Are you sleep deprived?  It’s a miserable state to be in. Chronic sleeplessness is debilitating and affects your health and wellbeing.

Jim is putting on weight for the first time in his life, eating in the middle of the night, because his sleep cycle has been so erratic for the last 3 months and he is tired and crankier during the day. So I have been doing some research on the topic.

Sleep disorders are all too common in our stressed-out, super-busy lives.  Inadequate sleep can quickly sabotage your efforts at getting healthy and losing weight. When you don’t get enough sleep it adversely affects hormones and makes you hungry and store fat (like Jim). It makes you more reactive, you have trouble focusing and you get easily overwhelmed and stressed out.

One study found that just one partial night’s sleep could create insulin resistance, paving the path for diabesity and many other problems. Others show poor sleep contributes to cardiovascular disease, mood disorders, poor immune function, and lower life expectancy.

Most of us need seven or eight hour of sleep a night in order to be alert, energetic and effective during the day. One of my favorite doctors, Dr. Mark Hyman, who is an expert in Functional Medicine and the author of the New York Times’ bestsellers, The Blood Sugar Solution  and The Ultra Mind Solution offers these eight strategies to achieve a better night’s sleep…

1. Get on a regular schedule. Going to sleep and waking at the same time each day creates a rhythm for your body. Only use your bed for sleep or romance. Don’t keep a television in your bedroom: Studies show the artificial, bright light can disrupt brain activity and alter sleep hormones like melatonin. Your bedroom should be a quiet, peaceful haven.

2. Get natural sunlight. Aim for at least 20 minutes of sunshine every day, preferably in the morning, which triggers your brain to release chemicals that regulate sleep cycles. Avoid computers, smart phones, tablets and television one or two hours before bed. You might also try low blue light exposure for about three hours before bed. Low blue spectrum light helps your brain reset for sleep and increase melatonin.

3. Use an acupressure mat. This helps stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and create deep relaxation. Lay on it for about 30 or more minutes before bed.

4. Get grounded. At times, electromagnetic frequencies can impair sleep. I recommend turning off WiFi and keeping all of your electronic devices away from your bed. Create a common area charging station in your home and encourage all your family members to “check in” their devices before bed.

5. Clear your mind. Everyone knows how something resonating on your mind can hinder sleep. Turning your mind off can become a challenge. Keep a journal or notebook by your bed and write down your to-do list or ruminations before you go to sleep so you can close your eyes and make it less likely for your mind to spin.

6. Perform light stretching or yoga before bed. This relaxes your mind and body. Research shows daily yoga can improve sleep significantly.

7. Use herbal therapies. I recommend 300 to 600 milligrams (mg) of passionflower or 320 to 480 mg of valerian root extract before bed. Other natural sleep supplements include melatonin or magnesium. Potato starch mixed into a glass of water before bedtime can also help. Start slowly with one teaspoon and gradually build up the dose. This feeds good gut bacteria and improves blood sugar control while helping you drift into sleep. You can find sleep and other quality supplements in my store.

8. Use relaxation practices. Guided imagery, meditation or deep breathing calm your mind and help you drift into sleep. Try calming essential oils such as lavender, Roman chamomile or ylang ylang. Many patients get amazing results with my UltraCalm CD.

I’ve found these eight strategies help me get a better night’s sleep; and I encourage you to give them a try.

Dr. Hyman points out that if you find yourself still struggling with sleep after you’ve employed these strategies then you need to see a practitioner who can check whether things like food sensitivities, thyroid problems, menopause, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, stress and depression are interfering with your sleep. If your problems continue, you may also need to get tested to see if you have a sleep disorder.

Wishing you a good night’s sleep and remember to take naps.