I visited my fabulous Naturopathic Intern at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic (RSNC) after finishing my midterm exam on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, I was tired and lacking energy. With the late night study sessions, my sleep routine has not been optimal and so my intern gave me a great hand-out on 8 Healthy Sleep:
- Establish a bed-time and wake-time routine. Go to bed 15 min earlier each night until you are going to bed by 11pm and staying asleep for 7-9 hrs.
- Make your room as dark as possible: When light touches the skin it reduces the amount of melatonin produced and alters the natural sleep cycle.
- Open your blinds and allow natural light into the room upon waking. As the light hits the skin, melatonin decreases and serotonin secretion is stimulated (daytime hormone). Even 20 minutes of natural sunlight will improve your mood.
- Caffeine – in the morning only. Caffeine can take up to 10 hours to be metabolized by the body. When caffeine is consumed later in the day, cortisol secretion increases waking in the night.
- Avoid stimulating activities before bed. Eating large meals, refined carbohydrates, or alcohol before bed will stimulate metabolism and impair the ability to fall and stay asleep. Exercise, watching TV and working on the computer late at night also acts as a stimulant and reduces melatonin release.
- Keep lights and electronics off if you wake in the middle of the night. If you wake up and cannot fall back asleep, get up for a while but keep the lights dim and TV and computer off.
- Develop a calming bedtime routine. Soft music, meditation, deep breathing can be a cue to help your body and mind relax.
- Make a to–do list or try writing in a journal. If you lie awake at night and can’t stop thinking, write down your thoughts and feelings on a notepad or in a journal.
Sleep is so important for the body’s natural ability to heal and for improving mood. Sleep deprivation can cause an excess in cortisol secretion while decreasing levels of melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone) and growth hormone. These hormonal imbalances further disrupt the body’s ability to obtain adequate restful sleep.
The Hormone Diet (2010), Natasha Turner
Try some of these Healthy Sleep Habits and let me know how they work. Do you have any sleep tips? Please share them below.