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15 Tips for Better Sleep


Updated: Aug 28

A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. It is one of the six pillars of leading a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is not just passive, there are several active processes occurring during sleep. It helps with body healing, DNA repair, proper functioning of the immune system and emotional regulation, just to name a few. Impaired sleep leads to:

Elevated blood pressure and increased cardiovascular mortality risk

  1. Increase in cytokine IL-10, which can be cancer promoting
  2. Lower resistance to illness
  3. Impaired learning
  4. Mood swings
  5. Decrease alertness and cognitive processing speed
  6. Lower leptin hormone levels (which increases caloric uptake by up to 20%)
  7. High blood sugar levels

Unfortunately, sleep time and sleep quality have decreased over the past few decades. Poor sleep and insomnia are very common complaints that I hear in my practice. Here are some tips to help with your sleep. This list is not exhaustive, and there are specific recommendations for different types of sleep issues (examples: delayed sleep onset, waking too early, fragmented sleep in the middle of the night).

Here are my tips

  1. Establish a regular bedtime and bedtime routine. Have a wind-down routine to let your body know its time to relax and go to sleep that starts 1-1.5 hours before bedtime.
  2. Wake around the same time every day (within 1 hour). This helps keep our body clock (circadian rhythm) on schedule
  3. Increase daytime exposure to bright light/daylight. Light suppresses melatonin, which is the hormone that increases drowsiness to initiate sleep.
  4. Increase daytime activity, but avoid exercise 2 hours before bed
  5. Use your bed for sleeping and intimacy only
  6. Decrease exposure to blue light at night by turning off TVs and electronic devices or wearing blue light blocking glasses. Blue light suppresses melatonin the most, which is the hormone that increases drowsiness to initiate sleep. Other sources of blue light come from CFL, LED or halogen lights.
  7. Limit caffeine to the morning only.
  8. Avoid alcohol 3 hours before bedtime
  9. Eliminate after dinner and late-night snacking
  10. Drink plenty of fluids during the day, but limit liquids within 2 hours of bedtime
  11. If you nap, limit your nap to 30 minutes or less and not after 3 PM
  12. Make your bedroom a sleep oasis. Minimize noise and lights in your bedroom. Also, have your bedroom on the cooler side.
  13. To mitigate nighttime planning/worrying, keep a journal next to your bed
  14. Have your alarm clock out of sight
  15. Practice mindfulness. For those that wake in the middle of the night, mindfulness or progressive relaxation can help calm the mind and allow you to go back to sleep.

These tips will help you get a better night’s sleep. If you have further sleep concerns, please discuss these with your primary care physician.