The Art of a Good Night's Sleep 10 Things you can Do

Who hasn't had trouble getting up and going to bed at a decent hour?

In this modern world, we have electricity and devices that keep us up and distracted for many more hours than our agrarian ancestors. The cost to our health is high, and research is consistently revealing new information. Our body's internal clock can be reset, however, with the help of a few sleep strategies.

1. Try slowly scaling back your bedtime

until you are at the desired hour. Once you have reached a workable bedtime, don’t allow yourself to stray from it. Even one late night can ruin the progress you’ve made.

2. Do not nap. If you must,

do so for 10-30 around 2-3pm. Do not sleep in.

3. When tired, do some light exercises

instead of taking napping. Examples include taking brisk walk outdoors, doing Qi-Gong, or perhaps some free-form shaking and jumping up and down. It might sound counterintuitive, but it gets your breathing, heartrate and energy flowing from stagnant to energized!

4. Try Light Therapy, or Dark Therapy

Oprah recommends it, it must be good for you!

5. Go to bed only when sleepy, and get up if

you haven't fallen asleep in 20 minutes. It's been shown to work 70 to 80 percent of the time.

6. Try Acupuncture

In China acupuncture has been used successfully for thousands of years to treat sleep problems. Here are some points you can press on yourself (without needles). Ask Root Acupuncturists Jon Conant and Shasha Melendez what they suggest for you. JonC@rootwholebody.com and SashaM@rootwholebody.com.

7. Try these natural supplements

Melatonin is good to re-adjust your internal time clock due to jet-lag or a disruption to your sleep cycle.

GABA is helpful if you've got anxiety or monkeymind before bed. GABA is our bodies natural stress inhibitor and one of the only neurotransmitters that counteracts excitatory chemicals in our body such as adrenaline. In addition if you tend to be tense, easily upset or frustrated, or overwhelmed by deadlines your GABA could be depleted.

5-HTP, a neurotransmitter precursor to serotonin, may help if you're feeling down or 'not-yourself'. Serotonin has many profoundly important functions, including a role in sleep, appetite, memory, learning, temperature regulation, mood, sexual behavior, cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, and endocrine regulation. Don't take these if you are already on an SSRI or SNRI. Our naturopathic physicians Dr. Laura Wollman and Dr. Alison Schultz can tell you more. EmailLauraW@rootwholebody.com and AlisonS@rootwholebody.com.

8. Meditate right before bed

using a countdown of the breath. Starting with a number, say 27, feel the rise and fall of your chest and belly. Inhale, think 27, Exhale 27. Inhale 26, Exhale 26. Inhale 25, Exhale 25... If you forget your place, or reach zero, start again. Or do a roving body check - start with your awareness at the top of your head and move to different parts of your body until you reach the bottom of your feet. This simpple practice clears the slate and sets the space for better dream spaces. For more information, contact Inner Space Techniques meditation practitioner Kat Lui at katl@rootwholebody.com

9. Set the mood in your bedroom

Take a shower or bath to wash off the day's worries. Turn off all lights, unplug all devices. Use essential oils for aromatherapy. Do you like your mattress? Is it time for a new/softer/firmer one?

10. Don't eat, exercise or iWork before bed.

If you have sleep trouble or you're trying to learn more about sleep in general, we recommend reading this from Harvard Medical School (but not at night before going to bed! And definitely not in bed with your iPad).

Need help?

If you're needing extra help catching those zzzz's, we invite you to schedule a complimentary consult with one of our naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, nutrition or meditation therapists. Call us at 503-288-7668. We'll also be hosting a sleep workshop, with a panel of experts ready to help you figure out sleep solutions for you and your sleeping buddy.