Improving the amount and quality of one’s sleep can change with a simple, consistent bed time routine. This routine can effectively take the place of medications or supplements commonly prescribed to assist with sleep or added to one’s current regime. Quality sleep not only effects our energy levels, ability to focus and mood, but also, our immune system, inflammatory responses, growth potential and more.
When patients ask about help with sleep, it’s important to understand if the issues are with falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Treatments tend to be much more effective if it addresses the phase or phases of sleep that is disrupted. The bed time routine is designed to help both.
Melatonin is a common supplement used to help with sleep. This natural hormone is produced from the red glow of the sky as the sun sets and in darkness. The blue light from cell phones and TV has the exact opposite effect and signals the hormone cortisol to wake us up. It is important to put away all blue lighted screens at least 1 hour before bed or use special glasses or apps to block the light from entering the eyes. These tools are also helpful for people who work long hours in front of a computer as the light may also be causing headaches.
A hot bath, especially filled with Epsom salts, is also a great tool for helping people fall asleep easier. Epsom salts are highly concentrated in magnesium which is easily absorbed through the skin as we soak in a hot bath. The mixture of the magnesium and warm, soothing bath water, helps to relax tense muscles, ease our minds of stress and tension and creates the perfect environment for sleep. Try it with at least two cups of Epsom salts which can be inexpensively purchased through a farm store. Add your favorite essential oils for aromatherapy and consider finishing your hot bath with a cold rinse to help invigorate the immune system.
Setting the state for slumber is also an important part of a restful night sleep. The bedroom should be used for sleeping and sex only as to give the brain the final signals that the day is complete. Make sure the bedroom is dark, cool and comfortable. Blackout curtains can be helpful for cutting down on street lamps or car lights and white noise machines or ear plugs may be necessary depending on one’s sensitivity to noise. A room that is too warm may cause the body to wake up frequently to cool down. The body likes to be cool when sleeping so consider adding an extra blanket if cold or opening a window for fresh air if too warm.
These tips alone can help with quality and quantity of sleep. Even if sleep difficulties are because of hormone dysregulation, restless thoughts or aches and pains, these tools will correct those problems too. For more specific information, visit your health care provider.
Crane Holmes is a Clarks Summit native now residing in Portland, Oregon. He is a licensed naturopathic physician who strives to provide high-quality, compassionate and individualized care. His goal is to discover the underlying causes of system imbalances whether physical or emotional. He is available for distance consultations and in-person visits for those interested in holistic and natural approaches to health care. Reach him at