- Pick a bedtime and stick to it – The body thrives on rhythm. Getting to bed at a similar time night after night trains the body that when a certain time rolls around, it’s time to start getting tired, and ready for bed. Picking a time to go to bed routinely will help with falling asleep, and also alleviate some of the anxiety attached to “when should I go to bed.”
- Resist hitting the snooze button – When your alarm goes off you inherently wake up to hit the snooze button. But falling back asleep initiates another sleep cycle, which cannot be completed in the 10 minutes before your alarm goes off again. You end up getting a poor fragment of sleep, which leaves you very groggy when you do end up getting out of bed.
Get sunlight first thing in the morning – Studies have shown that getting sunlight, or even inside light first thing in the morning helps reset your circadian rhythm for the next 24 hours. So throw on those lights and open your windows when you get out of bed.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet place – Just as sunlight in the morning helps reset your circadian rhythm for the day, sleeping in a dark and quiet room helps keep your melatonin high at night, helping you sleep soundly – and also prevents waking in the middle of the night from noise. Earplugs and heavy curtains may be beneficial.
- Cut down the screen time at night – Many studies suggest that the back-lit lighting from electronic devices affect melatonin levels and negatively affect sleep. Try discontinuing screen use an hour before bed, or using a blue light converting app on your device.
- Sugar and caffeine late in the day? – Sugary sodas and other beverages, and caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea late in the day can wreck a good night’s sleep. Be mindful of when you’re reaching for that “pick-me-up.”
- Smoking – Nicotine is a stimulant, just like caffeine. Many people who smoke tend to smoke before bed, which can severely affect sleep quality. For many other reasons as well, it’s probably best to just quit.
- Daily movement – Getting at least 30 minutes of semi-rigorous movement per day will drastically help sleep. To a point, the more exercise the better. Make your body a little tired throughout the day, so that when it’s time for bed, your body is tired and ready to sleep.
- Only use your bed for sleeping – Your bed is a place for sleep, don’t confuse yourself by also using it as a comfortable office space. You want your brain to associate your bed with sleeping, not work.
Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.