We all know that sleep is important for overall good health. But you might not know just how much that statement is true. Sleep is when our bodies repair themselves and when our brains process all the things we learned and experienced the day before; depriving yourself of sleep can sabotage your weight, your memory, and may even put you at risk for conditions like high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
Meanwhile, the CDC says that one in three Americans don’t get enough sleep—a problem that has officially been declared a public health issue. This has some pretty serious health consequences, especially when it comes to pain. As Dr. Andrew Kerklaan, chiropractic doctor and founder of Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics explains: “In chronic pain your sleep is impacted, which causes your mood and energy levels to diminish and your pain increases as a result.” It’s a classic snowball effect. “You get stuck in a cycle of pain and poor sleep and bad mood and energy and more pain,” he continues.
So, the question is: How do we make sure we get adequate amounts of high-quality sleep?
Here are five tips straight from Dr. Kerklaan himself.
1. Watch what you’re eating and drinking
Avoiding sugar and caffeine late at night might seem like obvious advice, but according to Dr. K: “It’s often hard for us to follow the simplest advice when it comes to sleep.” If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, watch your caffeine intake, especially sources of caffeine—like tea, chocolate, and kombucha—that you might not be aware of. Dr. Kerklaan also recommends watching your alcohol intake, since it can interfere with your sleep in a major way.
2. Move your body
“Get exercise, even if it’s just a walk after dinner,” says Dr. K. Countless studies have connected physical activity to better sleep. In fact, according to Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, “We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality.”
And you don’t have to run a marathon or become a Soul Cycle fanatic, either. “Anything that clears your mind, gets oxygen in your body, and helps your muscles relax will do it,” says Dr. K. This could be swimming, walking, biking, gardening, yoga, dancing, tennis—the options are endless.
3. Optimize your sleep environment
If you’re having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, it might have more to do with your environment than your sleep. So what is the optimal sleep environment? “The room should be completely dark and cool,” says Dr. K. The way you’re sleeping and what you’re sleeping on may also play a role. “Many people are also sleeping on super old mattresses, so pay attention to the posture and the ergonomic side of how you’re sleeping as well,” he continues. If you’re having trouble getting comfortable, it might be worth a trip to a chiropractor to find out why.
4. Try CBD
“CBD offers fantastic potential in terms of releasing muscle tension and helping you relax,” says Dr. Kerklaan. The Dr. Kerklaan Natural CBD Sleep Cream also contains melatonin, which is known as your sleep hormone and is absorbed through the skin along with CBD. “The cream can be a great part of any sleep ritual,” he continues, which brings us to…
5. Have a pre-sleep ritual
One of the best ways to safeguard your sleep is to establish a sleep ritual at the end of the day, it will help you turn off and relax. So where do you begin? “You can start with restricting your work hours so you have time to wind down before bed,” says Dr. Kerklaan.
Then, turn off all your electronics, lower the lights, and then read, journal, meditate, apply your CBD Sleep Cream, or listen to calming music. Carving out this time for yourself might just make the difference between having great sleep and not.