Dr. Mike Corradino is a clinical director and co-founder at Palomar Health Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness. After completing his Doctorate degree and opening a new clinic, Dr. Corradino is no stranger to stress. If stress keeps you up at night, or you just have a hard time falling asleep in general, his tips might just do the trick.
Here are some simple steps to help you fall asleep:
Block out the light
Our eyes and nervous systems have been adapting to the natural rhythm of light and darkness throughout our environment since human beings have been on the planet. But with recent advances, (air conditioning, artificial lighting, etc,) using a light at night can stimulate the optic nerve, which stimulates the penal gland, which stops the release of melatonin. It believes it’s daytime. Sleeping in complete darkness tells the brain that it’s nighttime. Be mindful of little lights, such as bright alarm clocks and bathroom lights, as this can certainly affect the melatonin released in the brain.
Out of sight, out of mind
Keep any electronics at least 3 feet away. Electromagnetic fields can also disturb the penal gland and interrupt the release of melatonin. This can be an alarm clock, smart phone, or other electrical device that sits on your nightstand.
Avoid alarming alarms
One thing people sometimes forget to think about is how they wake up. Disturbing alarm sounds can actually develop anxiety—the heart will start palpitating before the alarm even goes off. It’s going to disturb the mind and wake us up. Use alarm sounds that gradually increase from a low volume to a louder one, for example. I use my Fit Bit, which gives me a gentle wake up.
Reserve the bed for sleep and intimacy
You don’t want your brain to think that bed time can also mean writing emails or watching television. You want your brain to just train itself to go to sleep. Most sleep doctors will say to lay down, and if you’re not sleeping within 20 minutes, get out of bed, walk to a different room, and then do whatever you need to do to get yourself tired.
Be mindful of caffeine
Caffeine has approximately a 6 hour half-life. So if you’re getting out of work, let’s say at 6:00, and you have a caffeinated drink with dinner, half of the caffeine will be circulating through your system at midnight. Those under high stress may be more sensitive to caffeine, so if this is you, try to cut back after 3:00pm.
Establish a bed routine
I suggest going to the bathroom before bed, laying out your attire for the next day, and planning out the tasks you’d like to accomplish. If you have everything sorted before bed, your mind will be able to focus on sleep at night, not the things you have to do tomorrow.
Body, breath, mind
First, regulate your body by finding a comfortable position. Next, trick your brain by breathing as your body does while sleeping. If you inhale short and exhale longer, you’ll drift into a relaxed state of mind.
Simplicity is key
I use lavender aroma therapy myself. I put a little on my wrist and below my nostrils—it’s a great remedy to help. Chamomile or sleepy-time tea, as well as L-theanine, have evidence in their effectiveness.
Some of these tips may work for some, but not for others. Feel it out and see what works for you. I used these tips when I was having difficulty sleeping and found that they made a big difference in my sleep patterns. Keep in mind that medical advice and changes should be discussed with a physician.