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7 Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

How To Get A Good Night's Sleep

I remember stumbling into my godmother’s home one day with puffy eyes and a sigh on my lips. My newly born first child was asleep in my arms. “Does it ever change?,” I moaned. “Will I ever get a solid night’s sleep again?”

She gave me a sympathetic look and shook her head. “No. Your babies will grow up and sleep through the night, but by then you’ll be used to waking up. You’ll wake up because they made a noise in their dreams, because you have to pee, because the cat meows. It’ll never go back to what it was.”

My inner voice completely rejected her answer. I WOULD SLEEP AGAIN! I knew I would. Good thing I listened to that inner voice.

Granted, it was years coming. I now have three children, ages 8, 5, and 2. After 9 years of being pregnant or nursing, my body finally belongs to ME again! As do my nights.

Oh sure, there’s still the occasional sick child or nightmare, but it is nothing at all like the interrupted sleep of the past 9 years.

My new year’s resolution.

On January 1st, I had one real goal in mind. I wanted to sleep better. I wanted to rest and rest and rest until I felt … human.

After a month of sound sleep night after night, I am finally glad to report that good sleep works.

What prompted me to prioritize sleep? (Besides wanting to feel better?)

Power Sleep: The Book Everyone Should Read

Power Sleep BookIf you haven’t already, you should go snag a copy of Power Sleep : The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance and read it.

The book will change your life.

It’s written by Dr. James Maas, and it’s the most well-written book on this subject I’ve ever come across. Not only is it informative, it’s entertaining.

While I’ve always understood that sleep makes a HUGE difference in how I feel, I didn’t realize it could have so many far-reaching health benefits either. This book does an excellent job of laying out the effects of not getting enough good rest.

A good night’s rest is about 9.5 hours during Autumn and Winter, and about 8.5 hours during Spring and Summer.

How do you measure up? Are you sleep deprived?

I certainly was!

Dr. Maas has an entire chapter dedicated to what he calls “family sleep traps.” While I don’t necessarily agree with *all* of his tips found in the section on “Tips for Exhausted Parents of Newborns, Infants, and Children,” I did find myself thoroughly pleased that he at least tried to address the issue naturally.

This is, perhaps, one of the best things about this book. Unlike other books written by doctors on improving sleep, Dr. Bass does NOT recommend sleep medications! Instead, he gives you the tools you need to get quality sleep … naturally.

Harvard Sleep Studies Give Us The Scoop

It turns out, sleep is about more than just “feeling good.” According to the mountains of research done by Harvard, here are the 6 biggest reasons to get consistent, good sleep:

1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

How I Started Getting A Good Night’s Sleep

1. I gave myself a bedtime.

This is, perhaps, the hardest thing to do! I’m a very task-oriented person. That means I like to do things until they’re done, regardless of what a clock says.

By giving myself a bedtime, I now have to (gasp!) think ahead and ask myself if I can finish my task before bed. If I can’t, then I just don’t do it. I wait to start it until the next day.

At first, I also wasn’t even almost tired at my bedtime!

That’s because my hormones were all out of whack. Dr. Ross addresses this in her book, The Diet Cure, and Dr. Maas touches on it in his book, too.

Essentially, my cortisol levels were too elevated too late in the day. Ideally, your cortisol levels are highest in the morning. This is what allows you to wake up feeling fresh and energetic, ready to face your day.

If you wake up with low cortisol levels, then you wake up with reluctance and feel groggy.

By delaying that cortisol “high” to later in the day, my body also pushed back the manufacturing of melatonin — the hormone that tells your body you’re sleepy — until much later at night than normal. That’s because melatonin production ramps up as cortisol levels wane.

So, I’d stay up later, with more energy.

Unfortunately, this is a terrible spiral that’s virtually impossible to control by willpower alone.

If I were to go to bed earlier, I’d just lay there and suffer from insomnia. That’s because my body wasn’t making enough melatonin on time. If I were to force myself to wake up earlier, I’d feel even groggier than usual because my cortisol levels would be even lower.

What was I supposed to do? Lay in bed for hours while waiting for sleep to come? No. I needed to help push my hormone levels back into balance, but to do that, I needed better sleep!

See what I mean about a spiral? It’s like being between a rock and hard place.

That’s why I also implemented the other tips below.

How to Get a Good Nights Sleep

2. I strategically took melatonin.

I’m not a big fan of taking supplements for extended lengths of time. But, I found that the extra melatonin went a long way towards helping me “re-train” my body to feel sleepy at the right times. After about a month of using it, I no longer needed it, so long as I faithfully followed the other tips below.

This is the melatonin I used. It’s only other ingredients were rice flour as the transfer medium and gelatin for the capsule. Plus, it’s at a nice, low 1mg dose so that I could mete out exactly what measure I needed. And it’s under $4 a bottle!

I started by taking 1mg immediately after my kids went to bed, around 8pm each night. If by 9pm I wasn’t feeling sleepy, I’d take another milligram. My goal was to start my bedtime routine by 10pm and be asleep by 11pm.

3. I took amino acid supplements.

Again, this was only temporary. But when I took Dr. Ross’s amino-acid deficiency survey, I tested as needing L-Tryptophan and GABA. Her instructions had me taking GABA in the mornings, and L-Tryptophan in the afternoons and evenings, just long enough to correct the deficiency (about a month). Now I no longer need them, and don’t anticipate needing them again until life sends me additional stressors.

I intend to write more on Dr. Ross’s research, but if all this is news to you, may I suggest you read my post on How To Beat Sugar Cravings with Glutamine? It offers a little introduction to Dr. Ross’s theories about neurotransmitter deficiencies.

4. I ate a late-night, high-protein snack.

I used to feel snackish some time after dinner, but before bed. Most of my cravings were for carbohydrate heavy foods that would keep me awake for a few more hours.

Your body breaks down protein to make the neurotrasmitters that regulate your hormones, sleep patterns, etc. By eating a high-protein snack, I was giving my body the fuel it needed to help fix the neurotransmitter deficiency and right the hormonal imbalance while still satisfying my munchies.

Now I no longer get snack cravings at night. If I do, I know it’s a sign I’ve stayed up too late!

5. I dimmed all the lights after sunset, particularly my monitor.

Watching TV or a computer screen after dark can wreak havoc on your night time rest. That’s because both are high in bright blue light that mimics sunlight. That bright daylight-type light sends the wrong signals to our brain, telling us it’s time to stay alert and wakeful.

To dim the lights, I did a few things.

First, I installed f.lux on my computer. This free computer software changes the settings of your monitor according to the time of day and the types of interior lighting you have in your house. At night, it will match your monitor’s light to type of ambient light in your room!

Click here to download f.lux for free

Gunnar Joule GlassesSecond, I bought a pair of Gunnar computer glasses. These glasses are specially designed to reduce the eye-fatigue associated with working on a computer. Plus, they have amber-tinted lenses that help reduce the blue glare of the computer monitor or TV screen even further.

Here I am sportin’ a pair of Gunnar’s. They come in a variety of frames. These are the Joule frames, but there are plenty of others.

Click here to see the huge variety of available Gunnar glasses and read product reviews.

Finally, I ditched the overhead lights in favor of lamps.

As soon as the kids were in bed, I’d walk around and turn off all the overhead lights. I’d do all my night-time living by the light of shaded lamps.

6. I slept in the dark, and used earplugs.

First, I tried to remove all sources of light from my bedroom. I turned my clock away from me, closed my blinds so the street lights weren’t as bright, closed my doors so that hall lights or light coming in from other windows wouldn’t be as bad, etc.

Sleep Master Sleep MaskYet despite those measures, there was still a LOT of ambient light in the room. I love my bedroom’s drapes, and didn’t want to invest in light-blocking ones. So, I did what I thought I’d never do.

I became the lady who sleeps with a night mask. It seriously helps! This is the most comfortable one I found.

I also started sleeping with earplugs. This also made a surprisingly HUGE difference in the quality of my sleep. It blocks out street noise, the air-conditioning cycling on off, the over head fan, the buzz of the nearby clock — all the noises that I didn’t think affected me at all. But when they’re gone, sleep came much more quickly!

If you’re going to buy earplugs, invest in some like these. They’re ultra soft. You just roll them up to compress them, insert them into the ear canal, and let them expand to fill your ear canal and block out noise.

I tried a different brand at first, and although they were great at noise blocking, I awoke in the morning with a sore ear canal. If that happens to you, know that you don’t have to live with it! There are plenty of companies that specialize in softer, more comfortable ear plugs. I find that one pair lasts at least a couple of weeks, possibly more before its quality starts to deteriorate.

And don’t worry about still being able to hear your kiddos! Trust me, you can still hold a conversation while wearing these, still hear if your children or spouse needs you. They just make the world … quiet.

7. I enacted a bedtime routine.

I used to just fall into bed whenever the idea seemed right. Now I have a whole relaxing routine that ends with me lying in bed and reading a book for a half hour.

Having a routine trains your body to expect to get sleep after you do it. It’s a bit like Pavlov’s dogs. The more you do the routine and sleep after wards, the easier it is to sleep after your routine.

BONUS: Address your magnesium deficiency.

Most of us have a magnesium deficiency. Lack of magnesium can contribute to insomnia and other hormonal problems. The good news? Your magnesium deficiency can be easily corrected. Just implement the tips for reversing your magnesium deficiency found here.

What are your tips for getting a good night’s sleep?

(top photo: summerbl4ck; lower sleep photo: jjay69)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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55 Responses to 7 Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
  1. Dave, RN
    February 18, 2013 | 8:15 pm

    Get f-lux for your computer. It’s a free program that removes the blue light from the display at sunset.

    • KristenM
      February 18, 2013 | 8:56 pm

      I did! It’s the first step of Tip #5 above. :)

    • Sharon
      April 17, 2013 | 5:12 pm

      Tried to download f-lux. Didn’t work.

  2. Annika Rockwell
    February 18, 2013 | 8:57 pm

    Great post! Exactly what my husband and I needed to read! Side note: The link to the Gunnar computer glasses is not working. Are these glasses that will also help at night while in a well lit house even if we’re not in front of the computer?

    • KristenM
      February 18, 2013 | 9:04 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out. I fixed the link in the post, and you can click here:

      Yes, they’ll help reduce any blue-light. So, they’re great for night time TV watching, reducing overhead light glare, etc.

      You can even where them while driving in the DAYLIGHT to make everything more crisp and reduce glare!

  3. SaraBeth
    February 18, 2013 | 10:44 pm

    I am looking forward to trying some of the ideas here which are new to me. I have used earplugs for years – I especially like the wax ones you can find in Europe. They’re soft, malleable and can be cut to fit your own ear canal. Eyeshades have become a must – you’re right, there is always some light in a room. I have been very happy with Bucky’s, but I’m going to try your recommendation next time. Another device I am never without is a white noise machine – especially for traveling. It can smooth many sounds, often making earplugs unnecessary. With those three you can sleep through (almost) anything!

  4. Linda
    February 18, 2013 | 10:46 pm

    This post is so helpful! I’ve gotten completely out of sync with nature and, thanks to you, I now can find my way back. Many thanks!

    (Just so you know, the links for the eye mask and ear plugs don’t work.)

    • KristenM
      February 18, 2013 | 10:51 pm

      Really? They’re working for me. They link to products on Amazon in the US. Is it possible you’re out of the country?

      But even then, they should work! How mysterious.

  5. Anastasia @ eco-babyz
    February 18, 2013 | 10:48 pm

    I KNOW I should be getting better sleep, going to bed earlier, etc. But I work from home when my kids are asleep, my only time to work is 9 to 2 and I cannot give that up because it is a substantial part of our income! I’m really between a rock and a hard place. Unfortunately I can’t go to bed with them at 9 pm to wake up in the morning to get work done because I’m not a morning person and because they will wake up with me at 5 am and don’t sleep soundly in the mornings unless I’m next to them :)

    • KristenM
      February 18, 2013 | 10:55 pm

      I work from home too, with three homeschooled little ones around me.

      If I were you, I’d find a way to prioritize sleep! You don’t have to go to bed at nine necessarily. Just find a way to get more sleep.

      If this post hasn’t convinced you, then try reading Dr. Maas’s book. Sleep is so, so, so important.

      You’ll surprise yourself with how productive you are when good sleep is the norm! You’ll literally work half as hard, produce twice the work, and feel HAPPY and energetic the whole time.

      I didn’t think I was a morning person either, but now I know that was because my cortisol levels were shot in the mornings. I corrected the hormone imbalance, and lo! I am kinda a morning person now. Not as chipper as some, but I can wake up and feel good about the day!

  6. Muriel @ The Farmers Taft
    February 18, 2013 | 11:12 pm

    Sigh. I know I’d benefit from more sleep. I already get a solid 7 hours a night. It sounds like I should be getting 2.5 hours more – 2.5 hours to give up after my kids are in bed, the few hours of the day that are MINE. Not my employer’s, or husband’s, or kids’. I think I’m just going to have to keep on keepin’ on with my 7 hours. Thank you for the book recommendation. I’ll have to download it to my Kindle and evaluate the benefits.

    • KristenM
      February 18, 2013 | 11:22 pm

      I felt the same way, too! My FAVORITE part of the day was night after the kids were in bed. I’d use the time to work, to play, to just do whatever the heck I wanted. It was 100% ME time.

      Since I am an introvert, I use alone time to recharge. I looked forward to my ME time.

      But then I noticed that over the years, it just kept getting pushed back later and later so that my ME time was longer and longer. And eventually I couldn’t wake up at a reasonable time in the morning any more, and I was cranky and irritable all day long, and I couldn’t lose my last 15 pounds of pregnancy weight from my third child.

      9 years of 6-7 hours which are often interrupted by kiddos is just not a recipe for long-term health or success. It eventually wore me completely down!

      Now I find ME time in the middle of the day. I’ve prioritized both IT and SLEEP and managed to find something that worked. (It involves my husband and neighbors helping to watch the kiddos, but it works! I also give everyone a break by sending my kiddos to one day academy once per week.)

      So maybe you can brainstorm? Could you give yourself a night off each week — a night when you don’t make dinner and don’t come home until later? Instead your husband handles it all? Could you find ways to be ALONE during your lunch break?

      In the very least, you can try to improve the QUALITY of your sleep so that those 7 hours really count!

    • Sandy
      February 19, 2013 | 8:19 pm

      I got the book for my Kindle but returned it. I know this might sound stupid but it’s a book that you will want to highlight things and it was too confusing on the kindle. And there are questions to answer. So i bought the book from Amazon. It is worth reading. If you are trying to kick the sugar habit it really works & my sleep has improved also.

  7. Posito
    February 19, 2013 | 12:29 am

    What’s the difference between fall and autumn?

  8. Scott
    February 19, 2013 | 9:16 am

    Using a lighting control system will allow you to automate tips 5 & 6. Lights can be scheduled to dim at a specific time, say at sunset. Also, install automated light blocking shades. These shades can be configured to close by bedtime and open at sunrise allowing the sun to help wake you.

    I find having relaxing background music on at a low volume creates a calm mood for evening. It even settles the kids down.

  9. Sarah @ Fit Family Together
    February 19, 2013 | 4:02 pm

    Yes sleep is the BEST medicine – and so underused. Tapping into your Food Renegade theme, a huge reason for our problems with sleep is the decrease in magnesium in our diet. About 1/3 of adults are deficient in this mineral and most of the deficiency is due to poor soil quality and processed foods. Nuts are a great source and you can get some good supplements.

    Also – while the eyeshade may help a bit, interestingly enough light falling on ANY part of your body triggers shifts in your melatonin production and affects your sleep cycle. That’s why ultimately, it’s better to darken the room, including covering alarm clocks,etc. that emit soft blue light.

    • KristenM
      February 19, 2013 | 4:09 pm

      Yes, I’ve written about magnesium deficiencies many times in the past!

      For those with a deficiency, I recommend the topical use of magnesium oil. It’s far more easily assimilated by the body than oral supplementation. I get mine here:

      That’s an interesting bit about melatonin. I always sleep entirely under the covers except for my face, anyway.

      • Jamil Avdiyev
        February 25, 2013 | 12:27 am

        Thank you for these interesting and simple tips. I have heard about ear plugs and the night mask but never bothered to try them. Is there any research or any known mechanisms explaining why these approaches work? Just curious.

        I have been doing some reading on improving sleep efficiency so even though I have no sleep issues it appears there are ways to get more out of sleep than I thought previously.

        It seems the methods I am referring to can help a person sleep less over time and actually improve health through this better sleep.

        Up until about 17, I had a hard time falling asleep when I had to go to bed early. I found detoxification, eliminating junk food, and eating nutrient dense real foods cleared this problem up for good.

        In Reams Biological Theory of Ionization as applied to human health (RBTI), practitioners have observed the following pattern for problems with falling asleep: high salts; potassium, calcium, magnesium deficiency; dropping/low sugar at night. High salts or conductivity means toxic accumulations of improperly metabolized salts. The long term way to deal with this is to drink distilled water systematically. Deficiencies of the above minerals means you don’t get enough of them in the diet or they may be unavailable or both. Dropping sugar (brix) in the evening is dealt with in several ways in RBTI: eat more fat in the evening, eat more cabs in the evening, drink some sweet wine or some other sweet food like juice or fruit compote or eat something with wholesome sweetener other than honey – it drops the brix.

        Here are some other things I have found to work. Years ago I had an existential crisis with my career and it left me restless. I used a number of measures. I took reishi mushroom, which is calming. I took ashwaganda during the day. Both of these adaptogenic herbs help to put the body back in balance.

        If you have issues with falling asleep, avoid any type of stimulating foods/condiments in the evening. Eat foods classified as yin from a Chinese medicine standpoint or Vata pacifying from an Ayurvedic standpoint and spices that relax and are grounding such as cumin, fennel, asafetida, nutmeg and fennel in the evening. Try calming teas like chamomile. So, for example, eat lamb (a very yang food) or ginger or chicken during the day and dairy or fish or eggs or wine or goji berries in the evening.

        Sample References:

        1. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition (ignore the vegetarian slant)

        2. Perfect Balance: Ayurvedic Nutrition for Mind, Body, and Soul

        3. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief

        4. The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs

  10. Roz
    February 19, 2013 | 4:04 pm

    Thanks for this timely article Kristen. I’ve been lurking around your wonderful website for months now, but this was the piece that finally made me post a reply. I absolutely agree about the importance of sleep. I have the luxury of no kids and a flexible job as caretaker of a remote resort in British Columbia. I’m usually in bed by 11:00 (sometimes reading, sometimes not), and can sleep in as long as I want (such freedom, not waking up to an alarm clock). So what’s my problem? I can’t remember the last time I had more than six hours of deep, UNINTERRUPTED sleep. It seems I’m always waking up in the middle of night – emptying my bladder or just restless. And once I wake up, it either takes a long while to fall back to sleep, or I “nap” off and on till the morning. Either way, I’m just not feeling as refreshed in the morning as I know I should. Do you think any or all of your tips would help me?

    • KristenM
      February 19, 2013 | 4:15 pm


      If I were you, I’d go buy Julia Ross’s book right now and get busy reading it. People who wake up because they need to pee or feel restless have a hormonal imbalance that can be fixed with neurotransmitter therapy.

      Plus, ambient light and noise can easily wake “light sleepers,” so reducing those is bound to help, too.

    • me
      February 20, 2013 | 10:49 am

      actually, don’t worry about it. a lot of research indicates that only recently have people decided that 8 (or however many) solid hours at night is what constitutes healthy sleep. most traditional cultures in the temperate zones have midday naps worked into their days. and waking in the middle of the night to pray or meditate, use the bathroom, have sex or do other activities is documented in many different times and places. check out At Day’s Close by Roger Ekirch. from a review on amazon: ” One of the most surprising facts in the book is divided sleep, a phenomenon that the author maintains occurs in all primitive societies without electricity. People apparently become so well-rested that, going to bed near the fall of night, they have their “first sleep”, awaken about midnight, lie awake (or find something to do) for 2-3 hours, then sleep some more. Ekrich points out that the body’s hormones had completely adapted to this pattern. Thus, the aberration is our modern 6-8 hours at a stretch, something humans have not been doing that long really.” and a comment on that review says: “Ekrich’s insights are delightfuil and useful. I write articles about sleep and help patients get free of dependence on sleeping pills. I have a patient who does the two sleeping shifts and now accepts that as her normal rhythm, whereas she formerly tried to force herself into the “normal” 8 hours sleep. With some specific guidance most people can calm the mind and relax the body and sleep naturally, in spite of the seductive marketing of Ambien and Lunesta. Ron Soderquist, Ph.d. ”

      here’s a good article on mercola:

      and from:
      “So, the next time you wake up in the middle of the night, instead of panicking or worrying about “not being asleep when you should,” try to relax, and remember you may just be tapping into a very natural rhythm, and use that time for meditating on your dreams instead of giving in to worry. ”

      these links are interesting too:

      so, try breaking your sleep at night into 2 parts and taking a nap during the day. if you have the freedom with your schedule to be able to do that you are very blessed.

    • Natti
      February 20, 2013 | 3:29 pm

      Hmm.. I find it curious that before the Industrial Age… it was actually very common to wake up in the middle of the nite. “A midnite snack” was coined, not from eating before bed, but eating in the middle of the nite. It was a known… sleep behavior that one would wake up in the middle of the nite, and typically people across the developed world would spend an hour or two doing odds and ends–eating, reading, working, what have you–and than go back to bed. This was never seen as a bad thing.. and I wonder if in our new scientific era we aren’t perhaps overlooking a few things…

      Just my five cents. If you wake up in the middle of the nite, and you’re not tired, why not listen to your body instead of forcing it to go back to bed? Do something for a lil’ bit that you wanted to do the day before, or the next day, and than try falling back asleep in an hour….

  11. Kate (NurseMomPaleo)
    February 19, 2013 | 4:37 pm

    Wow, what a great post! I have read much of the information you talked about and you really put it together so well. I plan to pass this article on to many people that desperately need sleep. Yawn! I am still nursing my son and I am very excited for the day when I can sleep again. You have definitely inspired me to go buy some earplugs and start using my eye mask at night. Thanks again!

  12. Ron
    February 19, 2013 | 4:44 pm

    Alot of good tips here,however I believe the single
    most important factor is anxiety causing sleep
    problems.Anxiety produces adrenaline,that’s what gives you the extra energy and prepares you to fight
    or flight.It will either keep you up at night,or wake you early.If you have serious economic problems,it’s not likely melatonin or other sleep aids will help.

    • KristenM
      February 19, 2013 | 4:51 pm

      I’m of the mind that anxiety is usually caused by poor nutrition. There is a direct correlation between gut health and mental health. Did you know 85% of our seratonin is produced in our intestines?

      After all, it’s perfectly possible to be well-fed, but malnourished.

      Soooo, all that to say, I think that getting your hands on Julia Ross’s work (particularly The Mood Cure) will go a long well towards helping you self-diagnose the root cause of your anxiety levels.

      • Elizabeth
        February 20, 2013 | 12:39 pm

        I completely agree with Kristen’s comment about anxiety being tied to nutrition. Not just is gut health important, healthy fats are so important too. I have always been interested in nutrition. I was a vegetarian for over 30 years, and for most of that time did not eat much of the processed soy crap that many vegetarians eat. Most of the time I ate eggs and some dairy. At one point, I was almost completely vegan and mostly raw. My anxiety and acne were at an all time high. I have been eating more primal/paleo/ancestral for the past year or so. My skin cleared up when I cut out grains (while still vegetarian) but the anxiety really did not get much better until I started consuming much higher amounts of animal fat.

        • Stephanie
          January 25, 2014 | 9:12 am

          I had a similar experience. I had anxiety and even panic attacks when I was vegan. I had to not just add fats but also get my gallbladder working again. Long process, but totally worth it.

  13. Holly
    February 19, 2013 | 5:38 pm

    I have suffered from extreme insomnia over the last 20 years. In the last few years I have come to understand it it cortisol and stress related. When my body is out of whack NOTHING will help. I sometimes stay awake all night. UNTIL recently I am earthing using an earthing mat all night. I am amazed! The combination of a epsom salt bath and my earthing mat has made a huge difference!

  14. Amy
    February 19, 2013 | 9:48 pm

    Just FYI, summer is missing from this statement in your post:
    A good night’s rest is about 9.5 hours during Autumn and Winter, and about 8.5 hours during Spring and Fall.

    Is there a distinction between autumn and fall? I always thought they were interchangeable.


  15. Tory
    February 19, 2013 | 10:55 pm

    Do you have any information or guidance about the safety of these supplements for breastfeeding mothers? My son sleeps 12 hours and I’m lucky to get five or six.

  16. Gina Malewicz
    February 20, 2013 | 7:51 am

    Great post! I would love to hear more about your routine to get to sleep that ends in reading for a half hour. I’d love to adopt something similar.

  17. Liza
    February 20, 2013 | 9:17 am

    This is a wonderful post. A friend referred me to it. I’m lucky to get seven hours a night, and would love more, but I’m a “working” graduate student – I’m a traveling musician (often performing at night) and full time student, and I have two other part time jobs! No kids, but I still feel like I never have enough time in the day to get done what I want! I wonder if I could implement some of this plan without compromising the time I have to be productive during the day. It seems like a daunting task…but maybe one worth trying?

  18. Abb
    February 20, 2013 | 11:42 am

    Hey Kristin, are you still using the earthing mat/sheets you bought? Do they still help?

  19. Dr. Robert
    February 20, 2013 | 12:23 pm

    Great tips.. I would add listening to soft music.. particularly classical 45 minutes before bed improves sleep quality. Simple and cheap.. heck you can stream it right from you tube.

  20. Courtney @ The Polivka Family
    February 20, 2013 | 1:48 pm

    Thanks for the tips!

  21. Heather - Mommypotamus
    February 20, 2013 | 3:53 pm

    I just did a huuuuge happy dance after realizing that f.lux works for Macs! Screen time after dark has been my biggest challenge when it comes to getting sleepy at the right time. Thank you, Kristen!

  22. yekcal
    February 21, 2013 | 12:49 pm

    The Gunnar glasses look really cool and I was very interested but they’ve got a racket running for prescription lenses. Although you can pick up a pair at Amazon for $70-$80, if you currently wear glasses then expect to pay a minimum of $249 and upwards of $350 for their “premimum” line!! Apparently, that’s where they make the big bucks so they can sell the glasses on Amazon so cheap! Sad sad non-customer. :(

    • Jen
      February 23, 2013 | 11:44 pm

      I wouldn’t call that a racket… As far as I’m concerned, $249 prescription glasses that also happen to be formulated to reduce eye strain from the computer screen is a bargain. That’s how much my prescription glasses always cost, and I buy them when they’re on sale at LensCrafters. Alas, however, my prescription is too strong, and falls outside of their limits, so no Gunnars for me.

  23. stephen
    February 24, 2013 | 3:05 pm

    a usual alot of good info in this article.kind of surprising nobody mentioned working out.from my own experience nothing regulates my sleep cycle as well as a regular work out routine.just don’t do it to close to bed time.

  24. Terrell
    March 4, 2013 | 4:10 pm

    Great post! Really helpful ideas.

    Would you get the same results from any yellow lenses, like yellow safety glasses? Are the Gunnar’s different in some respect?

  25. Monica
    January 23, 2014 | 12:48 pm

    I’m going to try your tip of taking 1 mg of melatonin at 8 and then another at 9. Your schedule (bed by 11) sounds like what I’ve been striving for but failing (12 am or later). Thanks so much for whatever sacrifices you are making to write. :)

  26. Lee Golder via Facebook
    January 23, 2014 | 8:07 pm

    Tip #8 – not have a teenager who needs to start work at 6am. Yes, I gladly take her to work at that hour, she is not walking to work in the dark.

  27. Stephanie Bogan via Facebook
    January 23, 2014 | 8:22 pm

    Bimodal sleep ;)

  28. Pam
    January 23, 2014 | 10:24 pm

    Some great tips and well-written enough to interest me in the book. However, I am a Homecare Nurse and Client Manager. For the last 2 years have had an older quadriplegic Client who spent his life working 3rd shift, so he wants his bowel program sometime between midnight and 1am. From the time I wake up, drive to his home, complete the program, get him back to bed and arrive back home, at least 2.5 hours have passed. I have to be at the office by 9am for a full 8-9 hour day. Of course I’m sleep deprived and I do use a sleep mask plus earplugs, but there is no way I could manage without Rx Ambien when I get home from that middle of the night visit.

  29. Colin G Senior via Facebook
    January 23, 2014 | 11:04 pm


  30. Stephanie
    January 25, 2014 | 9:07 am

    Thanks for the great tips. I used to always prioritize sleep. I’ve been a total mess since I married a night person who works late. I stay up late with him and then still have to get up early for my daughter and my job. It’s been horrible for my weight and well-being, especially in the winter. Of course 6.5 – 7 hours isn’t enough sleep. Your post gives me some ideas to help myself and my husband get better sleep.

  31. Elaina
    February 11, 2014 | 8:20 pm

    I recently had a problem with my quality of sleep. I went for a year after my son was born exhausted beyond belief, physically and mentally. And trust me, I know tired. When I was a single mother of two children under 3, I never slept. I worked two jobs 7 days a week on top of being mommy with a baby dealing with severe breathing issues and going to school full time. This last year made how tired I felt then seem like nothing. But no matter how much I tried adjusting everything, it never mattered. Turned out my problem was a huge vitamin D deficiency. With my lactose intolerance, living in a very northern latitude and breastfeeding, it was a perfect storm on my body.

  32. Howard Gray via Facebook
    February 11, 2014 | 8:36 pm

    2 tablespoons potato starch in glass of water. Sleep like a log for the first time in years. I’ve tried everything else. Why it works? The resistant starch feeds the guy bacteria that generate tryptophan, precursor to serentonin, the great sleep chemical. And the dreams? OMG!

  33. Kim Zincke Schulz via Facebook
    February 11, 2014 | 10:45 pm

    Kathy Pleasants more sleep help maybe? :)

  34. Victoria Kelly via Facebook
    April 27, 2014 | 7:59 pm

    Justin Kelly

  35. Donald Neal Montgomery via Facebook
    April 27, 2014 | 8:54 pm

    Great suggestions.

  36. rent
    May 31, 2014 | 11:59 pm

    This is my first time visit at here and i am truly impressed to read everthing
    at alone place.

  37. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    July 3, 2014 | 7:27 pm

    get sleep when the sun goes down, then wake up when your body tells you to wake up. Follow the Circadian Rhythm

  38. Danielle Mein via Facebook
    August 17, 2014 | 11:45 pm

    Thomas Grasshoppa Corby try these suggestions

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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