5 Ways to Sleep Deeper Tonight
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our health, with our body performing many vital functions during this period. Sleep hygiene—encompassing all of our habits that affect how we sleep, when we sleep and how optimized our circadian rhythm is—is more important than ever. With many of us staring into screens late into the night, having a less than optimized eating schedule, and other habits related to our modern lifestyles, it’s no wonder why so many of us struggle with achieving a good night's sleep.
The primary part of our body to suffer from lack of sleep is our brain. During sleep, our brain not only absorbs and integrates all of the inputs of the day, but toxins are also flushed from it. As you can imagine, malfunctions in these functions can create a host of problems—not limited to decreased immune function, increase in stress hormones, imbalances in appetite and blood sugar, and increase in inflammation. Improving our sleep hygiene is a sure-fire way to improve all areas of your health and wellness, and these 5 Ways to Sleep Deeper Tonight are a great, low-barrier start!
1. Avoid Bright Lights & Dim Necessary Lights
It’s best to avoid bright lights for 2 hours before bed. If you have to work close to bedtime, dim your office lights and shut off any fluorescent lights. I highly recommend swapping a few of the lamps in your house to amber light bulbs.
Before looking at your TV, laptop, phone, or tablet, make sure you have dimmed them and turned on the warm setting. Even just 5 minutes of white light from a screen can significantly impact your sleep, shutting off your melatonin production for 4 hours. This is the real reason why a lot of people experience increased energy in the evening! Note: I recommend downloading F.Lux - an app for your computer that automatically changes your computer light from white to amber in coordination with the sunset.
Blue blockers can be a great investment - although not every product is equal to the other. In my experience, Swanwick Sleep make, by far, the most effective blue-blocking shades (use code BEN10 for a discount on a pair of Swannies) and recently, I’ve been really happy with these shades from Amazon.
2. Winding Down
Within an hour of going to bed, set aside time to wind down and reflect on the day. Two of my favorite breathing techniques to promote relaxation are long, deep breathing, or alternate nostril breathing for a couple of minutes. For both, I recommend sitting cross-legged, sitting on a pillow if that is more comfortable for you.
I have also had clients achieve much success listening to meditations on iTunes (Podcasts App). Both Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield’s talks and meditations are suitable right before bed, and any time of day when you need to take some time to yourself.
Another beneficial practice is setting aside 10 minutes to journal about your day, jot down your reflections, and even write about your intentions for tomorrow. Journaling helps you stay present with your experience, connect with your true intentions, and remind you to act in alignment with what’s important to you. If you are new to journaling or are simply having a hard time identifying what to write, I highly recommend purchasing The 5-Minute Journal, which can help guide you in your reflections.
Magnesium and Zinc
Magnesium helps reduce stress and regulate melatonin, which in turn improves deep sleep. I recommend Thorne’s Magnesium Bisglycinate supplement. The benefit of bisglycinate over the more common magnesium citrate, is the elimination of nearly all GI distress. Magnesium in doses of 500mg and higher are tremendous for sleep, however, if you take that much citrate you may need to cancel your morning meetings! Note: Given the increased cost of bisglycinate, you could combine the two (taking 200mg of citrate with 200mg of biglycinate, for example).
Zinc is often paired with magnesium in many sleep supplements, and for good reason! These two work together to relax your muscles and improve your recovery from your daily exercise and output. I recommend Thorne’s Zinc Picolinate (30mg). I take 2-3 capsules each night. You can purchase both here.
5-HTP is a compound that can help promote deeper sleep, and through increasing serotonin, can result in feelings of happiness, relaxation, and even satiety, helping with food cravings and emotional eating.
CBD has received much attention in recent years—again, for good reason. It has been shown to have incredible effects on inflammation throughout the body, as well as promote feelings of relaxation and general wellbeing. A couple of nights a week, I’ll take a 30mg serving of liposomal CBD, or up to 4 capsules of Thorne’s hemp oil. Note: Most CBD products come in a 5-10mg dose, so for sleep, treat yourself with a double or triple dose.
A Vitamin D deficiency will severely impact sleep quality. I recommend taking a vitamin D3/K2 supplement, as K2 must be taken with Vitamin D to limit risk of high blood calcium. Thorne makes a liquid D/K2 which is small and easy to carry with you on the go. Although you can, you do not need to take this directly before bed, any time of the day is fine.
4. Limit exposure to EMFs, WiFi & Electronic Devices
The waves generated from your wireless router are disruptive to your health and your sleep. While it may be unavoidable during the day due to needing to use WiFi and your phone to do your job, you can’t argue that you need WiFi while you sleep. Minimizing your exposure when you can is essential for better sleep, and for lowering your risk of cancer and other diseases that are increasingly being linked to EMF exposure.
So limit your exposure to EMFs while you sleep—while you can’t control your neighbor’s wifi, turn yours off at night anyway. Your phone also receives and emits signals while it is on, so make sure to turn it off or at the very least, put it on Airplane Mode while you sleep.
5. Bedroom Conditions
Sleeping in complete darkness makes a world of difference when it comes to sleep quality. I highly recommend purchasing good black-out curtains for your bedroom to maximize your body’s melatonin production. Any light, even the moon shining through your window or a faint light from a neighbor’s house, can disrupt your melatonin production. For any small electronic light sources in your bedroom (such as a space heater or AC), cover the light with thick matte tape.
Keeping your room cool at night also has a positive effect on sleep quality. When your bedroom is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, wakefulness is more common and you are less likely to experience the deeper stages of sleep. For most people, the perfect temperature for a great night of sleep is 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
To optimize your circadian rhythm, it is generally better to work out earlier in the day. If you work out in the afternoon, make sure to schedule it at least 3 hours before your bedtime. It is also recommended to save your carbs for the end of the day, and eat most of your fats (especially saturated fats) around mid-day. Eating carbs at night can help your body sleep deeper and also ensures that you don’t wake up feeling hungry. To promote extra relaxation at night, I recommend purchasing an essential oil diffuser and buying a dedicated sleep or relaxation blend.