We’ve ALL been there…trying desperately to get some much needed sleep, but nothing works!

You’ve tried warm milk, lavender essential oil on your pillow, chamomile tea, counting sheep, if any blog online has named it, you’ve tried it. Maybe you’ve even gone as far as popping some of those “harmless” over the counter sleeping pills. I hate to break it to you, but those sleeping pills actually aren’t so harmless!

Sleeping Pills

The most common side effects of sleeping pills are dizziness, dry mouth, daytime drowsiness, difficulty with coordination, memory loss, depressed breathing rate, strange dreams, itchiness, and swelling. For those who take them on a regular basis, these effects often worsen. Furthermore, new symptoms can appear, such as high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and depression.

The side effects of sleeping pills can range from light fatigue to sleepwalking, so it’s safe to say they shouldn’t be an option for you. If you’re still dying for a good night’s sleep, what other options do you have? Luckily for you, I have the answer.

First off, you should know that it won’t happen overnight. Sorry! But when it happens, you will be sleeping like you did when you were a baby.

How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Mastering the art of sleeping well takes a little more work than you might think, but trust me when I say that it is so worth it. The first step is living within the natural 24-hour cycle from light to dark.

Why is that important? And what does it mean?

Our hormones are based on Mother Nature’s cycle, and they respond to the rhythm of the day accordingly. We are meant to rise with the sun (or as close to sunrise as possible), since our cortisol is highest at that time. As the day goes on, our cortisol lowers and our body prepares for rest. This is how nature intended our bodies to work.

No one is “naturally” a night owl. If a person feels that they function best at night, they are more than likely experiencing hormonal dysregulation. And changes should be made to shift back into the natural cycle for better health and better sleep.

Steps To Getting A Better Sleep

  • Wake naturally without an alarm clock. If this is tough at first, set your alarm for a quiet “easing” into wakefulness by using a chime or gong or even a sunlight clock until you naturally wake on your own. Turn any conventional clocks around or cover them.
  • Make sure you are getting your most pressing things done in the morning, the things that require more energy than others, like exercising, stressful projects, etc.
  • Eat on a schedule, and eat real food. Eliminate all processed refined sugars, grains, and anything that comes in a box. Breakfast should not taste like dessert.
  • Expose your eyes and skin to sunlight (vitamin D) for at least 15-20 minutes per day. Absorbing sunlight is best done with bare arms and legs. Walk barefoot outside, feel the earth beneath your feet. If it’s not the season to be bare, get a natural vitamin D light for your home and talk to your doctor about supplementing.
  • As the day winds down, shut your blinds and lower the lights. Light a few candles, turn on relaxing music and take a warm bath with lavender essential oil.
  • Eat before 6:30 p.m. and make your dinner lighter than your lunch or breakfast. If you still struggle with wakefulness, eat a small protein/fat/carb snack before bed to stop the surge of adrenaline and cortisol that often happens in the night when blood sugar is off.
  • Turn off ALL electronics by 8:00 p.m. or use blue blocker sunglasses to read the computer, watch TV, or read electronic books.
  • Read, use lavender oil, do some relaxing stretching before bed, and be in bed asleep by 10:30pm at the latest.
  • Write down all the things you THINK you may worry about once your eyes are closed; the next day’s projects, what didn’t get done that day, etc. Once it is down on paper, you release it from your energy and your mind and free yourself to rest. If you still struggle with stressful thoughts, work on reducing stress during the day with an Emwave2 or a stress reducing app.
  • Remove ALL sources of light from the bedroom (including televisions, phones, alarm clock lights, and light that filters through windows, etc.). If this is not possible, wear an eye mask for total darkness. My favorite brand is Bucky; they are soft and have a concave shape over the eyes.

That’s it. Pretty simple stuff, right? Like all good things, it will take time for your system to adjust and get back to where it should be for a great night’s sleep. For most people, following the steps above will do the trick. But if these steps don’t solve your sleep issues, ask your functional medicine practitioner to order a diurnal saliva test and test your adrenals. This test will determine if you are having lows and highs at the wrong part of the day. And then your practitioner can work with you to regulate your adrenals.

Sleep well!

In health & happiness,