Dr. Mercola’s top guidelines for promoting good sleep.
- Avoid watching TV or using your computer at night—or at least about an hour or so before going to bed—as these technologies can have a significantly detrimental impact on your sleep. TV and computer screens emit blue light; nearly identical to the light you’re exposed to outdoors during the day. This tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, thereby shutting down melatonin secretion.
Under normal circumstances, your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 or 10 pm, which makes you sleepy. When this natural secretion cycle is disrupted, due to excessive light exposure after sunset, insomnia can ensue.
- Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the slightest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. So close your bedroom door, and get rid of night-lights. Refrain from turning on any light at all during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. Cover up your clock radio.
Make sure to cover your windows—I recommend using blackout shades or drapes.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 to 68 degrees. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep. This is because when you sleep, your body’s internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep. Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.
- Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. This increases your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you are ready for sleep.
- Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). These can disrupt your pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well. To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, starting around $50 to $200. Some experts even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to shut down all power in your house.
- Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your bed. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least three feet. This serves at least two functions. First, it can be stressful to see the time when you can’t fall asleep, or wake up in the middle of the night. Secondly, the glow from a clock radio can be enough to suppress melatonin production and interfere with your sleep. Cell phones, cordless phones and their charging stations should ideally be kept three rooms away from your bedroom to prevent harmful EMFs.
Sleeping Well Is Part of a Healthy Lifestyle Plan
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There’s convincing evidence showing that if you do not sleep enough, you’re really jeopardizing your health. Everybody loses sleep here and there, and your body can adjust for temporary shortcomings. But if you develop a chronic pattern of sleeping less than five or six hours a night, then you’re increasing your risk of a number of health conditions, including weakening your immune system and increasing your risk of degenerative brain disorders. If you’re feeling anxious or restless, try using the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which can help you address any emotional issues that might keep you tossing and turning at night.