Getting Restorative Sleep
We all know that getting sleep is important. But knowing that sleep is important and getting good restorative sleep are two different things. Here are some simple things that all of us can do to improve our sleep!
The most important thing that I've found to improve sleep in our world today is to minimize or even eliminate electronics around the bed. This can mean making sure the TV is turned off, and moving alarm clocks away from the bed. It can also mean making sure the light form electronic devices is blocked. But the most important thing this refers to is our mobile phones. There is evidence that the signals from our phones disrupts our sleep. One such study is listed below in references. Obviously, you can completely eliminate this issue by either turning off the device or by keeping it out of the bedroom while you sleep. Another option is putting the device on airplane mode which allows the device to still be used as an alarm clock. However, many people need to have the device functional and within hearing in case they receive an emergency call. In this case, I recommend keeping the phone as far away from the bed as possible, and using Do Not Disturb to prevent the unnecessary communications from creating sounds and light (the people you want to have access can be programmed into the phone).
The second thing to do to improve your sleep is to develop a sleep routine. This is a series of things that you do to prepare for bed, as well as the consistent schedule on which you do them. Your sleep routine will likely include the common "getting ready for bed" activities like putting on pajamas and brushing your teeth. But a sleep routine can also include having a cup of tea, reading a book, and other relaxing activities. Your sleep routine can also include things that you avoid doing, like eating heavy foods and being on your phone. Every person's sleep routine may be a little different, what is important is that you have activities that indicate to your body that it's time to sleep. This conditioning will help your body transition and prepare to fall asleep.
Finally, let's talk about things that you can take to improve sleep. Based on my training and knowledge of human physiology, I'm not a fan of sleep medications. These medications, like Ambient, Lunesta, and benzodiazepines, are not a long term solution for disrupted sleep. They come with a high risk of dependency, and they do not resolve the issue that caused the disrupted sleep in the first place. I far prefer to address the cause of the sleep issue. I feel similarly about melatonin. I want the body to naturally create and release the necessary melatonin to induce sleep rather than having a person take it as a supplement. There are things to take that I do like, these include some of the herbs that support the process of sleep; valerian, hops, passion flower, and chamomile. For those who are having difficulty getting restorative sleep, I find these are great options as they can not only help with sleep short term, but they can also heal the issue and eventually not be needed.
While there are some individuals who will need a bit more help, the items I discussed will be sufficient for many in getting restorative sleep. If you are looking to improve your sleep, you can pick one or two of these suggestions, implement the change, and see what happens!
Loughran, Sarah P.a; Wood, Andrew W.a; Barton, Julie M.a; Croft, Rodney J.a; Thompson, Bruceb; Stough, Cona. The effect of electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phones on human sleep. NeuroReport 16(17):p 1973-1976, November 28, 2005. | DOI: 10.1097/01.wnr.0000186593.79705.3c