Best Practices To Sleep Like A Baby

Feb 15, 2024

What is sleep? Sleep is a process whereby a barrier is created between your consciousness and the outside world. Although you can wake from this process, you cannot see, feel, or hear what is happening around you.

Why is sleep important anyway?  I will catch up on sleep when I die.  When I hear this, I always ask, “Which assisted living facility are you on the waitlist for?”  This is why:

  • Sleep removes toxins from your brain, increasing day-to-day cognitive function and decreasing the risk of dementia.
  • Sleep restores your memory, making all your repetitive tasks stick and increasing your attention to detail.
  • Sleep improves your mental outlook and enhances your mood.
  • Sleep provides recovery from exercise and physical injury.
  • Sleep improves insulin sensitivity and helps keep blood sugar balanced.
  • Sleep rejuvenates your immune system, keeping it in top working order. 

Aim for being in bed for 7-9 hours each night.  This does not equate to 7-9 hours of sleep because your body fluctuates through sleep stages.  Committing to this amount of time to be in bed will ensure your body of proper restorative function.

Timing is also important.  Deep sleep (one of the sleep stages) happens between 11 pm and 2 am.  This sleep stage is where your brain detoxifies and your body repairs.  Do your best to be in bed and asleep before 11 pm to reap all the brain-detoxifying and body-repairing benefits of deep sleep.



  1. Finish eating 3 hours before you go to bed.  Sleep is a parasympathetic activity - rest and digest.  Your parasympathetic nervous system controls both activities - it just can’t do both well simultaneously.  If you eat too close to going to bed (even your bowl of ice cream), your body will prioritize digestion, and you will not get the quality sleep you desire.
  2. Stop working 2 hours before you go to bed.  Give your brain and nervous system time to move from sympathetic (go-go-go) to parasympathetic (rest-rest-rest).
  3. Stop using electronics  1 hour before you go to bed.  I know this is a big ask, but the blue light from electronics prevents the natural increase in melatonin, which helps you get quality sleep.
  4. Go to bed and wake at about the same time every day.  I am not asking you to be exact.  Make your best attempt to stay within a 1-hour window for bedtime and waketime.  Combining bedtime with a routine will signal your body that it is time to rest.  As a parent, I can attest ~  the days when the kids were happy were when the bedtime routine was followed the night before.
  5. Sleep in a cool, dark room. (Think cave)  How cool, you ask?   Studies suggest 65 - 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  How dark, you ask?  So dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face.  You may need to cover or dim the lights on your bedside clock and get black-out shades.
  6. Get sunlight on your eyes and skin early in the morning (10-15 minutes). This is important for resetting your circadian rhythm (24-hour wake-sleep cycle). A good night's sleep starts in the morning.
  7. Avoid alcohol.  Ok, another big ask.  First, it was your phone, and now it is your adult beverage.  Have your wine or cocktail, just stop 2 hours before bed.  Contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not induce sleep.  If you consume alcohol up to the time you go to bed, just like food, your body now has to prioritize detoxification over rest.  This means your brain takes a backseat to your liver.
  8. Sleep medications - be aware!  Sleep aids like Ambien don’t induce sleep as much as they put your brain into a comatose state, actually measured in sleep studies.  To make matters worse, females metabolize these drugs differently than men.  In June 2015 American Journal of Public Health found that people prescribed sleeping pills were twice as likely to be in car crashes as other people.  One sleep aid comes with a black box warning because it was associated with over 600 car accidents in women who had taken the medication properly the night before.  Metabolizing the drug slowly meant that they were essentially driving as though they were drunk.  
  9. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon.  If you have sleep issues and drink caffeinated beverages in the afternoon, this may be the reason.  Some people process caffeine slowly, so it lingers in their system and prevents sleep.  Others process caffeine quickly; an afternoon caffeine bump does not interfere with sleep.  KNOW WHICH CAFFEINE CAMP YOU FALL INTO.
  10. Balance your movement patterns during the day.  Ultradian rhythms are like mini-versions of circadian rhythms (our twenty-four-hour sleep and waking cycles), except they are much shorter, occurring many times over a single day.  If you move constantly or sit all day, each one can negatively impact your sleep quality.  If you have an office job - take periodic breaks throughout the day to stretch your legs and get some fresh air or sunlight.  If you are constantly on the go, take time (5-10 minutes), especially as you transition from work to home, to do some deep breathing, listen to calming music, close your eyes and visualize your best evening, or take a slow walk (without your phone) to notice everything around you.  This is a great article on why and how to improve your Ultradian Rhythm.  

Use the Science of Ultradian Rhythms To Boost Productivity, Energy, and Willpower - Blue Zones



Don’t be overwhelmed by this list.  Everyone is different.  If you share a bed or a bedroom with someone, you may need to talk about how you want to improve your sleep.  Don’t expect others to make the same changes or any changes.   Start with the easiest item for you.  As that becomes a habit, move to another item.  Moving up and down the list, incorporating these items into your lifestyle will have you sleeping like a baby.

Live a balanced life!

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