3 min|Dr. Maya Kuczma

Integrative Guide to Wellness: Sleep


We all know the feeling of being sleep deprived - our fuse is shorter, pain feels more severe than usual, our appetite seems out of control, and exercising is a struggle.

REM sleep is the most restorative period of time for our body; depriving ourselves of this deep, restful sleep is detrimental to our ability to heal. Additionally, ongoing sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk for a variety of diseases including Alzheimer's, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, as well as early mortality. In this sense, we see why it can be impossible to become healthy - mind, body, and spirit - when we are chronically sleep deprived. Therefore, creating a mindful sleep routine is our first step in establishing a healthy lifestyle.

1. Exposure to sunlight and the blue light given off by electronics has a huge effect on our circadian rhythm as they both blunt the release of melatonin, our natural sleep hormone.

Take steps to ensure that you are supporting a natural circadian rhythm:

  • Decrease light exposure in the evening; dim the lights in your house and turn off any non-essential lighting
  • At least an hour before bed, turn off all electronics and overhead lighting; if you must use electronics, download the app f.lux which helps to decrease the blue light emitted by your electronic devices
  • Ensure that your bedroom is dark as even moderate light exposure can interfere with melatonin production
  • Create a before sleep ritual during this hour: listen to music, take a warm bath, read a relaxing book, have a cup of caffeine-free tea, practice deep breathing
  • Get up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends
  • As soon as you get up, get exposure to sunlight. Bright light will inhibit the release of melatonin and encourage the production of cortisol helping to reset your biological clock

2. If you wake frequently throughout the night, try having a small protein-rich snack before bed to help stabilize your blood sugar

3. Ensure that your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable

4. Stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for at least 4-6 hours before bed

5. Only use your bed for sleeping; this ensures that when you go to bed, your body knows it is time to sleep

6. If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy and then try again; this helps to break the cycle of viewing your bed as the place where you struggle to get to sleep

Read our Integrative Guide to Wellness series for guidance on how to live - and age - well so that your visits can become simple tune-ups rather than a complete overhaul.

Integrative Guide to Wellness: Sleep

Integrative Guide to Wellness: Movement

Integrative Guide to Wellness: Stress Relief

Integrative Guide to Wellness: Nourish Yourself

Integrative Guide to Wellness: Daily Detoxification

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