7 Ways to Improve Sleep Quality
by Dr. Nancy Rahnama
Director of Health & Nurition
Getting enough deep, restful sleep each night is so important for our bodies, yet most of us fail to get the sleep we’re looking for. We often go to bed too late, can’t get to sleep, or wake up frequently in the night. So… what gives? What do we need to change so we can finally feel refreshed when we wake up? Read on for 7 tips to help you improve your sleep quality.
1. Increase Your Magnesium Intake
We have two nervous systems that play a part in how restful our nights are, our sympathetic nervous system and our parasympathetic nervous system. Our sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our fight-or-flight response, it’s what makes us alert and awake. The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is responsible for rest and recuperation.
When we are magnesium deficient, our parasympathetic system is unable to take over, leaving us feeling wired and often anxious, unable to get to sleep. You can increase your magnesium intake through eating magnesium-rich foods and/or by taking a magnesium supplement, such as Rest & Digest.
2. Stop Eating Earlier
When your stomach is full of food, it can feel physically heavy and you may find it uncomfortable to lie down. Besides the physical discomfort, eating late can affect the natural release of melatonin and human growth hormone, which is essential in recovery from exercise and industry, and helps boost your metabolism.
You should also be careful not to consume too much caffeine late in the day – how late you can take caffeine varies from person to person and what you’re drinking, but around 3pm or 4pm should be your last cup, according to most studies.
3. Improve Your Gut Health
As we touched on above, an uncomfortable stomach is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. Researchers in Japan found that healthy gut bacteria help strengthen normal sleeping patterns because they help create serotonin and dopamine. Your gut microbiome also works on your circadian rhythm (which we’ll talk about more below), and so any disruption to your internal clock can also disrupt your gut health.
Lack of sleep can also increase food cravings, leading to weight gain and other issues, so it’s important to create a healthy system – your gut health should support your sleep, and your sleep should support your gut health.
Magnesium can improve your gut function by relaxing the muscles in the intestinal walls and ensuring you have smooth bowel movements, which will help you experience less stomach discomfort around bedtime.
4. Decrease Stressors in Your Life
We’ve learned to live with more stress in our lives than we ever had before – even just forty years ago, people didn’t have to deal with “threats” at all times of the day. Today, we have to look out for real threats to our wellbeing (such as staying alert while we’re driving), working long hours, hearing and/or seeing the news on TV or our phones, and we have 24/7 access to our email inboxes, our phones, and social media. While there’s no doubt that these technological advances have improved our lives, they can also make us feel as though bad news could come out of nowhere at any moment.
If you’re experiencing high stress and anxiety in your life, you’re going to find it difficult to sleep restfully at night. Here are some tips to help you reduce stress in your life:
- Look for a job with a better work-life balance
- Use app blockers on your phone to stop you from looking at the apps you find stressful
- Learn to stop working at the end of the day
- Get a morning and evening routine that is just for you – don’t look at your phone or watch the news until after this routine is complete
- Don’t watch the news first thing in the morning or last thing at night
- Practice mindfulness
- Listen to soothing music at night
- Reduce your screen time
- Get regular exercise
5. Increase Your Vitamin B6 Intake
Vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) promotes deeper sleep and, when taken with magnesium, can decrease symptoms of insomnia and anxiety. One study found that participants who took magnesium and B6 once a day an hour before bed for 3 months found it significantly easier to fall asleep, regardless of what was causing their insomnia in the first place. You can find this winning combination of minerals and vitamins in our Rest & Digest supplement.
6. Get More Daylight
If you work in a dark office all day and come home and turn on all the lights in your house, your internal clock will be confused. This clock, known as the circadian rhythm, is still in sync with the natural rise and fall with the sun – if it had the choice, we would sleep when the sun went down and rise as it did. Of course, this isn’t how real life works nowadays, so the more you can do to mimic that natural change in lighting, the better. Try to get plenty of natural sunlight during the day and start to dim or turn off lights after you’ve had dinner. This even works in cases of insomnia – one study found that participants were able to fall asleep 83% faster than they did before they got daily bright light exposure.
7. Decrease Screentime Before Bed
Most of us now spend very little time not looking at a screen. While daylight is beneficial during the day, bright light in the evening is not. Blue light has been seen to be the most disruptive because it fools the brain into thinking that it’s still daytime and so it won’t produce melatonin, which is a hormone that helps you fall asleep. Ideally, you should stop looking at a screen at least an hour or two before you go to bed. However, since that’s often hard for people, you have some other options:
- Turn on other light modes on your phone (some will do this automatically on a timer, others need an app)
- Wear blue-light blocking glasses
- Turn down the brightness on your devices as much as you can as it gets closer to bedtime
Our Rest & Digest supplement provides you with magnesium and B6 to help you experience deep, restful, and productive sleep. You simply take 2 capsules before bed and you’ll find it much easier to have quality sleep, especially if you combine it with the other tips on this list. Click here to learn more about Rest & Digest.
Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease. In addition to her private practice in Beverly Hills, she is also the co-founder and Director of Nutrition for Dr Nancy MD.
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