For the past decade, wellness has been at the forefront of the cultural conversation.
But for all of the pieces we read about what obscure supplement you must try now and the $7 latte that will “reduce inflammation,” we seem to have forgotten one of the most simple–and impactful–tips of all: a good night’s sleep. Below, our guide to getting the best possible beauty rest, and why it’s so important.
Why You Need It
We loved neuroscientist Dr. Tara Swart’s manifestation guidebook The Source: The Secrets of the Universe, the Science of the Brain for countless reasons. Who doesn’t want to create their dream life? But our favorite part was the value she placed on sleep. Take it from a professional:
“While we sleep, we are building pathways, making new connections, and growing cells..to process the world we experience during waking hours, and refine our responses to what happens each day,” Dr. Swart writes. “The cleansing system of the brain [known as the glymphatic system] takes 7-8 hours to flush toxins [which is why that is the amount of sleep recommended for most individuals].”
If you don’t get sufficient sleep? “Sleep deprivation is linked to increased brain reactivity. A well-rested brain [can] make better decisions, respond more quickly to stimuli…have better memory recall…and you’ll find it easier to manage your emotions and mood.”
So, we understand the benefits. Now for the hard part: how do we get a good sleep?
It all starts in the morning…
Another one of our favorite neuroscientists, Dr. Andrew Huberman, is equally evangelical about sleep as our body’s first line of defense. But his top tip may surprise you: because it starts with your morning. Huberman advocates going for a walk outside immediately upon waking (or within at least 1 hour). If it’s bright and sunny, spend ten minutes outside. If it’s cloudy, extend that to twenty. This wakes up your circadian clock, the system in your body that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and will help you feel more alert during the times when you need to be. You don’t need to stare at the sun, you just need to get outside for a walk as soon as you can (and, sorry, but no sunglasses allowed). Do this again in the afternoon or early evening as the sun is setting to signal to your body that it’s time to start winding down.
…But an evening routine is essential, too
Speaking of winding down, while it starts in the morning, it doesn’t end there. If you don’t have a consistent evening routine (and we don’t mean wine, dessert, and Netflix), it’s likely you’ll struggle with sleep. Our preferred, science-backed routine is below, but feel free to test and modify based on what works for you.
Set communication boundaries
Put away your phone at least an hour (ideally, two) before you intend to go to sleep. To make this easy, set communication boundaries with friends, family, and colleagues. Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb.” If necessary, let your contacts know that you will get to any e-mails sent after 8:00 p.m. (adjust based on your desired bedtime) the following morning (after your circadian clock walk, of course).
Put your phone to bed (literally)
When we say “put away your phone,” we mean literally away, not upside down on your bedside table. The blue light that comes from technological devices disrupts the production of melatonin, meaning, even if you accidentally tap your phone on in the middle of the night, you could disrupt your entire sleep cycle. Plus, if you struggle with insomnia, we find that the closer you are to your phone when you wake up in the middle of the night, the more likely you are to reach for it–the ultimate “don’t” for restless sleepers. Sleep advocate Arianna Huffington even sells a “charging phone bed.”
Use a bedtime alarm
Many people sleep with their phone in their room because their phone clock is their alarm, and we get it–you need to wake up in the morning. That’s why one of our favorite investments is a Sunrise Alarm Clock; this option from Philips plugs into the wall (no bluetooth phone connection required). It has an evening timer that mimics sunset to help relax your body into sleep, and a morning timer that mimics the sunrise before playing soothing music to ease you into your wakeup. You’ll never use your phone alarm app again.
If you’re still struggling
We’ve been there. There’s nothing more frustrating than experiencing insomnia or sleeplessness. If your sleep problems are persistent (i.e., occurring more than once a month, or at any cadence that feels distressing for you), please see an MD.
If your sleeplessness is more sporadic (but still bothersome), here are a few of the supplements and practices that have worked for us during our restless periods.
We know, to many, a “caffeine detox” is a dread-inducing phrase. If that sounds like you, we have good news: we’re not asking you to do this permanently. With that said, according to holistic health coach Alisa Vitti, some studies have shown that only 10% of the population carries the CYP1A2 gene, which is responsible for breaking down caffeine. That means up to 90% of the population may be struggling to properly metabolize caffeine–and, especially in the case of women, who metabolize liquids at a slower rate than men. So, yes, even an early morning coffee may be keeping you up all night. Start by switching to matcha for ten days, then replacing that with herbal tea for ten days, and see if your sleep starts to improve–you may surprise yourself. One of our favorite caffeine replacements is Organifi’s Harmony, which not only contains naturally energizing maca and cacao, but also a number of roots, like shatavari, that are said to help regulate hormones. Win, win.
CBD with CBN
Though the medical jury is still out on CBD, on an anecdotal level, it has worked for us–and many friends of CDS–as a product that helps relax the mind before bed. Our favorite brands contain CBN, a cannabinoid compound like CBD that early studies have shown may help sleep. If you like gummies, try Wyld Gummies’ Elderberry, which also happens to be delicious. If you prefer tinctures, Juna’s Nightcap is a great option.
If you use any of our CDS-approved tips for shut-eye, tag us on social media using #casadesuna.