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  • amychesterton

Sleep Hacks and Why We Need Them

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

Sleep is a hot topic. It has earned its place at the table as it’s a foundational part of daily life and critical to good health. Not much beats a great night of sleep, but there are times for everyone when we really have to fight – for - it. Or, at least be strategic about preserving it.

Did you know that most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to function at their best and to reap the health benefits of sleep? 7-9 hours. Ah, how dreamy. Yet almost 50% of us claim we don’t reach those guidelines, or at least not regularly.

While a poor night’s sleep can sure dampen a day, a pattern of poor sleep (even short term) can have consequences much worse that a grumpy mood; it can also create performance issues, increase stress responses, impact motor skills, and even trigger memory problems. The long-term effects of poor sleep are this, PLUS can also lead to depression, a compromised immune system, greater risk of hypertension, possible weight gain, potential metabolic syndrome...and a whole lot more.

Sleep is an integral piece of feeling good and healthy. So, without getting panicked that we are not getting enough of it, how do we carve out better habits to protect it?

First, get curious. What’s the main obstacle?

Is it not tired, or is it anxiety over a deadline, an upcoming early morning, etc.?

Is it that you have a restless old dog in your bedroom, or a sometimes-snoring partner? (Oh wait, that’s at my house. Wink wink.)

Do you have sleep apnea? Are you going through hormonal shifts? Or experiencing other medical conditions? If yes to these, it’s time to see your MD to get your sleep back on track.

Chances are you probably know what the obstacles are. Now it’s time to get creative and explore what might be both easy and effective for you.

Some studied tactics and a few personal favorites to try:

· Prioritize exercise or other movement in the day

· Strive for nutrient dense food throughout the day to regulate blood sugar

· Avoid eating too close to bedtime

· Limit alcohol and avoid before bedtime

· Cut the caffeine off 8-10 hours before bedtime

· Do a gratitude Brain Dump; take 5-10 minutes to jot down the good stuff

· Enjoy an Epsom salt bath

· Create a sleep environment that is comfortable, cool, dark, and free of distractions

· Unplug!

· Use a fan for white noise

· Try a natural supplement like magnesium (my go-to), GABA, L-theanine

· Meditate

· Use essential oils known for supporting sleep like lavender, bergamot, ylang ylang

Lastly, lean in to trying new things. Hopefully you will find one or two that feels just right.


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