Optimizing Sleep

Niko in bedTo sleep, perchance to Dream…

Most of us spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping–or trying to sleep! (Unless you are lucky enough to be my dog, who gets 12 hours a day!)

One of the first questions I ask my clients is “How is your sleep?” Unfortunately, good sleep seems to escape many folks who eat well and exercise regularly.

We need good sleep to repair our bodies, rejuvenate our skin, (beauty sleep, anyone?) burn body fat and rest our over-active minds.  We also process the days events via dreaming.  Good physical, mental and emotional health requires good sleep.  Sleep  is so important, it even has its own website!

I used to think the less sleep, the better, but I’ve changed my mind over the years, now that I know all the amazing things sleep does for us.  Most of us need 7-9 hours a night, though certainly a few folk can get by with less.  When we are sick or stressed we usually need more sleep.

How can you get better sleep?  Over the years, I’ve learned some essential practices that make my nights restful and restorative.  Try what makes sense to you!


Honor your Sleep Rhythm

Some folk are night owls and if it works for your schedule, go for it!

If you aren’t a night owl, aiming for getting to sleep between 9 & 10 pm can be optimal for many folk, since it ties into our circadian rhythms.

Check out bi-phasic sleep.  Not all of us need to sleep all 8 hours at once!


Nourish your Sleep

Stop all caffeine after 4 pm.  If you are really sensitive, this includes chocolate.

Have some carbs with your last meal of the day.

Avoid alcohol in the evening if it disturbs your sleep.

Make sure your D3 level is sufficient.  Take Vitamin D supplements early in the day.

Take 400-600 mg Magnesium an hour before you want to be sleeping.  Magnesium Citrate works for many Magnesium Glycinate has a less laxative effect.

Gelatin can be useful for relaxing the body, since it contains glycine.  Bone broth or jello, anyone?


Relax your Mind

Stop all electronic media at least 2 hours before sleep time. No computers/TVs in the bedroom.

Cool lights (like the LED screen of your computer trigger the body’s “daytime” mode.  To help ease into sleep, install a free software program called f.lux to change your screen tone from cool to warm as the evening progesses.  Many people have found that wearing blue-blocking glasses helps to eliminate all impact of cool lights in the evening.  The Uvex brand is highly recommended.

Read fiction before sleep.  Non-fiction engages the brain too much and it can be hard to relax from that state.

If you can’t keep your bedroom dark enough, invest in a sleep mask.  I like this one.

Have some earplugs handy for the times your neighbor’s dog just won’t stop barking!


Comfort your Body

Keep your bedroom cool.  Most folk need the room to be under 70 degrees F to be comfortable through the night.

Add some white noise, if you need to.   Recordings of ocean waves can be restful.

If you are a restless sleeper, and sleep with a partner or children, let each person have their own duvet, European-style.  Co-sleeping parents of infants may find this site helpful.

Make sure you have a pillow that suits your sleep style.

Sweet Dreams, everyone!






2 Responses to “Optimizing Sleep”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. barb says:

    Great post! You mention eating some carbs with the last meal of the day – can you give a few examples so I can get an idea of quantity and good carbs – I am primal/paleo.


    • Sondra Rose says:

      Thanks, Barb!

      Starchy root vegetables, sweet potatoes, potatoes, fruit, or honey. Quantity is going to be trial and error for each person, since our carb tolerances vary greatly. Start with a small amount, perhaps even a teaspoon of honey in a cup of herbal tea, and see how you feel.