I'm A Performance-Based MD: This Is How To Sleep Through The Entire Night
Sleep is one of our favorite topics here at mbg, and for a very good reason: While it represents an integral cornerstone of overall health and well-being, according to the CDC, over one-third1 of Americans don't actually get enough of it. The good news? A variety of sleep hygiene tweaks can help support rest from the time before you get into bed until you wake up the next morning.
Just take it from performance-based doctor Myles Spar, M.D.: When he joined us on the mindbodygreen podcast, Spar rattled off some key techniques to try if you're looking to promote deep sleep and quality REM sleep. "Those are the most important two parts of your sleep, not just your overall hours," he says. Why? "Because you need your deep sleep to rest physically, you need your REM sleep to rest brain-wise—creatively and for your hippocampus."
Here, he explains how to optimize your sleep "performance." Feel free to grab a sleep tracker and see which of these influences your shut-eye:
Turn off all the lights.
It might seem obvious, but ensuring that your space is as dark as possible is key to supporting restful sleep. Even the average lights in your home (especially those with LED and fluorescent bulbs) can expose you to blue light, the same wavelength that electronic devices emit. When you perceive light in your space, your brain gets the signal that it's time to wake up and be active. Look out for even a slight glow, whether it be from a crack in the curtains or the blinking of a TV; eliminating even those tiny lights can help your brain recognize it's time to sleep.
Be mindful of when you go to bed.
Your body becomes attuned to your daily rhythms, so frequently varying your bedtimes and wake-ups can throw off your ability to predict when it's time to fall asleep and when it's time to rise. If you're able, keeping your sleep schedule consistent helps your body maintain a regulated circadian rhythm and fall asleep naturally.
Eat your last meal three hours before bed.
If you can swing it, eating your last meal a bit earlier in the day can help the body get into sleep mode later in the evening. This is because your meal patterns inform your internal clock2; similarly to how blue light affects the brain's sleep-wake signaling3, when you eat too close to bedtime, your body may think it's time to be awake. If you find yourself hungry later at night, consider enjoying one of these expert-approved bedtime snacks, which will support healthy blood sugar levels and encourage rest.
Avoid screens within an hour of bedtime.
In addition to reducing the amount of blue light in your space, it's ideal to limit your screen exposure within an hour of bedtime. Looking at your phone or computer too close to bedtime can mess with your body's production of melatonin, causing your brain to think that it's still daytime. If avoiding screens isn't realistic for you, consider trying out a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses4 or downloading an app that minimizes blue light from your device.
Cool your space.
According to holistic psychiatrist and sleep expert Ellen Vora, M.D., the ideal room temperature for sleep is 65 degrees Fahrenheit, though anywhere in the high 60s is solid. Cooler temperatures signal to our bodies that it's time for sleep, and your core body temperature actually drops5 while you rest. In addition to reducing the temperature in your room via windows or fans around an hour before bedtime, other ways to cool down include utilizing a mattress pad or sheets with cooling features.
Try a sleep-promoting supplement.
If you've tried Spar's tips and still need an extra nudge into dreamland, sleep supplements can help make your eyes feel heavy before bed.* Although, there are countless products on the market that promise to promote shut-eye, and it can be tricky to cut through all the labels, claims, and general marketing jargon. Find our vetted sleep supplements and aids here, or feel free to snag mindbodygreen's sleep support+.
Our bestselling supplement features a blend of magnesium bisglycinate, jujube, and PharmaGABA®. These three research-backed ingredients have been shown to help people not only fall asleep faster but stay asleep longer.* And unlike hormonal sleep aids like melatonin, they shouldn't cause grogginess or irritability upon waking.