Live Better. Love Better. Work Better.

How Do I Sleep at Night, Part I?

By: Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC  

Not the best sleeper? That’s okay – you’re not alone. Research tells us that poor sleep has an adverse effect and immediate negative effects on your “hormones, exercise, performance and brain function.” Additionally, it can increase weight gain and put you at a higher risk for disease. This blog will share seventeen evidence-based tips to help you get better sleep at night. 

  1. Increase light exposure during the day 

Your body has a natural time-keeping clock that is referred to as circadian rhythm. Your body, brain, and hormones are affected by your brain, and they stay awake and tell your body when it’s time to sleep. The natural light that you are exposed to through the day keeps this circadian rhythm healthy, which improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration. It’s helpful to strive to get daily light exposure, but when it comes to bedtime hours, cut back so that your body and brain can adjust before the lights go out. 

  1. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening

Although light exposure during the day is beneficial, nighttime light exposure actually has the opposite effect. Yes, that means don’t stare at your phone for endless hours before going to bed. This is due to its effect on your circadian rhythm, which tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime still. This light exposure reduces natural hormones like melatonin, which helps you to sleep and relax. I would recommend terminating watching television and turning off any bright lights a full two hours before going to bed.  

  1. Don’t consume caffeinated drinks later in the day 

Did you know that 90% of the US population consumes caffeine? Although it can be helpful for enhancing “focus, energy, and sports performance” when it’s consumed late in the day, it stimulates your nervous system and can prevent your body from fully relaxing at nighttime. Studies have shown that consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bed “significantly worsens sleep quality.” Because caffeine stays in the blood for up to 6-8 hours, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3-4 pm in the afternoon is not recommended.  

  1. Reduce irregular or long daytime naps 

Short power naps are beneficial, but long and irregular napping during the day can have a negative impact on your sleep routine. Sleeping during the day has a way of confusing an internal clock, which can make it harder to sleep at night. Sometimes, taking naps can even affect you negatively by making you sleepier during the day! Although, if you are going to nap, try to make it for 30 minutes or less, because this can increase functionality during the day. 

  1. Remain consistent with sleep and wake times 

The body’s circadian rhythm functions on a schedule, or a loop, in which it aligns itself with sunrise and sunset. You have the ability to aid long-term sleep quality by going to bed and waking up at the same time. Eventually, your body may adjust and you might not even need an alarm! 

  1. Take a melatonin supplement

Melatonin can help you to fall asleep faster. Personally, I would recommend using Vick’s Melatonin gummies, which you can find over the counter in your local drug store. Take 1-5mg about 30-60 minutes before bed. Melatonin can “alter brain chemistry,” so it might be useful for you to check with your healthcare provider before using it.  

  1. Consider these other supplements
  • Ginkgo biloba: Natural herb that can aid sleep, relaxation, and stress reduction, 3g recommended dose
  • Glycine: An amino acid that can improve sleep quality, 3g recommended dose 
  • Valerian root: Helps to fall asleep quicker and improves sleep quality, 500mg recommended dose 
  • Magnesium: Responsible for over 600 reactions within the body, improves relaxation and sleep quality
  • L-theanine: An amino acid that improves relaxation and sleep, 100-20mg recommended dose 
  • Lavender: Powerful herb with many health benefits, induces calming and sedentary effect to improve sleep, 80-160mg recommended dose

When troubleshooting with these supplements to find out what works best for you, make sure you are only trying one at a time. Check out my next blog for the next part of this two-part blog series to learn more!  


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