The Secret to Deeper Sleep

Tracking food, exercise, weight, and now sleep on our cell phones, smart watches, or smart mattresses has become a cultural obsession. Getting enough sleep has been associated with getting sick less often, maintaining a healthy weight, lower risk of chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease, reduced stress, and improved mood.  Here are practical approaches to getting a better night’s rest:

  1. Don’t go to bed on an empty or an overly full stomach. The American Sleep Institute recommends sleep time begins four hours after your last meal so that your body can complete digestion. Dine early, stop drinking two hours before you go to bed, and avoid alcohol to ensure better sleep.
  2. Turn the lights off. Power down all electronics or switch to ‘night mode’, and turn off the lights. Exposure to blue light waves from screens and household lighting interrupt your natural circadian rhythms by suppressing the release of melatonin, a natural hormone our bodies produce in the presence of darkness.
  3. Breathe. Breathing can help calm anxiety, settle the restless mind, relax the body, and decrease adrenalin and cortisol, stress hormones that may keep you from a deep sleep. Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique by Dr. Andrew Weil.
  4. Exercise regularly. Look to workouts like yoga or pilates which lengthen, strengthen, and stretch your muscles, as part of your bedtime routine.
  5. Regulate your internal clock. Depend on your internal clock rather than focusing on an alarm clock. Clocks can trigger the mind to quantify sleep and create anxiety weigh makes it more difficult to fall asleep. If you wake in the middle of the night, healthcare professionals advise not looking at a clock. Rather relax with soft music, pray, or read until you feel drowsy enough to fall back asleep. Stick to the same sleep time and wake time, even on the weekends.
  6. Stop thinking and Relax. Health professionals recommend winding down at least one hour before bedtime. Create a bedtime ritual, such as washing up, brushing your teeth, meditating, and/or writing in a journal, that will get you to bed on time and stress free.

10 Reasons You’re Not Getting a Good Night’s Sleep




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