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5 Healthy Sleep Habits

Holistic and Functional Medicine Doctor's Approach to Health, Wellness, and Healthy Sleep Habits
A Holistic and Functional Medicine Approach to Healthy Sleep Habits.

Are you trying to prioritize your health, but it’s not coming as easily as you thought? You’ve been working on improving your overall diet, but you’re still struggling with fatigue, mood swings, stress, brain fog, sugar cravings, and headaches. One key factor that might be contributing to these symptoms is your sleep (or lack thereof).

Maybe you're struggling to fall asleep; all of today’s events and tomorrow’s responsibilities are running through your mind making it difficult to wind down. Perhaps you fall asleep quickly, but you wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time falling back asleep. Regardless, you find yourself exhausted in the morning, hitting the snooze button more times than you’d like, and are in dire need of caffeine to function. You feel run down most of the day, but every time you hop back into bed, you’re experiencing the same problems all over again.

You’ve tried the basics – no caffeine after noon time, turn down the thermostat at night, and don’t drink a full glass of water before bed. Although these are all great tips, you’re still struggling to improve your sleep.

You need some of the lesser known, best-kept sleep habits to incorporate into your routine to help you feel rested and ready to take on the day. We know how frustrating elusive sleep can be, which is why we are sharing our top sleep hacks with you.

Ready to fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up refreshed? Try incorporating these 5 sleep habits into your routine for a difference you can feel.

1. Soak In The Sunshine

Your body runs on a circadian rhythm, a 24-hour cycle that regulates when you are awake and when you fall asleep. Part of what helps your body maintain a healthy wake and sleep cycle is sunlight.

Sun exposure tells your body to suppress melatonin in the morning, our body's sleep hormone, helping you become more energized during the day. Likewise, watching the sun go down and experiencing less light tells our body to release melatonin, allowing us to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Try getting sunshine on your eyes within 30 minutes of waking up, even if its just for a few minutes. If possible, try and go for a short walk during sunset for a better night's sleep .

2. Disconnect From Technology

This brings us to our second, and possibly hardest tip - turn off screens an hour or two before bedtime. The longer you’re away from screens before bed, the better.

Light is an important cue for our body to know when to go to sleep. Even artificial light can trick our bodies into thinking we are meant to stay up later, suppressing melatonin from being released. That is why it can be so darn difficult to fall asleep right after looking at a screen. Not to mention all the stress and emotions that are often being shown to us every few seconds on social media.

Try turning off screens 1-2 hours before bed. Instead of watching tv or scrolling instagram, find a relaxing activity such as reading a book, playing a game, listening to a podcast, or playing some music to wind down your night.

If screens before bed are non-negotiable, I highly suggest investing in blue light blocking glasses. I put these glasses on after sunset each night to help my body start preparing for bed.

3. Balance Your Blood Sugar

Even if you don’t struggle with diabetes, having healthy blood sugar is important for many reasons, one being sleep. When our blood sugar is low, our body increases cortisol and adrenaline to signal our body to increase blood sugar. The rise in cortisol and adrenaline will cause you to wake up regardless of how tired you are. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night hungry, nauseous, dizzy, shaky, or emotional, that may be a sign your blood sugar is in need of attention.

One way to start balancing blood sugar is to eat balanced meals throughout the day. This means eating proteins, fat, and carbs together (try not to eat carbs alone). Blood sugar regulation can be tricky, so be sure to work with your functional medicine practitioner before making any drastic diet, lifestyle, or supplement changes.

4. Write Out Your Thoughts

If one of your biggest struggles is shutting off your mind when your head hits the pillow, this trick is for you! Your body needs time to process the emotions of the day. If you’re someone who is go-go-go and hasn’t been able to create space to process those emotions, they will flood your mind the second you take a moment to rest.

By taking even 5-10 minutes to write down all your thoughts from today and all your worries and to-dos for tomorrow, you will find your mind is able to relax much faster when you shut off the lights. This not only helps you sleep, but has been shown to reduce anxiety.

5. Reduce EMFs

EMFs are electromagnetic fields that are produced from technology that is turned on around us. The closer you are to an electronic item, the stronger the electromagnetic field and the more you will be affected. Electromagnetic fields produce vibrations that affect our bodies and have been linked to decreased immune function, hormone dysregulation, oxidative stress, and decreased melatonin production. So what’s the solution? Unplug and turn off as much as possible (within reason).

Here are some of the biggest culprits of EMFs to reduce before going to bed:

1. Turn off your home wifi

2. Put your phone on airplane mode (or turn off completely if it isn’t your alarm clock)

3. If you keep your phone charging overnight in your bedroom, try to put your phone as far away from your bed as possible

4. Keep all electronics at least 3 feet away from your bed, including air purifiers, humidifiers, sound machines, and electronic alarm clocks.

5. Don’t keep an electric bed plugged in overnight – adjust it as desired and then unplug.

Bonus: If you really want to reduce EMF exposure throughout the day, you can invest in EMF remediation devices for your electronics and home.

Creating New Habits Can Be A Challenge

Remember to give yourself grace and do your best. It’s better to make small steps forward than to try one big leap and fall back to where you started. As you begin to regularly add these habits into your daily routine, you’ll start to notice yourself waking up refreshed, having more energy, more stable moods, and feeling better throughout your whole day.

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Want some accountability in your health journey? Doing all the right things and still not seeing an improvement? Overwhelmed with all the health advice and don't know where to start? Apply to work with our integrative and functional medicine doctor to find the root cause of your health symptoms and start feeling your best.

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