Last week we officially moved into the summer!  Such an active and fun time of the year.  I spent last weekend in Sweden and had the honor of joining friends in their mid-summer celebration.  It’s a 2 day cultural event with traditional meals, songs, dances and celebrations to mark the halfway point between the summer and winter.  I kept thinking about how great of an idea it was to bring the entire family and community together to celebrate the summer.  While there, we  stayed at was on a quiet lake up North and I had some of my best sleep of the year.  A good prep for today’s topic!
Today I’m continuing to share my favorite sleep support tips with you.  Almost 40% of people have insomnia at some point, which is amazing considering how awful insomnia can leave you feeling during the day and affect your whole life.  This, along with how important sleep is for setting the rhythm for your entire hormone system, is why I’m passionate about helping you get as much rest as possible. 
Your bedroom sets the stage for your sleep and, along with the nutritional tips I shared in the last newsletter, are more effective in the long run than sedatives (natural or pharmaceutical).
Top Ways to Create a Sleep-Friendly Bedroom

  • Use blackout blinds – melatonin is your sleep hormone and it creates a sedative effect when it’s released.  Darkness is THE trigger for melatonin release.  Light, on the other hand, blocks its release and it doesn’t take much light at all to affect your sleep – if you can see your hand in front of your face, your room isn’t dark enough.  One of the easiest options for blocking out street lights and the sun is to install blackout blinds.  Ikea has good, cheap ones that you can cut to fit almost any window.  I’ve even installed them myself which says a lot since I’m really not all that handy.
  • Keep lights off when you go to the bathroom – turning on lights in the middle of the night also shifts your body into “awake” mode.  Going to the bathroom 1-2 times a night is normal and healthy if your body needs to move out waste, but if you have problems falling asleep afterwards you can start to feel a little frustrated with your bladder.  A small nightlight can help you make your way to the bathroom without being bright enough to wake up your whole system.
  • Turn the TV and computer off 1 hour before bed (ipads and iphones too!) – electronics like TV’s and iphones emit a specific light that is stimulating for your brain and nervous system. If you have trouble falling asleep, avoid electronics and instead take that hour to have a hot bath, read, write in your journal, meditate or any other activity that helps you wind down from your busy day.
  • Keep your bedroom, well, a bedroom – simplifying your bedroom to one purpose helps your body learn that it’s a place of rest, and just that.  To help your body and nervous system switch into a calm state when you’re there, avoid putting a desk, workstation or even a TV in your room.
  • Remove or cover electronic displays – LED displays and lights on digital alarms, DVD players and other electronics emit light that can affect your sleep quality.  You’ll want to move them out of your room, turn them off or cover the displays up completely at night.
  • Clear out the clutter!  Your bedroom needs to be a zen haven of rest and clutter is stressful.  Take a look at your shelves, floors and surface areas and clear out anything you don’t absolutely need.  Your nervous system will take a deep, long breath of relief when you do!

Take Action Now
Pick the top 1-2 tips that are standing in YOUR way of creating a supportive environment for sleeping.  Put time aside in your calendar to move forward on them (i.e. plan an Ikea trip for blinds, a trip to the thrift store to donate clutter, etc.).  For electronics, find a way to cover the lights or simply turn them off at night.

All the best,

Dr. Viv