1. Set a bedtime: What is your ideal number of hours of sleep per night? Your ideal number should be between six and eight hours. What time do you need to wake up to start your day? Use these parameters to set a bedtime and stick to it whenever possible.
  2. Develop a bedtime routine: Turn off all electronics and screens for 30 minutes before your bedtime. Instead find a quiet bedtime routine: get ready for bed, spend time with family, meditate, journal, or read a book. Light from our screens significantly inhibit melatonin production14, so I suggest giving your body a 30-minute head-start where you engage in calming, screen-free activities before you get into bed.
  3. Protect your relationship with your mattress: When you tuck yourself into bed, your body should know, “this is where we sleep”. If you watch tv, work, or even read in bed, your relationship with the mattress can become broken, and that signal to sleep in that space is lost. Keep other activities outside the bedroom, even reading before bed should be done on or near bed, not in bed, to help re-connect your body with the idea that “this is where we sleep”.
  4. Sleep in a dark room: Even a small amount of light inhibits our natural melatonin production14. I suggest using a sleep mask nightly to block out ambient light. It takes a few weeks to get used to but stick with it! A mask will also help to re-program your relationship with your mattress, as mentioned above.
  5. Balance blood sugar: Eating sweet snacks or simple carbs before bed can spike our blood sugar, making it difficult to fall asleep, and causing us to wake up when our blood sugar crashes during the night. Limit snacking after dinner, but if you do reach for a snack, focus on high protein and low sugar snacks such as nuts or unsweetened nut butters.
  6. Limit caffeine, nicotine and alcohol: Avoid caffeine, even lightly caffeinated beverages like green tea, after 3:00pm if you experience insomnia. Nicotine dependence causes waking about four hours after your last exposure, so smoking and vaping cessation helps us to sleep through the night. Alcohol may help us fall asleep but prevents us from achieving a deep sleep, so avoiding alcohol is important for waking up feeling well-rested.
  7. No napping: Napping is for babies, toddlers, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the elderly. Napping might help you feel energized to get through your day, but it undermines getting a deep, restful sleep at night.
  8. Additional screening: Insomnia and fatigue may be indications that another health concern should be addressed. Start with blood work to assess thyroid health and anemia, a sleep study to look for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, and address underlying concerns like anxiety, depression, frequent urination, and chronic pain.


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