The 6 Things You'll Find On A Functional Medicine Expert's Bedside Table
There's a lot that goes into getting a good night's sleep, from lifestyle choices to environmental factors. And when it comes to setting yourself up for restorative rest, your bedside table should be your friend. We asked doctor of chiropractic and functional medicine expert Stacie Stephenson, D.C., CNS, what she keeps on hers to help ensure good sleep. Here's what she had to say:
A sleep supplement
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that signals to our brain that it's time to go to sleep. As Stephenson explains to mbg, she likes to turn to a melatonin supplement on the off chance that she has trouble falling asleep, as melatonin can help support a healthy circadian rhythm.*
Since the blue light from screens can suppress melatonin, she tries to avoid those a few hours before bed, "but sometimes it's unavoidable, so a melatonin supplement helps to get my circadian rhythm back into balance,"* she adds.
Ashwagandha is another supplement that has been shown to support relaxation as well as mental calm1,* Stephenson says, which is why it's another favorite when it comes to sleep. "Keeping melatonin and ashwagandha at my bedside is convenient because if I don't remember to take them until I'm already in bed, I don't have to get up again," she adds.
A glass of water
Of course, if you keep your sleep supplements by your bed, you'll need a glass of water. Plus, we've all had those moments when we wake up in the middle of the night absolutely parched. "A big glass of water is great for when I wake up thirsty in the middle of the night, especially when the air is dry," Stephenson notes.
A sleep mask
A dark room stimulates melatonin production and, in turn, can help us fall asleep faster. On those nights when streetlights are shining in from behind the curtains, Stephenson says she turns to her handy sleep mask. "I prefer silk masks, as they are soft and nonirritating, and I like the kind that are padded around the edges, so I can easily open my eyes without taking off the mask," she adds.
There are plenty of relaxing bedtime teas to choose from, but none stand out more than the classic chamomile. It's "the most relaxing of teas" in Stephenson's opinion, who notes she likes to bring a warm cup of chamomile tea to bed so she can sip it and relax while reading something (which brings us to our next point).
An inspiring read
As Stephenson sips her tea, she'll read a book—but not just any book. She chooses to go for ones that leave a positive impact. As she tells mbg, "I like inspirational books that put me in a positive frame of mind before drifting off." Reading a physical book won't stimulate your eyes the way blue light does, and it's a soothing activity that helps you relax in and of itself.
One beautiful, perfect orchid
Last but not least, Stephenson likes to display a touch of beauty on her nightside. "Something about fresh flowers in my bedroom makes me feel so calm, relaxed, and positive," she says. Her favorite? One simple yet stunning orchid. "It doesn't take up much room on that small space but it's often the last thing I look at before I turn out the light," she adds, "and that makes me happy."
The bottom line.
It goes without saying that nothing on your bedside table can make up for those crucial sleep factors like a healthy diet and regular exercise—but it never hurts to have a well-being toolbox next to you when you need a hand falling asleep. Whether you opt for an orchid or brew up a cup of chamomile, let the contents of your bedside table be your secret weapon for good sleep.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.