The 1 Thing You Can Do to Get More Sleep

Find out which common problem keeps you awake.

Ashley Batz Photography

“During sleep, the conscious mind takes a break,” according to sleep expert Dr. Jonathan Parker. “It is an opportunity to connect with your own inner knowing and ask for guidance.”

While that sounds amazing, what if you can’t sleep? You likely care less about connecting with your inner knowing and more about staying awake during meetings. Well, Dr. Parker wants to help you do both, and he hosted a seminar at The Assembly packed with tips for improving your sleep.

What is one thing you can do to get more sleep? Figure out the root cause.

The truth is women need more sleep than men. But that doesn’t mean we’re getting it. In studies, women report poorer quality of sleep, more insomnia, and higher uses of sleep medication. And our periods don’t help. From the week before it arrives up until day three of your period, your sleep is more likely to be disrupted. Common complaints include feeling hot, anxious, and more fatigued.

So what is one thing you can do to get more sleep? Figure out the root cause of your sleep problems. Dr. Parker, who helps run the Sleep Performance Institute, says there are three major types of sleep issues. Let’s review them below. Which one sounds like you?

Circadian Delay

What it feels like: It takes you an hour to fall asleep, but once you do, you sleep well. When the your alarm goes off, it’s very difficult to get up.   

Solutions: Reset your body clock. Dr. Parker recommends using a 10,000 lux light in the morning within 30 minutes of waking up. Make sure your retina makes contact with the light for at least 30 minutes. Then, at night time, take half a milligram of melatonin four hours before bed. If you want to go to bed at 11 p.m., take it at 7 p.m. Melatonin is a hormone and antioxidant that helps regulate our body’s clock. It is not a sleeping pill. Do that for two weeks, and then gradually move the melatonin closer to bedtime. After one to three months, you shouldn’t need it anymore.

Restlessness

What it feels like: You can’t get comfortable in your bed. You keep rolling over. You’re literally tossing and turning.

Solutions: You may need to take iron and vitamin D supplements. It’s especially common for women to have iron deficiencies, since they lose iron with their periods every month. Talk to your doctor about getting a screening for iron and vitamin D deficiencies and inquire about a supplement regimen.

Overactive Mind

What it feels like: Your mind refuses to shut off at night. You wake up and can’t fall back asleep. When your alarm goes off, it’s a relief. You can finally get out of bed.

Solutions: Stress activates our fight or flight response and makes it difficult to sleep. Practice meditation before bed, to help slow your brain down. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to your own “drowsy cues” and go to bed as soon as you start to feel sleepy. Rituals like herbal tea or a hot bath before bed can also help.

In addition to addressing these specific issues, Dr. Parker has general tips for better sleep. They include common advice, like going to be at the same time every night, avoiding caffeine after 12pm, and turning your screens to night-time mode. But he also recommends making your bed every morning, since research shows that people who do so tend to get better sleep. And he suggests visiting an acupuncturist to work on sleep issues. Members of The Assembly are in luck — we have an in-house acupuncturist who visits the clubhouse every Tuesday at 4pm. Here’s to sweet dreams! Or at least seven to nine hours of sleep. 

 

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