By Dr. Rehan Lakhani, ND
Your quality of sleep can determine how the rest of your day will go. If you don’t feel well rested and refreshed, your productivity is likely to be low. This can lead to adverse affects in both your personal and professional life.
There are many factors that influence your quality of sleep. Hormonal imbalances, emotional & psychological state, and medication side effects are all elements that can contribute to a good night’s sleep but are often hard to change. Here are some small and easy changes to implement in your nighttime routine to help you sleep better.
1. LIMIT SCREEN TIME IN THE EVENING
Your phones, laptops, and other digital devices use blue light to illuminate their screens. Although blue wavelengths are actually quite healthy for you during the day, when the sun starts to set they can be harmful to your body. Blue wavelengths help your body stay alert and boost your mood while the sun is up. However, when the sun goes down they become disruptive to your body’s circadian rhythm. As the sun sets and darkness envelopes your surroundings, your body knows it is time to prepare for sleep.
The blue light your screens emit disrupt this process by making you stay alert for longer. Try a blue-light filter app on your devices and limit screen time 60 minutes before bed.
2. STICK TO A STRICT SLEEP ROUTINE
Your body follows a biological clock known as your circadian rhythm, that is influenced by many internal and external factors. But did you know that your clock could be “broken”? In general, you should try and follow a strict sleep schedule in order to fix your broken clock. Not only does this help keep your circadian rhythm running smoothly, it also helps with your overall quality of life. By going to bed around the same time every night and getting between 7-9 hours of sleep everyday, you are increasing your overall health and improving your energy.
On weekends most people want to stay up late and sleep in, but did you know that getting into the habit of this can disrupt your whole week, and in turn increase your chances of disease? To improve your quality of sleep, alertness, and energy during the day, set a realistic sleep schedule and stick to it. It may be a challenge at first, but in the long run it will help you live a long and healthy life!
3. IMPROVE GUT MICROBIOME & LOWER STRESS
Your gut microbiome is crucial for your overall health. If you gut has more bad bacteria than good bacteria, not only will it lead to digestive issues, it will also affect your quality of sleep. Acid reflux and indigestion are just some of the issues caused by an unhealthy gut microbiome that can interrupt a good night’s sleep. If you are continually facing digestive issues, it can lead to more serious consequences down the road. In order to support a healthy gut microbiome, we recommend botanical medicine, evidence based supplementation, and functional foods
Probiotics and Omega-3 supplementation are easy ways to help increase good bacteria in the gut. You can also use functional foods like kombucha or yogurt to help improve digestion, thus improving your sleep. Another way to manage digestive and sleep issues is to lower stress. Chronic stress adversely affects your cortisol cycle which in turn throws off your sleep cycle. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” and plays an integral role in regulating your sleep schedule so by lowering your daily stress, you’re helping to improve your sleep cycle and decrease digestive issues.
4. DRINK MEDICINAL TEAS
If you are having issues falling asleep in the evening, herbal teas may be a great choice for you. Teas that contain medicinal properties are easy to find (local grocery stores) and even easier to make. If you are looking for a tea that has calming, sedative effects look for teas that contain chamomile, lavender, passion flower, hops, skullcap, or oat straw.
These teas will help you fall asleep in no time! Make sure to steep the tea for at least 20 minutes, covered in order to get the benefits of the medicinal properties. Drink the tea an hour before you plan to go to sleep and then enjoy a peaceful night’s rest!
If you are struggling with sleep and it feels like it’s beyond your control, see a healthcare professional. With simple lifestyle changes designed just for you, your sleep can improve significantly! Book a complimentary consult today to see how Naturopathic Medicine can help you get back to feeling well rested and energized.