Sleep your Way to Better Thyroid Health, Immune Function, Weight Loss & More
Want to know about a completely free therapy that can help you lose weight, improve your thyroid, boost immune function, and help your weight overall?
It's called getting enough sleep.
And if I read the benefits to you of sleeping (1) it would read exactly like an infomercial.
You would sit there and tell yourself it's too good to be true and, yet, here we are.
It is true and sleep is one of the single best things that you can do for your health regardless of whatever problem you are dealing with.
Sleep is the process by which your body recovers. It helps your brain organize the events of the day (2). It helps regulate your hormones (3) and sets in rhythm your hormones for the following day. And this is just the beginning.
I'm going to spend my time telling you why sleeping is so important, instead, I'm going to tell you how you get more sleep and better sleep.
I shouldn't have to convince you that getting sleep is important for your health.
Because all you need to do is think about a night that you only got 3-4 hours worth of sleep.
How did you feel the next morning? Would you want to live that way every single day?
The chances are slim that you would!
Fortunately, most people are sleeping longer than 3-4 hours a night.
Unfortunately, they aren't sleeping the recommended 8+ hours that the body needs.
Sleeping 7 hours per night won't leave you feeling like a night of 3-4 hours will, at least not in the short term.
But it's clear that humans accrue a sleep debt over a long period of time.
So even if you are only getting 7 hours of sleep per night, it WILL eventually catch up with you and result in problems.
What's crazy is that 8 hours of restful sleep is just the beginning. You may be someone who needs 9 hours each night!
Personally, I fall between the 8 and a half to 9 hour mark.
Where do you think you fall? (let me know in the comments below!)
12 Tips for Getting Better Sleep
As I mentioned, we are mostly going to focus on tips and tricks that you can use to get better sleep.
Every time I talk about getting more sleep there is someone who says that it's impossible for them to sleep more and this blog post is in response to those people!
There's always a way.
It may cost some time, it may cost some money, and it will definitely take some trial and error, but there is always a way.
I've personally spent many hours trying to optimize my own sleep, and the sleep of other patients, and I've learned a thing or two along the way.
Check out these tips if you are having trouble getting your required 8+ hours of restful sleep (4) every night:
#1. Get a sleep divorce
This doesn't mean you need to get a divorce from your spouse!
Instead, it means that you may benefit from sleeping in another area or another room away from your spouse.
Why would you do this?
Because it turns out that not all sleeping partners are created equal!
Some people prefer to sleep in a slightly warmer or slightly cooler environment compared to what you prefer, they may prefer a different texture to their sheets or comforter, they may snore, they may toss and turn all night, and so on.
The key to understanding is that whatever sleeping arrangement works for YOU may not work for someone else.
You don't have to move to a different room either.
You may find success in simply getting a new and separate bed in the same room or you may want to completely sleep in a separate room if that works better for you.
Don't be afraid to play around with this one to find out what works best for you.
#2. Set your temperature 1-2 degrees cooler
Most people probably already know that reducing the temperature in your room may help you get better sleep.
Humans can produce a lot of excess heat while they sleep, especially during REM cycles, which means that your body temperature will most likely fluctuate during sleep.
If you keep the temperature of your house the same during the day as you do when you sleep then you will probably find that you are hotter than you want to be.
Cooling off the temperature
How can you do this? Well, there are a couple of ways.
You don't necessarily have to turn down the AC unit in your entire house just to cool down the temperature in your bedroom.
You can reduce your perceived temperature by using cooler sheets or lighter blankets, you can change what type of clothes that you wear to bed, you can put a cooling device under your blanket to keep you cooler, you can sleep with the fan on or the window open, and so on.
The key here is to get the temperature around you lower than whatever level you normally like during the day.
During the summer, our AC is set to around 78 degrees. When I go to bed I just knock down the temperature by 1-2 degrees and call it a day.
Things can get a little complicated when you factor in the difference in temperatures between rooms, how well your AC unit works, where your bedroom is in relation to the sun, your local environment, and even humidity.
Because of these factors, you will probably need to tweak or play around with several factors to get everything just right.
Trust me when I say it will be worth it, though!
#3. Have more sex (earlier)
Sex, just like sleep, is something I shouldn't have to convince you is a good thing (5).
What you may not realize, though, is that having sex can actually improve your SLEEP.
When it comes to activities that you do IN your bed the general advice is to avoid anything except sleeping and having sex.
So sex is something that is okay to do IN your bed but it should not be done right BEFORE bed.
Having sex earlier in the day will help your body calm down, regulate your hormones, and help your body relax when it is finally time for bed.
My recommendation is to try and have sex at least 2 hours away from whenever you plan to go to bed.
Sometimes having sex can be stimulatory to the body and may make relaxing immediately after more difficult but your mileage may vary.
If you are someone that can have sex and go straight to bed then more power to you.
#4. Take supplements
Supplements are another way to augment the quality of your sleep with over-the-counter supplements.
Most people are well aware of the most common sleep supplement melatonin.
Oddly enough, most scientists will tell you that melatonin simply doesn't work that well compared to placebo or anything else.
I haven't found this to be true in the real world, though.
I have personally used melatonin before with great success and I have recommended it to many patients in the past with success as well.
Melatonin is not without issues, though, because taking it will suppress your body's ability to create melatonin by itself.
This creates a sort of pseudo dependence on melatonin if you take it daily for a long period of time.
My recommendation is to try to stay away from frequently using melatonin and only use it when absolutely necessary.
Have a big day tomorrow and want to make sure you get enough sleep? Melatonin may be the answer.
Need to get some sleep because you're in a hotel with an uncomfortable bed? Try some melatonin.
Trying to switch your schedule around for work or something similar? Give melatonin a try.
Try to avoid using melatonin on a daily basis, though, as getting off of it may be difficult.
When dosing melatonin your goal should be to get the minimum amount of melatonin possible to help you get to sleep.
For most people that will be around 1-2mg 20-30 minutes before you go to bed.
Many supplements come with the standard 3mg dose which is often more than necessary for most people.
Try to find melatonin supplements that come in 1mg increments so you can adjust your dose as necessary.
If the standard capsules or tablets aren't working for you then try liquid or chewable melatonin as that can often make all of the difference.
In the world of supplements, there are also other sleep ingredients that can be helpful.
Some of these include:
- Valerian (6)
- Chamomile (7)
- Passionflower (8)
- Ashwagandha (Relora works better than KSM-66 for sleep in my experience)
You can often find these other nutrients in herbal teas or supplements designed to help with sleep.
#5. Use a screen shader
If you haven't already then you need to get yourself a screen shader.
A screen shader is just an application or a setting that you can put on your devices that blocks or dramatically reduce how much blue light is being produced by your screen.
Nowadays, these screen shaders are often built into your operating system and are usually under the name "night mode" or "sleep mode" or something similar.
These settings work to alter how much blue light is being produced by your screen and usually replace it with a yellow or orange color.
Why does this matter?
Because blue light has a suppressive effect on melatonin in your brain.
Our eyes are sensitive to certain types of light which can help your brain understand if we should be winding down or if we should be winding up.
When you first wake up in the morning, for instance, it makes sense that early morning sunshine should wake you up to help you get ready for the day.
It also makes sense that as the sun goes down, our eyes receive less blue light which tells the brain we need to start getting ready for bed.
Technology can throw this cycle into disarray quite quickly.
Are you someone who watches TV before bed? Do you look at your phone before right before you fall asleep? Are you watching Netflix before bedtime on your iPad or tablet?
If so, you are disrupting this normal rhythm that your body goes through because you aren't allowing your brain to get the rest from the blue light.
You aren't letting your brain go into "nighttime mode" and you're preventing your melatonin levels from naturally increasing (9).
If so, the solution is simple.
Block that blue light in whatever way you can and you should be good to go.
I was surprised by how much blue light impacted my own sleep and I noticed a huge difference when I started to pay attention to it.
I have a pair of blue light blocking glasses that I use when watching TV and I enable a screen shader on my computers/phones which is automatically activated during the waking hours of the day.
I have it set to mimic the hours that the sun is up naturally but you can do whatever works for you.
I have noticed that blue light seems to impact some people more than others.
My wife, for instance, has absolutely no issue with blue light right before bed.
#6. Keep a worry journal
Are you someone that has a hard time shutting off your brain when you lay down in bed?
Do you start to think about all of the things on your to-do list?
Do you worry about things that aren't even really an issue but appear to be in the moment?
If so, then a worry journal may be the solution for you!
A worry journal is simple in concept and highly effective.
To use this therapy all you need to do is put a physical book or journal next to your bed with something to write on.
Then, when you start to worry when you lay your head down at night, you can write whatever you are thinking about in your journal.
The act of physically writing it down and putting your thoughts into words can actually be therapeutic by itself.
When you write things down it's almost as if you are removing those thoughts from your head and putting them somewhere else where they can cause problems.
Then when you are done writing about your concerns or worries you will physically close your journal and book which is like closing the worry from your brain.
Use your worry journal to write down your to-do list, things that may be causing you anxiety, things that you are worried about, things you may need to do tomorrow, thoughts or ideas that you have, and pretty much anything that is running through your mind at night.
I've found this to be highly effective for people who tend to run a little bit anxious and for those who have a hard time shutting down their brain or thoughts.
#7. Use a white noise machine
This is an obvious one but often overlooked.
There are all sorts of sounds and frequencies that can be used to help your brain relax and help you fall asleep.
When people think of white noise they often think of that crackle from your TV that happens when you find a blank channel but it doesn't have to be just that.
White noise itself is just background noise that can help block out other noises.
I have a few sounds that I have used over the years including the frequency that the earth hums at which was really effective for me.
There are other natural noises that you can look into including:
- Running water
- Ocean waves
- And so on
Perhaps more important than the noise itself is the habit of turning on the same noise right before bed.
When you get into a rhythm and habit of playing the same sound every single night you can train your brain that that particular sound means it's time to rest and time to sleep.
You will need to play around with the volume of the noise because you don't want it too loud that it will keep you awake and you don't want it too low that it doesn't have any impact.
I'm also not a big fan of putting earbuds in your ear when you sleep but if you want to try that you can as well.
You don't have to break the bank on these white noise machines, either, as some are very inexpensive.
#8. Eliminate caffeine/coffee completely
Everyone gets upset when I talk about coffee and caffeine but the truth is that eliminating caffeine and coffee is a must if you are having trouble sleeping.
There are many people out there that do not metabolize caffeine to the same degree as other people which means they are more sensitive.
If you metabolize caffeine slower than the average person then it will stay in your system longer and because it's a stimulant, it will prevent you from getting to the deep relaxing state that you need for deep sleep.
Because of this, people vary in their sensitivity and tolerance to caffeine.
In addition, I've found that tolerance to caffeine can change throughout your life as well!
Many people, perhaps even including you, believe that they need caffeine or coffee to function or feel productive.
This need for caffeine usually stems from a lack of sleep and reliance upon caffeine to be the upper you need to compensate for that problem.
Counterintuitively, removing caffeine and coffee often helps increase your productivity because it helps improve your sleep quality.
There's nothing better than running on the pure power of your own brain with a full night's rest.
The productivity you get from caffeine/coffee pales in comparison to your own natural brain power and productivity.
Because of the variability in how people tolerate caffeine, it's hard to predict where you fall on the spectrum and how much you should use.
My general recommendation is to simply cut back your dose of caffeine/coffee by half of whatever you are currently using.
If you are someone that has thyroid problems, adrenal problems, fatigue, or insomnia, then cutting back on all sources of caffeine would be best.
If you cut down your dose of caffeine and notice that you start to get headaches then that's an indication that you are withdrawing and a likely sign that you were taking too much!
#9. Use meditation!
Meditation is an incredibly effective way to improve your sleep!
I've personally used meditation to help with my sleep during stressful times in my life.
For whatever reason, it's hard to get people to meditate even though it's completely free and can be done by anyone.
Here are two different ways that you can start meditating right away:
- Release meditation technique - 20 minute guided meditation
- Kirtan Kriya meditation - 12 minute guided meditation
In terms of importance, meditation is right up there at the top so don't neglect this one!
You may also find success in using mindfulness too, by the way.
#10. Wear blue light blocking glasses
This one connects back to #5 because this is just another way to block out blue light.
I've included this here, though, because it's not always possible to use screen shaders on your devices because some devices don't have that option!
Because of this, it's always a good idea to have a pair of blue light blocking glasses that you can throw on if you want to watch technology before bed.
They are very cheap and very effective at blocking blue light.
I would recommend a pair like these.
#11. Change your pillow
Next on the list of things you should play around with is your pillow!
Over the years, I've spent hundreds of dollars trying to find the perfect pillow just for me.
I finally found one that was amazing only to accidentally lose it in a hotel in California on a trip to Disneyland.
It was a sad day indeed.
Whether you realize it or not, your pillow can have a huge impact on the depth and quality of your sleep.
And certain types of pillows are better for people who sleep on their side, versus people who sleep on their back, versus people who sleep on their stomach.
You should spend some time playing around with various types of pillows to see what suits you the best.
Don't be afraid to spend some money figuring out what works for you!
If you are someone who is trying to lose 50 pounds and your sleep is preventing you from losing that weight, spending a couple of hundreds of dollars figuring out what gets you there will be worth it if it helps you lose that weight!
When it comes to your health, always think downstream and consider your expenses and investment.
My current favorite pillow can be found here.
It works great for many people because you can adjust the fluff to suit your needs.
#12. Try massage therapy or chiropractor work
I've seen a lot of people who have very tense muscles in their neck and head area which makes relaxing at night difficult.
Tension in this area can limit the mobility of your neck which can lead to nerve impingement and other problems which will wake you up at night!
I know many people who suffer from numbness and tingling while sleeping related to neck tension (the nerves that innervate your hand START in your neck).
You can physically release these muscles through brute force, massage therapy, or massage guns.
Releasing this tension may dramatically help improve your sleep and improve the depth of your sleep, especially if you are waking up frequently due to nerve-related issues.
The following therapies can be helpful if you suffer from any of these issues:
- Myofascial release (10)
- Trigger point therapy (11)
- Chiropractic work
- Massage therapy
- Massage gun therapy
- Acupuncture (12)
If you are having trouble getting quality sleep then make sure you try some of these tips out!
It's been my experience that there is always a way to improve the depth and quality of your sleep.
It may take some trial and error but it is always possible.
Spending time and energy improving your sleep may be one of the single best things you can do for your health, your weight, your immune system, and your body.
And now I want to hear from you:
Are you struggling to get good quality sleep?
How many hours per night of sleep are you getting?
Have you tried any of the tips or tricks listed here?
If not, are you planning on trying any?
Let me know in the comments below!
References (Click to Expand)