Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
Patients are always asking me for tips to help them get to sleep faster and feel more rested. I thought putting this in a blog would help a lot of people be able to have a better night’s sleep.
- First and most important is to turn off all computers, ipads, phones, and TV’s at least 30 minutes to an hour prior to trying to go to sleep. These devices transmit “blue light” which is a shorter wavelength light which has been shown to decrease the brain’s ability to produce melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone released by the brain to help us fall asleep.
- Have a nightly routine. Try to turn everything off at the same time each night. Start the wind down process at the same time each night and try to fall asleep at the same time. On the weekends, try not to sleep in too late or go to bed too late as it will alter your routine during the week.
- Exercise daily. 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day has been shown to help increase the time spent in REM sleep or deep sleep. This is the most restful sleep and the helps boost immune function and support cardiac health.
- Proper sleeping positions. It is very important to sleep in the right position. If you are tossing or turning all night trying to get comfortable it will prevent the brain from reaching REM sleep. The best position to sleep in for spinal health is on the back with 1 pillow under knees and only 1 pillow under the head. Using 2-3 pillows under the head can push the head and neck forward straining the muscles in the neck and shoulders and lead to symptoms of neck tightness/stiffness and headaches. The 2nd best position to sleep in is on the side. If on your side have a pillow between your knees which will help keep the pelvis and lumbar spine in a neutral position. Again only 1 pillow under the head and neck to avoid misalignments.
- Avoid sugar and caffeine. Lastly avoid any food or drinks high in sugar or caffeine at least 2 hours prior to going to bed. These are nervous system stimulants that will increase energy, not what you want prior to going to sleep.
Find alternatives to sugary drinks here: The 4/11 on Sugary Beverages and Alternatives.
Hopefully these tips are helpful if you are having trouble going or staying asleep. If you want a more thorough evaluation of what might be preventing you from sleeping, make an appointment to meet with one of our providers to have a full work up. Underlying causes of unbalanced hormones can be evaluated with specific blood and saliva testing we perform in our office.