10 Tips for Naturally Better Sleep & a Healthier You

JANUARY 7, 2024

Hi! I'm Lauren.

You're destined for greatness, and
my job is to help you look, feel,
& perform at your best while embracing your purpose-filled life.
Not prioritizing sleep is one of the most common and worst ways we sabotage our health.

Sleep is one of the body’s most important biological functions. There is not a single organ, system or process that is not impacted by sleep. It’s the time when the body cleanses, repairs and rebalances. Not only is quantity (7-9 hours ideally) important, but quality is critical as well.

When we don’t get enough quality sleep, we set ourselves up for things like:
Hormone imbalance
Increased body fat
Inability lose weight
Low energy
Poor memory & having a harder time focusing
Sugar & carb cravings
Slower recovery from activity
Weakened immune system
And more… (yikes!)
But on the flip side, optimizing your sleep can bring about incredible health benefits from supporting healthy appetite and weight, to boosting energy and productivity, to name a few.

Fortunately, there are many, very simple things that can be done to quickly improve sleep quality so that you can look and feel your best each day.

Whether you’re looking to totally transform your sleep or are just looking for ways to take it from good to great, these practical strategies have got you covered.

Begin implementing one at a time if you need to in order to make the habits stick and become part of your lifestyle.

You’d be surprised by how dramatically and quickly these small adjustments can improve your sleep and energy!

Let’s dive into our 10 Tips for Naturally Better Sleep & a Healthier You

You definitely won’t want to sleep on these!

Committing to a regular sleep schedule might just be the most significant change you can make to enhance your sleep habits. By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you synchronize your biological clock, making the entire sleep process more efficient – and that’s the ultimate goal! “But, Lauren, what about weekends?” you ask. Yes, this applies to weekends too. We often struggle to adapt to even minor shifts in our sleep patterns. Contrary to popular belief, sleeping in on weekends doesn’t compensate for sleep deprivation during the week, and it can actually make waking up on Monday even more challenging – not ideal! As odd as it may seem, consider setting a bedtime alarm. We frequently get so engrossed in evening activities, like keeping up with kids, enjoying hobbies, socializing with friends or a partner, or catching up on our favorite shows, that we lose track of time and end up heading to bed much later than we should. Setting an alarm to remind you when it’s time to wind down for bed can make all the difference in successfully adopting this vital tip. When the alarm goes off, it’s time to begin winding down with your bedtime routine.

Lack of sunlight or exposure to light at the wrong times can throw your circadian rhythm off and make it difficult to fall asleep and wake up rested. Spending some time in the sun early in the day helps to calibrate your circadian rhythm. Additionally, the sun allows for vitamin D production, an extremely important prohormone inversely related to the sleep initiating hormone melatonin. Many people deficient in Vitamin D have trouble falling asleep each night despite being exhausted (just one of the many dangers of low vitamin D). Bottom line: get more light (from the sun) in the day and less at night to support the body’s natural diurnal rhythms and your ability to get regular, restorative sleep.
The best times to get sun are as soon as you wake up and midday. Practically this could look like taking a morning walk in the sun, or even just taking a few deep breaths while standing outside in fresh air and sun upon waking. For midday exposure, an after-lunch walk is great, or even just taking an afternoon phone call outdoors in sunlight and fresh air works wonders. These simple habits are powerful and can fit perfectly into even the busiest schedule.

Yup! Getting your body moving can actually help improve your sleep! Exercise and sleep have a very mutually beneficial relationship. Research shows that exercising during the day helps you fall asleep more quickly and reach deeper sleep for longer periods of time. In return, a byproduct of adequate, quality sleep is happy hormones! In terms of impact to your fitness efforts this equates to: balanced glucagon, cortisol and insulin – which aid in reducing fat storage and managing blood sugar; efficiently produced growth hormone – which helps the body heal, repair and build muscle; and balanced leptin and ghrelin – which helps minimize unhealthy cravings and prevents overeating. These are just a few of the hormonal relationships.

Although sleep and exercise do have a wonderful bidirectional relationship, there are two important things to consider. 1. Never compromise sleep for the sake of getting a workout in – prioritize your rest. 2. Preferably you’d workout in the morning (it’s better for natural hormone patterns) but if that’s not an option due to your schedule, avoid working out 2-3 hours before bedtime – exercising too closely to bed can be disruptive to the circadian rhythm which is what we’re focused on optimizing. Other than that, get your workout on for better sleep and overall health!

Caffeine is a psychoactive nervous system stimulant, and it will prevent you from falling asleep and having good quality sleep. Here's why: caffeine has what’s called a “half-life” (the amount of time it takes for the average person to eliminate half of it from the body) of about 5 to 6 hours. This means that although you may not feel as alert as you did when you had your first sips of your morning coffee, your body is still managing the effects of it several hours later. So that midday caffeine "pick me up" could still be keeping you mildly stimulated at bedtime. So set a caffeine curfew based on the time you’re committing to going to bed each night and stick to it. For myself and many of my clients, a good caffeine cutoff time is 1pm.

This is a good rule of thumb for overall health, but it’s especially important to adhere to at bedtime if your goal is quality sleep. Drinking alcohol may lead to waking up in the middle of the night, impaired breathing, further dehydration, and preventing the body from reaching the deep stages of REM sleep. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is a crucial phase of the sleep cycle for the brain, as it’s responsible for many neurological functions like dreaming and memory consolidation (the process of converting short-term memories into long-term ones). Ever been around someone who drank so much that they couldn’t remember what happened the night before? Why does that happen? Well, it's partly because the hippocampus, a critical region for memory formation in the brain, struggles to properly encode memories when they're awake. Then, to make matters worse, during sleep, their ability to consolidate memories is further hindered by the lack of sufficient REM sleep stages. This double impact on the intoxicated brain – both while awake and asleep – significantly impairs memory formation and recall. This kind of damage can have severe consequences in both the short and long term, so it’s highly recommended to avoid excessive drinking and consuming alcohol close to bed.

This isn’t to say that eating at night should be entirely avoided (a common weight loss myth). A light, healthy snack is okay and even beneficial in certain cases. However, consuming a large meal before bedtime can greatly compromise sleep and metabolism. Digestion and sleep are two huge bodily processes that you don’t want competing, because when they do, neither wins. Also, we tend to think of the circadian rhythm solely in terms of falling asleep, but it also influences other physiological processes in the body, like appetite, digestion and metabolism. In the morning, the body is more insulin-sensitive, helping to fuel daily activities. However, at night, the body becomes more insulin-resistant as it prepares for sleep. So when we eat late at night, especially larger meals, we’re going against the body’s natural rhythm. This habit leads to two less-than-ideal outcomes: 1. Quality of sleep is compromised because the body has to work hard to digest food when it should be resting, and 2. those extra nighttime calories are stored as fat instead of being burned throughout the day.
Drinking too many fluids at night can also disrupt sleep by causing frequent awakenings for trips to the restroom.

Bottom Line: If you do choose to include a bedtime snack, be sure that it’s whole foods based, a low blood sugar impact snack (i.e. a healthy fat or healthy fat and protein) and not something that’s going to make you wired or uncomfortably full. Whether or not you choose to have that after-dinner snack, I recommend closing up the kitchen 2-4 hours before bed and cutting off liquids 1-2 hours before bed for healthy sleep, digestion and metabolism.

Like caffeine, there is another stimulant to consider and avoid at bedtime – artificial light (especially “blue” light). Light and lack thereof are external cues that make our bodies aware of when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to sleep. It used to be that the sun was our primary source of light; but, thanks to modern technology, we’ve now got easy, around-the-clock-access to light, via artificial light. Artificial light can be found in everything from computers, laptops, TVs, and cellphones to clocks and appliances – basically anything that lights up unnaturally (especially in hues of blue and green). Exposure to even small amounts of these lights in the evening can trick your brain into believing that it’s not yet nighttime and thus not yet bedtime. When this occurs, our bodies resist initiating the processes of sleep like decreasing the levels of the more daytime hormones (like cortisol) and increasing the levels of nighttime ones (like melatonin and growth hormone) – which means you’ll likely have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep and your quality of sleep will be compromised. So an hour or more before bedtime, shut it down.

Naturally, sticking to this routine may be challenging at first, or there might be occasional situations that make adhering to this curfew not possible. In this case, you can turn to blue light blocking features and devices. These aren’t perfect, but can offer some support. Most tablets, phones, laptops, and newer PCs come with a built-in blue light filter — locate it and use it to its full potential when evening falls. Many of these electronic devices also offer timer functions that allow you to schedule the filter to activate and deactivate at specific times each day. Additionally, you can invest in blue light blocking glasses for added protection. Salt lamps and non-toxic candles are also nice additions to personal spaces and the dim amber glow is great for creating an environment perfect for relaxing and winding down at night.

What does your nighttime routine look like? Do you have one? Does it consist of scrolling through social media and falling asleep with Netflix asking “are you still watching?” No shame, many of us have been there! Having a solid nighttime routine can aid in optimizing your sleep. It’s important to allow your body and mind to wind down from the activity and chaos of the day or it will follow you right to bed and you’ll be busy thinking about the when, where, who, why, what, and how’s of life when you’re supposed to be sleeping! Calm the inner-chatter and wired feelings with practices like yoga and meditation, reading (preferably a physical book), journaling, and forth. This is an excellent habit for all, and particularly if you’re someone who has a hard time falling asleep initially. Find something that calms and soothes you (ideally a mentally low impact activity) and let it usher you into dreamland each night. Check out the article, 6 Healthier Ways To Unwind Tonight for a few more ideas.

Your environment can make or break your ability to get quality uninterrupted rest. So be sure that your room is set up in a way that is conducive to you getting the best sleep!

Here are a fundamentals for creating your very own sleep sanctuary —

Purpose: We’re creatures of habit, so the basic premise here is to have a set and understood purpose for your bedroom. This way when you step foot in the room or area every night, you’re preconditioned to relax, wind down and fall asleep easier. Your sleep space is NOT an office, a restaurant, or an entertainment hub. The bedroom is for sleep and intimacy. Rearrange your room if necessary so it's set up for only these two purposes.

Temperature: keep it cool in your bedroom. 63°-67° Fahrenheit (17.2°-19.4° Celsius) is ideal for sleep. It might feel chilly at first, but after getting bundled up in your comfy bed, you’ll sleep so much better in the cool.

Light: Remember that the absence of light signals the body that it’s time for sleep. So be sure that your room is as close to pitch black as possible. Having light sources of even the smallest amount in your bedroom can disrupt your sleep patterns – even those that you think are out of sight!

Remove (or unplug) electronics: in addition to lights, our electronics also produce noise and EMFs that are disruptive to sleep. Ideally you wouldn’t have any large appliances in your room (i.e. TVs, routers, etc.) but if you do, at least unplug them before hopping in bed.

It’s tempting to want to head to the health food store virtually or otherwise, and grab a natural sleep aid, and I’m a big fan of their efficacy and whole body benefits especially in contrast to commercial, conventional alternatives – however, it’s important to begin incorporating the lifestyle habits spoken about so far (in addition to maintaining a healthy diet!) first before doing so.
After taking care of diet and lifestyle factors, certain natural herbs and nutrients can work wonders for individuals dealing with poor sleep, especially due to stress, anxiety or hormone imbalance.
I recommend going for a formula rather than individual ingredients in most cases, but many people still get great results from isolated herbs and nutrients as well. These include things like magnesium glycinate or bisglycinate, 5-HTP, passionflower, chamomile and valerian to name a few.

And there you have it: 10 Tips for Naturally Better Sleep & a Healthier You!

As you work towards achieving your health and body goals, remember that sleep is one of your most powerful allies.

I hope this guide supports you in getting more restorative rest each night so you can enjoy more productive, healthier, happier, more energized days.

After implementing a couple of these strategies, come connect with me on social media (@purposefulwellnesswithlauren on all platforms) and let me know how they’ve helped! I’d love to hear from you.

Sweet Dreams...

- Lauren

More Like This

Are you or a loved one struggling with poor sleep or insomnia? Here are the 4 most common reasons why.
Could your evening routine be to blame for poor sleep? Discover 6 healthier alternatives to typical evening routines that can set you up for amazing sleep, each night and renewed energy each day.
Ever wonder why some people breeze through cold & flu season unscathed while others seem to catch every sniffle and cough going around? Dive into this comprehensive article of holistic strategies to bolster your immunity.
with Lauren
Sign up for exclusive wellness content, emails, private events and Q+As and other insights not shared anywhere else.
By entering your info, you’ll become a PW Insider – with FREE access to exclusive insights, private events and Q+As, and inspiring content, delivered with 💜 to your inbox. (Unsub anytime in a click.) You also agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy. We value your privacy and would never spam you.

Purposeful Wellness Corporation | Copyright © 2024 | All Rights Reserved