Sleep hygiene: Health depends on sleep

Sleep hygiene, n. conditions or practices to help get some sleep, feel great, have energy, and prevent disease. (Marie’s definition  😉 )

Less than adequate sleep (between 7.5-9 hours for an adult) is associated with diabetes and obesity—likely contributing to their development—along with other common chronic diseases.

Healing and repairing occurs while you sleep. Good quality and quantity of sleep are essential for good health and overall quality of life yet so few of us get enough. Although we experience sleep as a state of unawareness, our brain is sorting memories from the day, processing what we learned, storing emotional responses and associations, creating new neural connections… and our body shifts into a cardiovascular and metabolic state that heals and repairs, removes cellular toxins, and resupplies key nutrients.

How to get good sleep? Here’s your sleep hygiene checklist:

1. Sleep Hygiene Planning and Preparation

Schedule 8½ to 9 hours for a “bedtime routine”.

Create & start this “sleep hygiene” routine at least 30 minutes before you want to be asleep.  Read a book, take a bath, do relaxation yoga, sex, any “slow-down” routine that trains your body to recognize it’s bedtime.

Keep this bedtime routine: Train your biological clock by going to sleep and waking up about the same time each day.

Avoid getting in bed after 11 pm: late-hour sleep is not as healthful as earlier sleep.

Avoid late afternoon or evening naps or naps longer than 45 minutes (unless you are sick or sleep deprived).

Avoid large or spicy meals at dinner and don’t eat too late. Allow an intermittent fast of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast to honor your liver and other night-time organs.

Hydrate well throughout the day and then stop an hour before you get in bed.

Take a hot Epsom salt/Baking soda bath—raising your body temperature before sleep helps induce sleep and reduce tension. The Bath: 1-2 cups Epson salts, ½ to 1 cup baking soda to the hottest water you can enjoy. Soak at least 20 minutes. Drink some water.

2. Minimize/Avoid Stimulants

Avoid alcohol (wine, beer, and hard liquor) within 3 hours of bedtime.

Avoid caffeine- beverages or foods after 4 pm; much earlier if caffeine sensitive (chocolate, Pepsi, Cola’s, Mountain dew, tea, coffees…)

Avoid Sudafed or other decongestant cold medicines at night.

Avoid medications—read the fine print, many medications have stimulating effects and ALL sleep aides disrupt normal sleep wave patterns.

Complete aerobic exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime; resistance training 2 hours prior.

3. Nighttime Tension & Anxiety

Don’t watch harbingers of bad news before going to bed. No checking email, work, or even TV news channels—news sells on controversy; that’s just not relaxing.

Avoid reading stimulating, exciting materials in bed.

Avoid paying bills, checking bank statements or finances or the stock market… before bedtime.

Create a family agreement that all arguments will be resolved or put on hold after 8PM—if it isn’t resolved by then, agree to a time to return to the subject. Then talk about things you enjoy.

Plan time to address any stressful life issues—honestly, schedule this into your day. Take a lunch break or other scheduled time specifically to deal with whatever is troubling you. If thoughts hang around for days, please tell us. There may be a nutritional situation holding the thought in place.

Explore relaxing yoga or stress reducing mindful breathing exercises. Ask us for ideas.


4. Trouble Falling Asleep or Staying Asleep?

sleep hygiene exerciseRead a good, hardcopy, neutral and simply entertaining book. Turn your Kindle or iPad to a dark background or nighttime setting or use a small reading light that just illuminates your book. When your eyes start to close, let them close.

Restless? Use this exercise: Pull up an image of a pleasant memory. Holding that image there, pull up another location and image of another pleasant memory. Holding both of those there, pull up a third… keep going until you fall asleep or are holding eight of these for inspection. This works amazingly well on young children when parents use an encouraging voice: Tell them to “Get a picture of a pleasant memory. Good. Hold it there. Get another picture. Hold both there…

Take a walk after dinner. Separate yourself from your day by taking a walk—then do a different activity that has nothing to do with the business of your day.

5. Disturbing Lights, Noise, Temperature, other… ?

Daylight starts before you are ready? Nighttime doesn’t end? Consider blackout shades or a dark covering over your eyes.

Awaken early with recurrent thoughts? Write them in a journal. If this doesn’t work a nutrient deficiency or chemical toxicity may be holding those thoughts in place. Ask us.

Turn down any bathroom or room lights at least 15 minutes before going to bed. Use wall-plug night lights or dimmers.

Close windows, use ear plugs, or use a white noise generator or a HEPA air filter to create “white noise” and block out random, unusual noise.

Turn off or remove any appliances or clocks that make noise.

Set the temperature of your sleeping area so it is not too hot or too cold.

6. Bedding & Pillows?

Don’t use electric blankets! Electromagnetic fields disrupt your nervous system and your cell’s energy centers (mitochondria). Turn the TV off, the computer screen off, the music off… if you are sensitive, move clock radios, cell phones, computers and monitors at least 8 feet away.

Allergies? Replace your pillows with hypoallergenic pillows and mattress covers. Get correct pillows that support your head and neck and discard those old pillows and matress.

Sleep on the highest quality mattress and bed linens you can afford.

7. Supplements & Therapies?

Talk to us.

Any time you use any remedy without checking it on the body… well, you are guessing. Don’t guess. Please. Let us use Nutrition Response Testing® to build a program that handles any underlying problem so you can get some sleep, finally!


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Marie Sternquist

Marie Sternquist, MS CHHC is a graduate of the University of Colorado, with 30 years of health-related clinical research published peer-reviewed medical journals, Marie's interests lie in how chemical and metal toxicities affect our health, hormones and immune function—and how to heal these problems with whole foods. In 2014, Marie completed the Health Coach program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she studied 100’s of dietary theories with an emphasis on developing step-by-step nutritional programs and is currently working on her Nutritionist certification through the Masters in Functional Nutrition program and the University of Western States. Marie’s signature nutrition programs have helped thousands of people just like you regain health and quality of life. In 2016, Marie Sternquist completed her Advanced Level in Nutrition Response Testing®, joining her husband Dr. Greg Sternquist as an advanced clinician. Marie is also a wilderness explorer, skier, photographer and mom. Visit her at and

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