We all know just how important a good night’s sleep is. Without proper rest, our bodies just can’t function the way they’re supposed to. And if you’ve ever had a poor night of rest, you know exactly what we’re talking about. From moodiness to fatigue, irritability, forgetfulness, weight gain, and even depression, symptoms of ongoing sleep loss are not pleasant, nor are they sustainable. As your Functional Medicine doctor in Fort Collins, we want to make sure that you’re getting the rest your body needs to truly thrive.
The amount and quality of sleep we get on a regular basis plays a crucial role in our overall health. According to one recent study outlined by The Chalkboard, one partial night’s sleep deprivation can be linked to insulin resistance in otherwise healthy people, which can pave the way for Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Another study by Harvard Medical School links lack of sleep to heart disease and hypertension. “Studies have found that a single night of inadequate sleep in people who have existing hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure throughout the following day. This effect may begin to explain the correlation between poor sleep and cardiovascular disease and stroke. For example, one study found that sleeping too little (less than six hours) or too much (more than nine hours) increased the risk of coronary heart disease in women.”
And what’s worse is that an estimated 40 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. So what should we do to make sure we’re getting enough quality sleep? We’re glad you asked. Here are five suggestions for better sleep, from your Northern Colorado Functional Medicine doctors of choice at Restore Health Center.
- Stick to a set sleep schedule – Consistency is important when it comes to establishing healthy sleeping habits. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day creates a rhythm for your body and helps to regulate your body’s clock, so that you can fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
- Make your room a peaceful haven – When it comes to getting optimal sleep, it’s important to set up your sleeping quarters carefully and intentionally, with restfulness in mind. Make the room a comfortable temperature for sleep, keep your bedroom dark or use eyeshades, keep it as quiet as possible, and make sure that your bedroom is only used for sleep or romance. It’s also advised to not keep a television in your room, as the bright, artificial light can disrupt brain activity and alter sleep hormones like melatonin.
- Get enough sunlight during the day – As Dr. Mark Hyman suggests in his blog, aim for at least 20 minutes of sunshine every day. This triggers your brain to release chemicals that regulate sleep cycles and is often why children who play outside during the day are more apt to fall asleep at night. Morning sunlight is also preferred.
- Decrease your blue light exposure – the light emitted from your electronic devices — at least 3 hours prior to bedtime. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, exposure to any light in the evening and night time can suppress melatonin production — the hormone that helps you sleep. However, blue light suppresses melatonin production almost twice as long as other light wavelengths. To reduce blue light exposure, make sure your phone, computer or tablet are in night mode or download free software to reduce blue light, such as f.lux.
- Create a relaxing bedtime ritual – To make sure that your body is primed for bed, it’s important to create a relaxing bedtime ritual. This may consist of a bath, reading a book, journaling, meditating, stretching, or deep breathing. It’s also best to avoid activities such as watching TV, using the internet, or answering emails for two hours before bed.
- Other sleep tricks that we commonly use at Restore Health include the following: Optimizing progesterone and melatonin levels, lowering evening cortisol, optimizing levels of calming amino-acids such as taurine and glycine, balancing neuro-transmitters like serotonin and gaba, retraining circadian rhythms and more.
If you’ve tried everything and are still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to contact your top Functional Medicine doctors in Fort Collins at Restore Health Center. We will investigate the root causes of your sleep issues and will develop an individualized approach based on your biochemistry. Our team is dedicated to helping you develop an unparalleled and rejuvenating sleep experience. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can improve your quality of life.