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7 Tips for a Great Night’s Sleep

4 Pillars Functional Medicine – Relaxation Pillar IconWhen is the last time you had great sleep for several nights in a row, or even one good night’s sleep?

Sleep is crucial to your health; in fact, our survival depends on it.  So much goes on in the body during sleep but one thing I like to focus on is that is a key time your body heals itself.  Thus, if you are working on reversing symptoms or a chronic illness, without sleep, all the other things you are doing may not work very well.

It’s pretty easy in our complex, technology-driven, 24-7 society to develop sleep problems.  Once your sleep patterns get disrupted, the problems can last for years without a proactive approach.

What about sleeping pills, you might ask?  I’m sure you know lots of people that take them, or maybe you do as well.  What you might not realize its that sleeping pills almost never continue to work and most people within months or years have worse sleeping problems than before starting the medications.  Furthermore, sleeping pills are associated with increased death, increased memory loss, driving problems, daytime fatigue and a host of other problems.

Getting good consistent sleep doesn’t happen without a plan.  We always need to make some adjustments in our routine to be successful.  The great part is that once we develop a routine that works well, getting a great night’s sleep becomes the norm and everything else in your life and your health improves.

So what steps can we take?  While there are a lots of things we can do that help us have great, consistent sleep, I find it’s best to pick just a couple things to implement first, and see how you do.  Often, a few small changes can give great results and then you can keep adding in new tools.

So here are my top seven tips and I recommend just picking a couple to start…

  1. Literally put your sleep time on your daily schedule.  Block off 8-9 hours for being in bed.
  2. Avoid caffeine-containing beverages or foods after 2 PM, or if extra sensitive to caffeine, avoid it after 12 noon
  3. Avoid all screens or electronic devices for the hour prior to getting into bed.  If you do read on a screen, use the night mode features, or wear glasses that block out all blue light.
  4. Write down any persistent thoughts prior to starting your bedtime routine.  You don’t have to have solutions to any issues, but putting those thoughts on paper can help quiet your thoughts down at sleep time.
  5. Do 10-15 minutes of relaxing yoga, mindfulness breathing, or another relaxation method just prior to getting into bed.
  6. Don’t stay in bed awake for more than 20-30 minutes trying to fall asleep (or fall back asleep).  Rather, if it’s been about that long, leave the room and go to a calm, neutral spot in the house and read or doing a relaxation technique.
  7. Avoid as many or all non-sleep activities in bed.  This includes reading, watching TV, working on your laptop, having extended conversations, etc.  If you read prior to bed, do it somewhere else besides in bed.  A different room or even a chair next to your bed is perfect.

4 Pillars Functional Medicine – 7 Tips for a Great Night's Sleep

Oh, I promised a bonus tip…

Did you know sex is great at improving sleep?

This is primarily due to hormone changes that occur with sex.  Sex increases oxytocin (a hormone that increases connection with your partner) and decreases cortisol (a hormone released when you are stressed).  Also, having an orgasm increases prolactin, another hormone that can make you feel calm and ready for sleep.

Let us know which of these work well for you and be sure and give the community your helpful tips for a great nights sleep.

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David Gordon

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