Setting-up Success for Sleep Support
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
Sleep has been top of mind lately. Not only because I recognize my own need for sound slumber, but because I understand your need to get it, reap the benefits from it, and also honor its importance in your healing recommendations and protocols for others.
A good night’s sleep includes:
- falling asleep easily
- sleeping through the night without waking
- waking in the morning feeling rested and refreshed
I shared our Sleep Assessment with you and many of you wrote in to say:
Yeah, yeah, and then what?
Since sleep is part of our Non-Negotiable Trifecta (along with pooping regularly and blood sugar balance), I want to take time with how we hone this critical life skill. (Yes, getting proper sleep may take some skill, and the ‘then what’ that you asked for may require your clinical discernment.) I’m slowly working my way toward some of my favorite bedtime remedies, but not before underscoring 2 key aspects to optimize sleep quality — both for yourself and those you serve.
Setting-up Success for Sleep Support
#1 – Be sure to properly assess the situation
It frustrates me to no end to witness some clinicians’ propensity to ‘prescribe’ before they have enough information. The only way to work in a truly Functional manner is to Assess before you recommend.
That’s what the sleep assessment does. It helps you step back, ask the right questions, and see the case more clearly.
But as I know you’ve already determined, even this carefully crafted assessment is true, but partial. There’s obviously more work to do once you have the completed evaluation in hand.
#2 – Start with the Sleep Non-Negotiables
While sleep IS a Non-Negotiable in our healing recommendations and protocols, it also has its own set of Non-Negotiables. These Sleep Non-Negotiables should be put into place before or simultaneous to taking any next steps (supplemental, pharmacological or otherwise.)
In other words, do not bypass the Sleep Non-Negotiables!
What are they?
Let me make a list of some my favorite for you to explore in practice…
- sanctuary — the bedroom should be a sleep and relaxation sanctuary (snuggles and sex are A-OK, TV and gaming are not)
- pitch black — make the bedroom as dark as possible (if blackout shades are not an option, try recommending a sleep mask!)
- unplug — remove electronics from the bedroom and use as few plugs as possible (there should be no glowing lights in the bedroom disrupting the darkness)
- no glow — avoid blue light prior to bedtime (the body expects warmer colors at nighttime and ditching the blue light a couple of hours before slumber, with an app like f.lux or blue-blocking glasses will help prepare the body for rest)
- catch the wave! — this is what we call it when you follow the natural circadian rhythm, going to sleep by 10:00 or 10:30pm while cortisol levels are naturally decreasing, and sticking with a regular bedtime
- calm down — come down from the high intensity of the day and get the body into proper relaxation mode by reading, listening to music, talking, or even watching an uplifting program on TV, as long as the program doesn’t spike adrenaline and blue light blockers are in use!
- rest and digest — uncovering the right balance of when, what and how much to eat will require trial and error with each client, but avoid going to bed full
While I do have a few other front-runners tucked away for fostering sleep, these Non-Negotiables should not be overlooked. In fact, they often do the trick without having to add another pill or protocol! You’d be surprised at how little time is spent developing these sleep skills, and how much improvement your clients can see when they take the time to slow down and pay attention to each of these key areas.
Pay heed to the Non-Negotiables of sleep—both the necessity of a restful slumber, and the foundational lifestyle changes to support it. Paying attention to these ever-important details makes your practice truly Functional, and can set you apart as a practitioner who gets results.
Related Blog Posts
The truth about epigenetics (and root causes!)
Functional Nutrition Tool: Sleep Assessment
case study: insomnia through a Functional lens, part 1
case study: insomnia through a Functional Lens, part 2
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