Dr. Pam Peeke is Embr’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO). She is a nationally renowned physician, scientist, expert, and thought leader in the fields of integrative and preventive medicine. In addition to writing three New York Times bestselling books, hosting a popular women’s health and wellness podcast, and being a celebrated TEDx speaker, Dr. Peeke is an avid triathlete, outdoors person, and dog lover.
1. Make sure to get enough light during the day
Especially during the winter months, it can be hard to get enough light during the day. Many of us understand that this can have a big impact on our moods, but it also can impact our sleep. Dr. Peeke explains: “we live on a circadian rhythm that’s 24 hours each day — you have a daytime and a nighttime. If you don’t get enough daylight, you don’t maintain synchrony with your own clock, which can really mess up your sleep.”
Dr. Peeke recommends making sure that your light exposure increases during the day. This can be extra motivation to go outside during your day, even if that means a short walk at lunch. If that’s not possible, do your best to make your environment bright: work somewhere with windows or turn on the lights if your space is usually dark. Being attentive to these daytime and nighttime rhythms can be a huge step towards feeling more rested.
2. But get the lights off when it’s finally time
For many of us, the last thing we do before bed is check our devices. It’s hard not to, many people keep their alarms on their phones or read a book on their tablet as a nighttime routine. That being said, it’s fairly well documented that the light from our screens can majorly disrupt our sleep. That’s because the blue wavelengths emitted by our devices boost attention, reaction time, and mood — good for our workdays, but less so bedtime.
The easiest way to manage this is to put your phone away two or so hours before bed. If that’s not so possible, try and limit other screens by a certain hour of the day, or stop computer usage from your bed. Even just cutting out some of your screen time can have a big impact on your night of sleep. “Don’t be sitting there with your nose in a text message right before you go to bed,” Dr. Peeke suggests. “Read a book, take a bath, just relax.”
3. Get up at the same time (yes, even on weekends)
A huge part of sleep hygiene is creating habits and routines around sleeping, and Dr. Peeke is a big believer in this. Some of that is bedtime habits and making sure that you’re getting to bed on time with limited distractions. However, a less talked about strategy is waking up at the same time every day — even on the weekends.
Like we mentioned earlier, our bodies are on a 24-hour circadian rhythm clock. When that clock is misaligned, it can disrupt all sorts of things. Going to sleep at the same time can sometimes be tricky; even when we close our eyes at the same, we can’t really control when we’ll actually nod off. That being said, waking up at the same time (if we commit to not hitting the snooze), is manageable and helps to reinforce our circadian rhythm. In return, we are actually prompted to go to sleep at the same time every night. “Develop a routine, and stick to a routine,” says Dr. Peeke. “The more regularity, the more optimal sleep you’re going to get.”
4. Get your temperature right
It’s probably not surprising that sleep and temperature are related. Many of us have been up at night, tossing and turning because our room feels like a furnace, or shivering because our partner took all the covers. “A lot of people find that bedroom temperature is key to maintaining excellent sleep.” Explained Dr. Peeke.
There is an intimate relationship between sleep and temperature that goes beyond just putting the thermostat on the right setting for you. Your body changes temperature throughout the day, in line with your Circadian rhythm. It’s why you’ve likely observed that when you have a fever, it tends to spike mid-day. Falling asleep is accompanied by a drop in core body temperature, as well as entering REM sleep.
Because of this, it’s generally agreed upon that sleeping in cooler temperatures helps you fall asleep faster and have better sleep quality overall. Rooms with temperatures of 60-68 degrees help stimulate the production of melatonin, which encourages sleep. “A lot of people sleep with their bedroom way warmer than it should be.” Dr. Peeke says. “Try experimenting with how far below 68 degrees you can go while still staying comfortable.”
5. Your health habits during the day impact you at night
There are so many wellness habits that can impact your sleep. How you take care of your body and mind during the day can play a huge role in your night. Dr. Peeke says things like drinking too much before bed, not getting physically active, or eating too close to bed can all contribute to a suboptimal night of sleep.
Her biggest tip, though, is to focus on the mental health aspect of that. “Just avoid high stress as much as you can.” Says Dr. Peeke. “Clear away some time, carve it out. If you can add a relaxing bath or shower, that’s great.” Taking it easy in the evening, and taking good care of your body during your day, can help you feel more well-rested at night.