2. Avoid blue light for better sleep
What is blue light? It’s the light that is emitted from your tv, computer, iPad, or phone. Blue light from devices block the production of melatonin. Melatonin is our sleep hormone, it’s naturally created in our body at the end of the day signaling to our body to quiet down. If you are using devices later in the evening, it’s going to be harder to transition to sleep once you turn your show off, or stop answering emails.
There’s two ways to fix the issue. The best way is to stop using electronics 1-2 hours before bed. Two is best, but I agree that it’s really tough! You can use your Kindle Paperwhite device as it doesn’t emit blue light.
The other option is to use blue light blocking glasses a couple of hours before turning off the light. Combining this with using a “night time” setting on your phone, or f.lux on your computer, will help reduce the effect of the blue light on your melatonin production.
Note, bright lights in general also reduce sleep quality.(1) We have what I call “quiet lights” in all my kids rooms, and on our nightstands. In the evening, we avoid turning on the overhead lights to help signal to our bodies to quiet down and settle in for the night.
3. Stay hydrated to improve sleep
Everyone tends to get dehydrated during the night, so it’s super important to avoid starting in a deficit. This means you can’t ignore the need for water in the evening hours. Yes, you may need to get up to pee later, but not necessarily. Plus, if you are following these tips, your body will be ready to fall back asleep faster. (If you are not falling back to sleep at night, please reach out for a coaching consultation as it can indicate a hormonal imbalance.)
If you have a glass of wine or a beer at night, you need to counter those drinks with extra hydrating fluids. This obviously includes water, but also herbal teas, coconut water, or non-dairy milks. Alcohol also can disrupt your sleep, so think about limiting alcohol use to the weekends. Also, if you wine has added sugar in it, it may be why you are waking up after a couple of hours. The sugar crash is messing up your sleep cycle resulting in poor sleep. Swap out your wine for one without added sugar to improve your sleep.
4. Lower the temperature
Keeping your room cool at night may help you fall asleep faster and enter the deeper stages of sleep sooner. You want to keep the room temperature at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. If your body temperature is too warm, it can cause insomnia.
Another way to achieve better sleep is to shower at night. The rise in body temperature, and then the cooling action, can also help induce better sleep hygiene. Getting into deep REM sleep is the goal, and lowering the temperature is a great action to take.
5. Use a journal or gratitude practice
Many of us suffer from what I call “popcorn brain.” Mothers especially have so many things to remember for their children, home, social, and work life. With so much of that stored in our heads, we often need to spend a little time doing a brain dump.
There are two different practices I suggest to my clients. The first is to have a notebook near your bed so you can write out all the random thoughts in your head. You can refer back to it as a to-do list in the morning, or just use the space to journal about your day, emotions, or anything else you just need to get out of your head.
A second option is to use a gratitude journal. By ending our day being thankful for small, joyous moments in our day, we start off the evening in a good head space. Instead of focusing on what’s ahead, we can be present and show gratitude for getting through the day. Some days it may be enough to be grateful for a bed to sleep in. That’s okay, we’ve all had those days. Acknowledge it, and move on.
6. Find the right Essential Oil
There are a number of different oils that can help support better sleep. It will be a little different for everyone, and it requires some trial and error. Here is my list of oils worth trying to help support sleep. These oils are selected for their ability to promote relaxation and sleep. Some are better for women during certains time of their cycle as well.
Essential oils are an incredible way to help change your sleep patterns.
I’ve seen it work in adults and also my own children. You can diffuse the oils, or rub them into the bottom of your feet. The ritual of using aromatherapy in your sleep routine can be a trigger to help your body unwind each night. You can read more about my favorite essential oils for better health, or contact me to schedule a consultation of how to embrace them in your own routines.
7. CBD Oil for Better Sleep
One of the newer trends in the sleep health scene is the use of CBD oil at night. It’s really a supplement that has been around for 5000 years, but only recently is being added back into our worlds as hemp and cannabis are legalized.
CBD stands for Cannabidiol oil, and nearly everyone can now order their own supplement in the US. (check your state for details.) CBD is one of over 100+ cannabinoids that are responsible for the therapeutic properties found in cannabis and hemp. CBD is widely known for its healing components and is used to treat a variety of conditions. CBD oil that is hemp derived is an easy place to start when using it to improve your sleep.
One of the most common ways that people consume CBD is through a tincture, which is fancy for an oil base. Tinctures are placed under your tongue, held for a brief period, and then swallowed. Tinctures are easy to take, easy to store, and can come in different flavors, making them tasty to consume. There are many different tinctures on the market, coming in different sizes and concentrations. They vary in how the CBD is grown, extracted, and tested so you need to understand how to shop for quality. CBD oil can be contaminated with pesticides and heavy metals so look for ones with testing reports available.
The hemp-derived CBD oil I have used for sleep, reducing inflammation, and reducing anxiety is from Charlotte’s Web. (I get mine shipped from Thrive Market ) You can order it in different doses, flavors, it also comes as a balm or salve option which I have used to help maintain skin revitalization and conditioning on my tennis elbow. Charlotte’s Web CBD oil is high quality, thoroughly tested, and used broad spectrum cannabinoids.
CBD Oil versus Whole Flower Cannabis
There is another alternative, and that includes the whole flower plant. This will include some of the THC that is found in medicinal marijuana plants. You can get licenses to purchase it, or you can find it available in specific states. (like Massachusetts, at NETA in Brookline.) It can be a game changer, especially for women with decreasing estrogen levels. Please contact me directly if you have questions, or would like to be connected to a medicinal cannabis consultant. For further reading, I suggest the book Healing with CBD.
8. Keep a Set Bedtime for Better Sleep
Even though you know it’s the weekend, your body doesn’t. The closer you stick to the same bedtime and wake up time each day will make a huge impact on the quality of your sleep. Also, our body does a ton of the detoxification I mentioned earlier in the hours BEFORE midnight, so it’s key to hit the pillow on the early side.
If you find yourself waking up at night at a certain time, keep track of it. It can often explain food intolerances or allergies, hormonal imbalances, or a blocked liver.
9. Avoid Caffeine
We all metabolize caffeine differently. You may have a friend who can have an after-dinner coffee and still go right to sleep, whereas you will be staring at the ceiling for hours. The recommendation is to avoid caffeine in the afternoon, as it can still be in your system for 6 hours. Your friend that may be able to fall asleep will suffer as caffeine makes them more alert, and their sleep more shallow. Remember, it’s the deep REM sleep we are looking for.
When you start to drag in the afternoon, often it’s because you are dehydrated. Grab your favorite water bottle and fill up! If you are on a deadline, opt for a green tea which has less caffeine, health benefits, and L-theanine to help avoid the jitters.
10. Melatonin can improve sleep quality
Remember I said melatonin is naturally produced as we slow down at night? Sometimes our body just isn’t making enough. Oral melatonin supplements may help alleviate insomnia, improve sleep quality (including in children (3)) It can also help fight jet lag, and so is especially popular for business travelers.
Melatonin can be a great alternative for men and women trying to get off of Ambien. I have seen success with melatonin use, combined with essential oils, for better sleep. Finding the right dosage is important, so start low and slow. The entry level is 3mg for adults, and then goes up to 10mg. If you find it works for you, just remember to take a break every couple of months so you body doesn’t rely 100% on an added substance. I have seen 5mg of melatonin work for many women trying to improve their sleep.
- Skeldon AC, Phillips AJ, Dijk DJ. The effects of self-selected light-dark cycles and social constraints on human sleep and circadian timing: a modeling approach . Sci Rep. (2017)
- Kayumov L, et al. Blocking low-wavelength light prevents nocturnal melatonin suppression with no adverse effect on performance during simulated shift work . J Clin Endocrinol Metab. (2005)
- van Geijlswijk IM, et al. Evaluation of sleep, puberty and mental health in children with long-term melatonin treatment for chronic idiopathic childhood sleep onset insomnia . Psychopharmacology (Berl). (2011)