Prescribe Nutrition is excited to be featuring a post all about something just as near and dear to hearts as nutrition…sleep. We love us some sleep. And we’re lucky to have Michelle Fishberg, co-founder and CEO of Slumbr, a sleep wellness startup to give us her insight on the what may be the most important ~ 8 hours of our day. Michelle is passionate about inspiring people to prioritize sleep for a healthier, happier life. Take it away Michelle!
When it comes to living a healthier lifestyle, many people focus on eating well and working out. But of course there’s also sleep! Thanks to advocates like Arianna Huffington, sleep is now enjoying a groundswell of interest in wellness circles. And for good reason. When we make sleep a priority, it benefits our body and mind — from our metabolism to detoxification to energy levels to memory, mood, focus — and so much more. In years past, we might have believed the old adage “you snooze, you lose,” but today, we know better.
While many of us increasingly recognize the importance of quality sleep, understanding how to get it in real life is another thing. Sure, there are the “basics” of good sleep hygiene — cut out caffeine after 2 pm, keep the room cool and dark, set a strict sleep schedule, turn off your digital devices 30 min before bedtime, etc. And luckily, many holistic wellness practices also benefit our sleep. These are things like healing your gut, getting more sunlight, meditating, properly hydrating, managing blood sugar, exercising and many more. While all of these practices are important, they often require lifestyle changes, which can take time and, let’s face it, can be difficult to do consistently.
So, with a nod towards the realities of our busy lives, here are a few tips for fostering better sleep with little to no effort. And the good news is that none of these requires popping any pills!
Apply magnesium oil: Studies have shown that magnesium helps people fall asleep faster and promotes sounder sleep. The problem is that most Americans are deficient in magnesium and need to proactively take measures to get enough. Prescribe Nutrition has shared great advice for increasing magnesium intake nutritionally and orally. I am also an advocate for applying magnesium oil to your skin before bedtime. Transdermal (or topical) application is one of the most effective ways to absorb this macro-mineral.
It’s easy and inexpensive to make your own magnesium oil. Just dissolve ¼ cup of magnesium chloride flakes in ¼ cup distilled/purified water on the stove. Once cooled, pour the mixture into a small dark glass dropper bottle. Before bedtime, I rub a dropper-full of the oil on my stomach and let it absorb into my skin. When I’m regularly supplementing with magnesium, I experience deeper, less fitful sleep. It’s one of the most effective and effortless sleep remedies AND my first suggestion to those who have trouble sleeping through the night.
Check your pillow: 91% of folks say a comfortable pillow is important for quality sleep. A proper pillow can address neck pain and make bedtime feel more pampering.
Yet, for something this important that we use every night, it’s surprising how little attention most people pay to their pillows. If you’re finding it difficult to recall how long ago you bought pillows or if they’re yellow, lumpy or flat, it’s almost certainly time to get new ones. Lower-quality pillows should be replaced at least every 2 years, if not sooner, since they lose support over time and collect icky things (like dust mites, funguses, dirt and oils). Or you could invest in higher-quality pillows whose fill will retain their support longer and can usually be washed without falling apart. I recommend using a pillow protector with these pillows to preserve them.
When choosing a comfortable pillow, pick one that puts your head, neck and spine in “neutral alignment” (ie: keeps them straight). This means a pillow appropriate to your sleep position that’s not going to thrust your head too far forward or back. Pillow comfort, however, is highly personal and subjective. There are factors you could consider, including firmness, height, scrunchability, ease-of-care, durability, if it’s hypoallergenic, natural vs. synthetic, breathability…even how it sounds and smells. If it overwhelms you to find a great pillow, my company, Slumbr, has tested hundreds of options with sleepers to help make finding a comfy pillow super simple and personal.
Investing in a high-quality, comfortable pillow can immediately change your bedtime experience for the better, with zero effort. All you have to do is snooze!
Wind down with lavender: You may be aware that lavender has a calming effect, but did you know that there is scientific evidence attributing meaningful sleep benefits to lavender, like inducing more slow wave (ie: deep) sleep? Taking a whiff of that lavender linen spray or candle is not just about recreating “spa night” at home. It can be part of a bedtime regimen that readies your mind and body for sleep. An easy way to wind down is to keep a lavender-scented eye pillow by your bed. Before you fall asleep, place the pillow on your eyes and breathe deeply for just 10 breaths, inhaling in the calming aroma. Aaaah….
Purify your bedroom air: If you or a partner snores or wheezes during the night, it can certainly interrupt sleep. For those who suspect they have a more serious sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, medical help is appropriate. But for light snorers or those with allergies, try adding a houseplant or Himalayan salt lamp on your bedside table. These help to “cleanse” the air and reduce the number of allergens that aggravate noses and throats. Another must is to regularly vacuum and dust your bedroom, as well as wash your bed linens often.
However you support your sleep, it’s well worth whatever effort you put into it. The investment in quality sleep will pay dividends for years to come.
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Michelle worked in tech and earned her MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. She spends her free time doing barre fitness, California daytrips, hiking, chowhounding and napping (with zero shame!). You can follow Slumbr on Instagram (@SlumbrCompany).