Seeking 3 tips for quality sleep and a more restful night? We took it for granted as kids – falling asleep anywhere and sleeping through anything.
Quality sleep is essential for optimal health, it is estimated that on average 1 in 3 Americans doesn’t get a good night’s sleep. It is an epidemic of sleep deprivation. As a functional medicine practitioner, sleep is a pillar of health and I work with every client on their sleep habits and history.
Today we chase great sleep with sleep apps, cooling pillows, noise machines, blackout curtains…you name it, we’ve bought it.
If sleep still eludes you, download our step-by-step daily checklist to dramatically improve your sleep!
Quality sleep: are you an early bird or night owl?
Your body’s 24-hour internal clock – your circadian rhythm – is triggered by exposure to light, which activates melatonin production1. Your brain increases melatonin when it’s dark and shuts it down when exposed to light.
We all have a slightly different circadian rhythm, but generally, you’ll fall into one of two categories:
- you are either up with the sun or
- you enjoy staying up late.
To keep your circadian rhythm in sync, get up and go to bed at the same time (this means no sleeping in or Netflix marathons!), avoid screens an hour or so before bedtime and try to get into the sun when you wake up.
So how much sleep should you get?
We all know the person who not only gets by on 5 hours of sleep, but thrives on it. For the rest of us, 7-9 hours per night is ideal2.
It’s important to make a distinction between sleeping and laying in bed.
Nine hours in bed may not feel like enough because you actually only slept for six. Shorten your time in bed (sleeping or not) to 7 hours and see how you feel in the morning.
You might be surprised that less time lounging in bed can mean more energy because you’re helping reset your circadian rhythm!
Remember, sleep is when your body repairs and restores itself3, so don’t short change yourself. You may get by for a while, but over time lack of sleep will damage every organ of your body.
If you are struggling to sleep, I recommend you find a collaborative functional medicine health partner.
How much caffeine can you get away with and still get quality sleep?
It’s not really about how much you’re having (unless you’re an anxious mess or have heart palpitations – and in that case, back off!), it’s about how late in the day you’re having it.
Caffeine really does affect you getting better sleep.
A morning cup of joe is America’s favorite way to caffeinate – the best part of waking up, right?
Brewing yourself an 8oz cup gives you around 95mg of caffeine while picking up the equivalent at Starbucks will double your caffeine to 180mg (almost half the daily safe amount of 400mg).
Bean type and roast (lighter = more caffeine) affects the amount of caffeine per cup.
What about other caffeine sources?
- Green tea (8oz) – 7mg-48mg depending on brand
- Black tea (8oz) – 47mg
- Chai (8oz) – 20-100mg depending on brew style
- Chocolate (1oz) – 12mg
- Energy drink (8oz) – 80-150mg depending on brand
- Soda (12oz) – 30mg
Side note: – don’t forget about the sugar load you may be getting with your caffeine choices. Sugar increases cortisol and adrenaline levels, which will hurt your sleep.
The quality sleep takeaway?
So there you have it – your 3 tips for quality sleep.
- Keep your circadian rhythm in sync
- Get your zzz’s in accordance with your biological needs
- Caffeinate early.
It happens. There are times in your life that sleep just may not come easily to you. This is when underlying health issues may be to blame, including hormone imbalance, poor digestion and blood sugar imbalance.
Looking for more functional health tips?
- National Institute of General Medical Sciences. (2020, March 4). Circadian Rhythms. Retrieved from
- Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S. M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., Hazen, N., Herman, J., Katz, E. S., Kheirandish-Gozal, L., Neubauer, D. N., O’Donnell, A. E., Ohayon, M., Peever, J., Rawding, R., Sachdeva, R. C., Setters, B., Vitiello, M. V., Ware, J. C., & Adams Hillard, P. J. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep health, 1(1), 40–43. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010
- Suni, E. (2020, Oct 30). What happens when you sleep? National Sleep Foundation.Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/what-happens-when-you-sleep