It’s no secret that lack of sleep can make you feel terrible the next day. Sleep deprivation can also have an immediate effect on your immune system and lead to greater increased risks for diabetes, cancer, obesity, memory loss and dementia, depression, increased anxiety and poor food choices. But before you go to the doctor and ask for the strongest sleeping pill they have, use this checklist to optimize your sleep.
1. Consider using a high quality Magnesium supplement
Deficiency in this master anti-stress mineral can cause major sleep issues. While dosage is always dependent on the individual, 500 mg of magnesium taken nightly could help reduce insomnia scores, sleep latency, and cortisol levels while increasing serum melatonin, allowing you to sleep more deeply and stay asleep through the night. My favorite brand is BiOptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough (no affiliation) to take orally. Magnesium is also highly absorbable through the skin, so using a magnesium spray is also a great option.
2. Rethink your morning & evening rituals
Most people will skip right past this one, but it’s so important! There is no doubt that alcohol can help put you to sleep faster. However, REM sleep (the sleep cycle that is responsible for memory processing) can be greatly disrupted by alcohol being in your system. While you may fall asleep faster, it's highly unlikely that you will wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, physically or mentally. In addition, caffeine has become a natural part of everyday life for most people. How quickly caffeine is metabolized varies greatly from person to person. If you are a person who metabolizes caffeine more slowly, caffeine can disrupt sleep cycles throughout the night despite the fact that you may be able to fall asleep quickly. Limiting, avoiding, or taking a break from caffeine may be the first step in creating more natural energy through restoring your sleep. is, the way you tell your story online can make all the difference.
3. Address nutritional deficiencies
In addition to magnesium, there are several other deficiencies that can lead to sub-par sleep. Namely, deficiencies in vitamin C, potassium, and omega-3s can have a strong impact on sleep, as well as three nutrients that work synergistically: vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and calcium. Checking in with your health coach to see where your diet may be missing some of these nutrients can be a great solution. Equally important as making sure you are getting enough nutritional value is making sure you are not constantly depleting vitamins and minerals at the same time. The standard American diet (SAD) is very depleting since ultra-processed foods are hard on the body. Limiting your intake of foods like refined sugar and starches, inflammatory oils, fried foods, and liquid calories from sodas and caffeinated beverages while increasing your intake of whole fruits and veggies can make a huge difference.
4. Dim the lights & break up with screens at night Most of us know about the effects of blue light on melatonin production, but we may not realize just how powerful melatonin really is. Think of melatonin as your master sleep-wake cycle regulating hormone. Sunlight provides the natural spectrum of light that we need to help coordinate the cycle of melatonin production. Challenge yourself to get more natural light on your eyes during the day, and less artificial light exposure at night, and you’re on your way to magical sleep, consistently.
5. Address chronic stress and unresolved emotions
As humans in modern society, we tend to push any unpleasant thoughts or feelings away. We may try to ignore them, hoping that they will eventually go away and stop bothering us. The problem with this is that emotions have a function – in many cases, they exist as a way to communicate potential danger, even if the situation seems small or petty. When we push away or ignore emotions, they don't go away, they grow. Rather than closing your eyes at night and hoping your mind will turn off, allow yourself time to process any leftover stress or unresolved feelings from your day. With the rise in use of social media coupled with the 24/7 news cycle, it's no wonder many people struggle with "calming the mind." Give yourself permission to have a healthy relationship to technology in order to ease your mind for restful sleep. Consider practicing breath-work, meditation, or journaling to help.
6. Create your sleep sanctuary Both air quality and temperature play a big role in how deeply your body can be allowed to rest and recuperate. Also, really making sure your bedroom is 1.) completely dark and 2.) used only for sleep, is majorly important as well. Even the tiny blue light from a plugged in alarm clock, Alexa, or Google home device can cause random disturbances to your sleep. And if you create an environment where miscellaneous activities such as work or projects can take place in your sleep area, you are not creating a neuro-association that it’s time to sleep in that particular place. Your goal should be to create a strong neuro-association between your bedroom and sleep alone.
I know that some of the items may seem a little overwhelming which is why it’s always a great idea to have a coach to help.