Sleep isn’t just for the lazy and it’s critical for health that we get better sleep. We all need a solid night’s rest regularly because there is no gold medal for the person who gets the least sleep. In our fast-paced society where people neglect to take care of their priorities, many people are cheating themselves of rest and in the long run that means they are cheating their health.
So many people don’t realize the impact their sleep can have but it’s true. I get asked all the time by patients, “what can I do to improve my health?” The simplest answer is healthy sleep because it is such a critical foundation of your health. If you don’t sleep, you don’t heal. Your body needs to rest because it supports regenerative processes along with healthy hormones, your brain wave activity and other biological processes. That’s where supporting your circadian rhythm comes in.
Why’s Circadian Rhythm Important?
All living creatures are dependent on their circadian rhythm for biological functions. It’s an internal clock that determines physiological functions over the course of about 24 hours that includes sleep and eating. There are internal factors like hormones that impact your circadian rhythm and external factors like light and temperature. A healthy circadian rhythm means your body increases cortisol in the morning to wake you up to get you going and it drops throughout the day when it is time to wind down. Supporting your circadian rhythm and healthy sleep habits set you up for good health.
8 Tips to Get Better Sleep
1 – Set an Early Bedtime
If you go to bed by 9 or even 10 regularly it will have a dramatic impact on your health. Especially women whose hormones are more impacted when they don’t get enough sleep. Men don’t need quite as much as women, but they will just wake up earlier which is a good thing. If you can’t fall asleep right away, just keep trying because eventually you will.
2 – Get Inverted
Inversion is a great way to help you sleep better. An easy way to do this is with an inversion table and you can usually find them second hand for cheap. When you are inverted it takes pressure off your adrenal glands and your heart, setting you up for good rest. Don’t want to invest in an inversion table? Try yoga poses or elevate your feet to relieve insomnia.
3 – Do a Pulse Check
Do you hear your heartbeat in your ear when you lay your head on your pillow at night? That could be a sign of low potassium or magnesium. Both of these important minerals are needed to regulate biological functions and having sufficient levels can help you sleep. Make sure you are eating loads of leafy greens to get sufficient levels. Eating your vegetables is the cheapest way to get these minerals or you can purchase supplements.
4 – Try CBD Oil
No matter how much I say that reducing stress is important for health and sleep there are still many who can’t control the stress in their lives. CBD oil has many benefits, including reducing stress and relieving insomnia. Here’s some tips for choosing a CBD oil or try my favorite CBD oil (It’s Wellness Way so I make sure it’s quality).
5 – Sleep in Total Darkness
Light affects your circadian rhythm. If you want to get the best sleep then you need to sleep in total darkness. Get blackout curtains, block lights from any electrical devices and keep your devices out of the bedroom. Yes, we are all addicted to our phone, tablets and TVs but these don’t belong in the bedroom. Skip the electronics 30 minutes before bed to avoid the light stimulation, insomnia, and reduction of melatonin.
6 – Skip the Alarms
Who likes the sound of an alarm clock? No one! Throw it out and find a different option like a light clock or music to wake up slowly to. When you use an alarm clock you startle yourself awake which spikes your cortisol. It’s not good for your hormonal rhythm and definitely not a pleasant or healthy way to wake up.
7 – Practice Grounding
There are so many benefits to grounding and good sleep is one of them. Some people call it earthing. No matter what you call it, it’s as simple as getting outside and getting your barefeet on natural ground whether it’s the grass or beach. When you ground you transfer the electroactivity of the ground to your body. This helps regulate your cortisol levels and helps you sleep better by normalizing your circadian rhythm.
8 – Get Tested
Are you a night owl and this sleeping at night sounds crazy to you? You need to get your hormones tested. Your body was meant to rest at night. Do you wake up at 2 am to get a snack? You need to get your insulin and blood sugar tested. Needing to get out of bed and eat is a sign of hormone dysregulation. Do you have significant trouble sleeping? There is no way to know what is going on unless you get tested. By talking to a proficient provider, you can determine what testing is right for you. Cortisol, melatonin, hormones, and insulin all contribute to a healthy circadian rhythm and physical function.
Take Care of Yourself and Get Better Sleep
Getting a good night’s rest can set you up for a great day or getting poor sleep can make for a very bad day. Consistently getting poor sleep can lead to serious health outcomes and can inhibit your body’s ability to adapt. Don’t let restless nights be your normal and instead use these tips to get better sleep. Healthy sleep habits means a healthier you.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn