed with the two activities that should be happening there: sleep and sex. Keep anything else out of the bedroom.


TIP #5: TRY FOODS TO HELP YOU SLEEP

Quality sleep starts with quality food. You heard that right—what you eat during the day has a whole lot to do with a good night’s sleep! What foods can help you sleep?


  1. Try tart cherry juice, goji berries, or raspberries in the evening. They all naturally contain melatonin! Snack on a handful of almonds or walnuts which are also naturally packed with melatonin. Bananas, pineapple, and oranges contain melatonin AND help boost the body’s production of it!

  2. A high-carb meal can boost serotonin and melatonin production. You can learn more about the connection between food and your circadian rhythms, and how serotonin and melatonin work together to help you get enough rest in this post.

Do you have a Sleep Disorder?

If you’ve implemented these healthy sleep habits and you’re still experiencing problems sleeping it may be time to talk to a professional. Not getting enough sleep negatively impacts your health in numerous ways—and undiagnosed sleep disorders may be the culprit.


Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can not only disrupt sleep but can also be putting your life at risk (crazy, right?). So if your sleeping problems have you concerned, best to check in with your doc to run some tests.


Take the First Step toward Better Sleep

You’ve got a big, beautiful life to live! You deserve some healthy sleep so you’ve got plenty of energy and vitality to go after what you want. Take care of your wonderful self by investing in your sleep hygiene and you’ll see the benefits for years to come.


Your turn: Do you ever struggle with sleep? Which tips will you try to improve your sleep hygiene?


Peace and restful Zzzs,

Stacey Gernerd



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