8 Easy Tips for Better Sleep

8 Easy Tips for Better Sleep

How does sleep affect your health and fertility?

Sleep is essential to good heath since that is when the body repairs and regenerates itself.  Sleep enhances the immune system’s defenses and is required for memory consolidation and learning.  For women’s health and fertility, sleep plays a critical role in reducing the body’s stress and maintaining healthy hormone levels. Consistent high-quality sleep and fertility  go hand-in-hand.

How much sleep do you need?

The health effects of sleep deprivation are serious.  Those who sleep less than seven hours per night have an increased risk for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Weakened immune system
  • Weight gain
  • Poor ovulation
  • Infertility

8 easy tips for better sleep:

1. Optimize your sleep environment to support better sleep

  • Sleep in a darkened room
  • Maintain a cooler room temperature
  • Keep quiet – use earplugs or a sound machine to minimize noise

2. Maintain a bedtime routine

Having a pattern of regular activities as you wind down for the evening can help signal your body to prepare for a more restful night’s sleep. Consistent bedtime habits – brushing your teeth, washing your face, and reading a book – help you get to sleep more easily.

3. Eat a bedtime snack

A blood sugar crash in the middle of the night will cause a release of cortisol, which in turn wakes you up and makes it hard to go back to sleep. To prevent a crash, enjoy a bedtime snack that is high in both protein and fat, and low in carbs. Try nut butter on celery, a piece of cheese, or a slice of turkey wrapped around avocado.

4. Avoid or limit your intake of these sleep disruptors:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine

5. Exercise regularly

Exercise has been shown to promote more restful sleep. Mild to moderate exercise does the trick and it can simply be a 20 – 30 minute stroll each day. The best time to exercise is first thing in the morning, as it helps to set your daily circadian rhythms.

6. Stay consistent

Whatever you do, to do it consistently. For most of human history we set our clock by the sun, and our daily routine was pretty much the same. Our bodies thrive on a regular schedule.

7. Take supplements to promote restful sleep

Melatonin for sleep

The brain produces a surge of melatonin each night it becomes dark. This promotes the circadian rhythm, prepares one for sleep, and helps the pituitary gland regulate the release of hormones which govern a woman’s reproductive cycle.  Using melatonin as a nightly supplement between 9 – 10 pm helps to augment the natural rhythms of the body, promote sleep, and improve fertility.

Vitamin D for sleep

Low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with sleep issues, including poor sleep quality, sleep of a shorter duration, and increased risk of sleep disorders.  In addition, vitamin D plays a big role in supporting a healthy immune system, producing healthy eggs, and lowering the risk of miscarriage.

Magnesium for sleep

An essential mineral, magnesium plays a role in a vast number of the body’s daily functions.  Magnesium helps to relax muscles and can reduce nighttime leg movements and muscle twitches that are associate with insomnia.  Magnesium also has a calming effect on the nervous system.  It may be taken orally, or one can enjoy a both with Epsom salts.

Skullcap for sleep

Skullcap is a member of the mint family, and its leaves have been traditionally used as a nerve tonic and sedative.   Skullcap may reduce the symptoms of tension and anxiety.  Skullcap is a wonderful herb to use in lower doses during the day for anxiety, and in higher doses at night to promote restful sleep.

8. Acupuncture for sleep

Acupuncture reduces stress and anxiety, and makes one feel calm and relaxed.  It is tremendously effective at helping promote restful sleep.  Your acupuncturist can help to identify other steps you can personally take to get a good night’s sleep.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, we would love to work with you. We can answer your questions and help you get scheduled for your first appointment. Call today 510-595-1175!

Leslie Oldershaw, L.Ac.
Medical Director
Fertility Acupuncturist East Bay
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