Optimize your Sleep

Updated: Jul 1

One of the FIRST things to change when changing your health, and your life.

Sleep is a... Funny thing. It's absolutely necessary for health and vitality, yet many of us have trouble getting enough. Whether that is self induced, or because of impeding factors inhibiting from getting adequate ZZZs.

It's hard, or impossible, to pinpoint any one thing that is the CAUSE of your sleep issues, as sleep issues can stem from a multitude of factors. Research shows that sleep quality is directly correlated to every aspect of your health, and every essential of health. Addressing every one of these essentials is, well, essential! Optimizing sleep is a delicate balance between proper nervous system functioning, nutrition and nutrient balance, gut health, hormonal balance, stress and psychological health, etc.

Why Value your ZZZ's??

Well.. what happens when we are sleep DEPRIVED???

  • Dramatically impaired performance.. Physically and mentally. (...earth shattering, I know).

  • Just a few more hours a week can significantly improve your memory and performance in literally every aspect.

  • Significantly depresses immune system

  • Negatively impacted HRV (heart rate variability), and how your nervous system is able to adapt to stress.

  • Reduced recovery and healing

  • Majority of these vital processes take place during sleep!!

Hormonal Balance

  • Can lead to a pre-diabetic state (Affects blood sugar regulation)

  • Melatonin production (Improves ability to fall asleep, as well as other positive physiological effects such as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits).

  • When circadian rhythms are off, melatonin production drops... which also hinders your mind and body to fall asleep, and get a restful night. Melatonin is also a strong antioxidant that combats nasty free radicals.

  • Melatonin is released by pituitary gland 'keeping you looking young'

  • Sleep deprivation leads to dysregulation of hormone production:

  • Growth hormone is primarily released at night! Testosterone is also released in higher quantities at night. Depriving your body of these normal fluctuations reduces the body's ability to recover and heal.

  • Cortisol spikes after 11pm to keep you awake.. so get to bed earlier! Take advantage of the time without excess cortisol running through your body.


  • Tumors have been shown to grow 2-3X faster (lab animals w/sleep dysfunction)

  • Increased heart disease and blood pressure

  • Along with other stress related issues; ulcers, constipation, mood disorders.

  • Promotes

Mental Benefits of Sleep

• One night of good sleep can improve your ability to learn new motor skills by 20%.

• Eight hours of quality sleep increases your ability to gain new insight into complex problems by 50%.

• Improves neuronal activity

• Improves memory consolidation

• Reduces risk of neurological conditions

• Needed to flush out and detoxify brain

Physical Benefits of Sleep

• Good sleep promotes skin health and a youthful appearance.

• Sleep improves hormonal balance:

:increases testosterone and growth hormone levels.

:Melatonin production

:Reduced cortisol

:Sleep controls optimal insulin secretion.

• Sleep increases athletic performance.

• Improves Recovery and Heart rate variability

• Sleep strengthens your immune system.

Easy Hacks to Sleep Better

  1. Calm your NERVOUS SYSTEM

• Many of us are STUCK in a sympathetic state.

  • Yes, addressing stresses in life can help... but let's face it. Stress, to some degree, will ALWAYS be there.

  • There are ways to tap into calming/balancing your nervous system.

Sleep, breath work, humming, tapping, essential oils, CBD, sauna, etc. We'll cover some of that.

• BUT, unleashing your body's ability to function and heal at it's highest capacity will be the most important, and most powerful factor. Which is why we START with the nervous system and the structure that surrounds the most important system to our existence.

  1. Addressing dysfunction in the spine (and in particular.. the upper cervical spine) will allow the very system that controls sleep to function optimally. NO amount of medication, yoga, essential oils, melatonin, herbs, tinctures, etc etc can affect a structural/neural dysfunction that ultimately affects the state of your nervous system.

So get your spine/nervous system checked by a doctor that specializes in this!! (Chiropractor)

Addressing spinal dysfunction will:

  1. Improve overall nervous system balance; parasympathetic and vagal tone, cerebral spinal fluid flow, blood flow.

  2. Your stress response will be more balanced through improving your HPA-axis (system that regulates neurotransmitter production and release to stimulate the adrenal glands to produce stress hormones)

  3. Reduce stress, tension, pain, other nagging symptoms, and other issues that may keep you up at night; preventing you from getting a full nights sleep, or quality sleep.

Breath-work and Meditation

DeStress, DeCompress

•Calm your Mind, Body, and Soul.

•Practice calming breath work

ex. 4 sec inhale -- 4 second hold-- 6 to 8 sec exhale

I like to do this while doing some easy mobility/stretching/fascial work

More tips:

  • Begin this process at least an hour before bed. Turn off the TV. Stop any unnecessary (all) texting/Facebooking/Instagraming/etc.

  • Meditate (Guided meditation apps)

  • Wholetones / Binaural beats

  • Light yoga

  • Mobility/stretching

  • Mouth Taping (if you're a 'mouth-breather' while sleeping)

  • Yes, taping your mouth shut. The practice of (more like the ability to) nasal breathing is essential for optimal respiratory function. Which, in turn, improves every aspect of health.

Make a HABIT out of going to bed earlier

  1. This starts with having a rock-solid morning routine. Having things to look forward to makes going to sleep much easier. Things that are not stressors that keep your mind racing. (Inspect the other article discussing how to produce a rock-solid morning routine)

  2. Set an alarm, for your bed time!

  3. Keep your bed time/routine consistent!

  4. Make a habit of turning off your phone/other electronics at least an hour before heading to bed. Spend this time with family, planning the following day, breath, stretch, READ -- from an actual book.

  5. Prep everything you'll need for the following day.. the night before. Scrambling every morning to get out the door is NOT an ideal way to start the day.

Update your plan for the following day.. and even the rest of the week!

Prepare what you will need physically the next day. Lunch, snacks, gym clothes, etc.

Reserve your bed/bed room for sleep

Annnnnd.... maybe a few other things... ;)

But Many of us like to eat/watch TV/do EVERYTHING in our bed rooms. Keep this as a sacred, peaceful area that your mind/body/soul delve into sleep mode as soon as you step foot into the room.

Sleep Hygiene

• Lying on your back while support the natural CURVES of your spine to keep a healthy spine will ultimately support a healthy nervous system. (cervical and lumbar support)

•Lying on your side, or on your back with multiple pillows will force your spine into an unnatural state, stressing your nervous system.

• Make a HABIT out of going to bed earlier

  1. This starts with having a rock-solid morning routine. Having things to look forward to makes going to sleep much easier. Things that are not stressors that keep your mind racing. (Inspect the other article discussing how to produce a rock-solid morning routine)

  2. Set an alarm, for your bed time!

  3. Keep your bed time/routine consistent!

  4. Make a habit of turning off your phone/other electronics at least an hour before heading to bed. Spend this time with family, planning the following day, breath, stretch, READ -- from an actual book.

  5. Prep everything you'll need for the following day.. the night before. Scrambling every morning to get out the door is NOT an ideal way to start the day.

Dirty Electricity and Blue light

Poor sleep has never been at the epidemic levels that it is today.. much of which can be attributed to the overuse and abuse of electronics. Between the EMF that is emitted, to the blue light that is constantly bombarding your eyes, nervous system, and stress your mitochondria.

  1. Turn off ALL electronics. Unplug ones near bed.

  2. Get in touch with NEATURE

  3. Get Grounded! Walking barefoot on the earth is a powerful, yet simple practice to literally balance the electric energy within your body. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/

  4. Grounding pad or sheet.

  5. PEMF mat


  • Shoot for total darkness

  • Blue light filters for your devices: Our eyes/brains are not designed to take in all wavelengths of light at night. It inhibits melatonin production and keeps your mind in a wakeful state.

  1. Most devices have a setting to activate. Otherwise: download an app that takes out blue light waves. You probably shouldn't be taking in all wavelengths of light at night, just as you would in the day. https://justgetflux.com/

IRIS is good too!


  1. Use incandescent light bulbs around the house, or at least where you spend most of your time before bed.

  2. Salt Lamps

  3. Get some blue light blocking glasses!

  4. These ones are actually decent looking.. https://www.swanwicksleep.com/products/swannies-blue-light-blocking-glasses

  5. Complete, utter darkness while you sleep.

  6. Any light will disrupt your natural sleep processes. Light will inhibit your pineal gland from producing the necessary melatonin to induce sleep (actually, light stimiluates the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which inhibits the pineal gland from producing melatonin).

  7. Black out your windows and turn off all blinking/glowing things.

  8. **Soak in natural sunlight throughout the day.

  9. Just get outside and get moving! You'll feel refreshed, and ready to hit the sack later. It's a great way to balance your natural circadian rhythms!

Temp Control

Keep it Cool

  1. Keep that thermostat at or below 70 degrees.

  2. Chilly Blanket

  3. Chilly pad

  4. Comfortably cover core-- leave extremities open.

  5. Shunts blood to important areas that require healing during sleep.

  6. Helps body let off heat.


  1. Eat REAL food. Plenty of posts diving deeper into proper nutrition.

  2. Avoid eating within a few hours of going to bed.

  3. Your body is busy healing and repairing. You have plenty of energy stores to carry out these processes. Many other metabolically taxing systems are not engaged at night. Digestion will be.. not ideal. And you will disrupt your deep sleep stages.

  4. Avoid (excess) sugars (throughout the day. most days. or, just everyday) but especially before bed. A dump of insulin at night is not favorable.

  5. Shoot for your last meal to consist of good quality proteins, healthy fats and nutrient dense veggies. (soooo... kinda like the rest of your meals..)

Calming, healing, detoxifying BATH

Warm water, a cup of epsom bath salt, several drops of one, or a combo of essential oils below.

Track your sleep

  1. Various apps out there that will even start your alarm when it's the best time to wake you., based on the phase of sleep you are in. (Sleep Cycle app for Apple. Sleep Bot on Android. Google for others)

  2. This can be beneficial as you can see what types of activities, bed times, foods, exercise regimes, etc affect your sleep.

  3. WHOOP

  4. Oura Ring

  5. Some other decent trackers out there.

  6. Leaves no room for assuming/guessing.

  1. Read a book

  2. Fictional: Utilize your more creative side of your brain. We are also terrible at truly multitasking, as much as we like to believe we're good at it. So reading something fictional takes your mind off of all the other clutter in your world.

  3. Self development, fulfilling, re-fueling type of book.

  4. Fill your spirit and soul


Just as the word suggests... they're 'supplemental' to your lifestyle and dietary choices.

Key ingredients for Restorative Sleep

  • Melatonin helps you get to sleep quick obtaining a faster and deeper sleep, increased REM sleep, and reset the Body clock.

  • 5-HTP releases critical brain neurotransmiters burned out by modern day stressors, increasing calm feelings of well being.

  • L-Theanine helps you to sleep for longer periods, awakened less often by feelings of anxiety and stress, while feeling awake and refreshed.

  • GABA: Plays a key role in healthy sleep patterns. GABA is produced within the VLPO, and is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that plays many roles within the central nervous system. One such role is to lower the resting membrane potential of neurons, hence making them less susceptible to be stimulated. More specifically, the neurons in the 'neocortex' (interprets the environment around us-temperature, touch, sound, pain, movement, interpreting communication and integrating all of these together) are inhibited, so you are not responsive/don't wake up to small sensory inputs from the environment. Supplementation is controversial as many products do not adequately supply the brain with GABA, or any GABA. You will have to find a particular form of GABA called 'phGABA' that is able to cross the blood brain barrier.


3 Essential Vitamins for sleep

These vitamins are notoriously deficient/insufficient in the majority of the population, and are associated with a whole host of physiological dysfunctions. Including sleep!

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin B12

Attaining these vitamins from whole food sources will be best, but proper supplementation can also be necessary and quite helpful. And lets be real, all other vitamins are necessary when it comes to overall health, and even your sleep cycles. So eating a wide variety of high quality foods to obtain these nutrients in their most natural state is going to be ideal!

3 Essential Minerals

  • Magnesium

  • Calcium

  • Potassium

Each of these plays critical roles in nervous system function and balance. Which includes the production of certain neurotransmitters, like GABA. Each has been shown to affect different stages of sleep, which impacts the overall quality of sleep.

Eating a wide variety of whole, organic, high quality foods will provide your body with a natural plethora of nutrients; including a wide spectrum of minerals. Add some Celtic sea salt, or Himalayan salt to your cooking.

In terms of supplementing, magnesium is probably the one to start with as the vast majority of our population is deficient and do not tend to get enough from our food. I like magnesium glycinate and threonate for calming the nervous system (lactate for the gut).

  • Aromatherapy with Essential Oils

  • Lavender

  • Chamomile

  • Orange

  • Vetiver

  • Geranium

  • Melissa

  • Sandalwood

  • Bergmot

  • Rose

  • Ylang ylang

  • DoTerra Blends

  • Calming

  • Balance

  • Serenity

  • NOTE

  • Diffuse

  • Topically

  • Apply to chest, back of neck, and bottom of feet with an organic oil (fractionated coconut, almond, etc)

  • These oils are POWERFUL. Which is why you want the highest quality oils possible. To get your $$$ worth and greatest possible benefits. More and more companies are coming out with good products.


  • Wine?

It's a common perception that alcohol helps you get to sleep, which may be true, but when it comes to getting restful sleep, it may actually inhibit you from getting the restoreful ZZZs that your body, mind and soul require. Alcohol has been shown to disrupt deeper stages of sleep. So your sleep quality will go down, and your body and brain will be negatively impacted.

But, if you DO drink, make sure you are getting GOOD wine, or spirits. Wine that is grown, harvested, and produced utilizing natural methods and using organic sources. More on the Wine Industry HERE.

  • Dry Farm Wine, Fit Vine Wine are easy go-to's.

  • Look for organically grown, biodynamic wine

  • Grapes grown in, and wine produced in countries such as South Africa, Spain, Italy, France, and Bulgaria are great ways to go as they typically grow, harvest, and produce high quality products with no additives.

Herbal Teas

  • Obviously.. you'll want to avoid all caffeinated beverages (after 2pm)

  • Chamomile

  • Lavender

  • Ginger

To no surprise... go for organic brands, and even better, loose leaf tea from a local tea shop.

  • Make your own!

  • Boil water with ginger root, Tumeric. Garnish with a splash of raw, organic apple cider vinegar and cinnamon.


  • Reishi and cordyceps mushrooms

Powerful Adaptogens to help with the stress response, heal your gut, and calm your nervous system.

References and Resources

Kids, technology and sleep


More on Melatonin and L-theanine

From IDLife: "In addition to helping you fall asleep and bestowing a feeling of overall comfort and well being, melatonin has proven to have an impressive array of *anti-cancer benefits. It’s a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps combat inflammation. In fact, melatonin is so integral to your immune system that a lack of it causes your thymus gland, a key component of your immune system, to atrophy.3 Melatonin may even have a role in slowing the aging of your brain. *http://www.amepc.org/tgc/article/view/976/1877 L-theanine is thought to have both antioxidant and relaxant effects. Some studies have shown that the amino acid may also be helpful in lowering lipids in the blood, fighting obesity, and preventing cognitive dysfunction and stroke."

How can you MAINTAIN your melatonin levels?

1. Get at least 8 hours sleep

2. Avoid night shift work