Written by Raymond Salas
Do you have trouble sleeping?
Do you feel like you're running on empty?
Do you need coffee, soda, or sugary snacks to get going and keep going?
If you answered "yes" to any or all of these questions, Dr. Frank Lipman may have a solution for you.
In his book "Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again," Dr. Lipman outlines an easy program to restore energy and health. He has helped thousands of patients through his medical practice with a blend of Western and alternative medicine.
His program offers many solutions for stress, diet, nutrition, and exercise.
One of the key components for Dr. Lipman's program is improving sleep and getting a good night's sleep every night.
How to Get a Good Night's Sleep
Here are Dr. Lipman's recommendations for improving your sleep and sleeping well:
- Don't watch TV in bed.
"There are only two things you should do in bed, and they both begin with the letter 'S,' as in sleep and sex. Save other activities, such as watching TV, working on your laptop, knitting, or even reading, for your easy chair." - Dr. Frank Lipman
The light from watching television or working on your laptop may prevent your natural sleeping rhythm from activating, specifically, stopping melatonin levels from rising (which is needed to induce sleep naturally). Melatonin also plays a vital role in synchronizing our internal body clock, regulating our body's rhythms, and promoting our overall health.
- Have an Electronic Sundown.
What is an Electronic Sundown? Turn your TV, cell phone, and computer off at 10 p.m. (or earlier). Yes, this includes handheld devices like Blackberrys, iPhones, and Treos, and all wireless connections.
The electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) from cell phones, wireless computers, and other devices can drain our energy and affect our health. If you must keep them on, Dr. Lipman advises keeping them as far away from your head as possible and out of the bedroom, if possible.
If there is a show you must watch, record it. If you have work to do, go to bed earlier and get up earlier to do it instead.
- Breathe mindfully before bed.
Here are Dr. Lipman's guidelines for breathing mindfully:
Sit in a chair with a straight back. Place both feet flat on the floor, and lay your hands on your lap, or gently on your thighs. Close your eyes, focus your energy down to your feet, and "watch" as you inhale and exhale through your nose. Take easy breaths. Don't force anything. When you notice your mind wandering or losing focus, simply bring your attention back to feet and breath.
"Watching the breath is a wonderful way to prepare for bed -- it settles the mind, relaxes the body, and is a great way to transition out of your day." - Dr. Frank Lipman
- Take a long bath to relax.
A long bath removes tension and relaxes the muscles. Dr. Lipman recommends adding Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to your bath, which reduces inflammation and restores balance.
- To prepare for sleep, practice the basic Savasana or "corpse" yoga pose for five minutes.
"This pose is deceptively simple. Five minutes of Savasana removes mental and physical fatigue and soothes the sympathetic nervous system." - Dr. Frank Lipman
Here is how to practice Savasana.
- Darken your bedroom.
According to Dr. Lipman, even a tiny bit of light in the bedroom can disrupt our body's natural rhythms and pineal gland's production of serotonin and melatonin.
If you get up in the middle of the night, use a night light or flashlight because as soon as you turn on a bright light in the bathroom (or anywhere else), all melatonin production ceases for that night.
- Before bed, try the Ultimate Foot Massage.
Because of what our feet go through on a daily basis, Dr. Lipman recommends what he calls the "Ultimate Foot Massage" to relieve and repair our feet and body every day.
- Turn thermostat down and keep your bedroom cool for sleep.
Sleeping in a cool room (60-65 degrees F.) mirrors our body's natural rhythm of cooling for sleep and is best for most people, even in winter. The lower temperature stimulates the production and release of hormones for sleep.
In hot weather, Dr. Lipman suggests using a floor or ceiling fan to create a breeze or an air conditioner set at about 70 degrees F.
- Establish a regular sleep schedule.
"Nothing helps your circadian rhythms more than getting up and going to sleep at the same times every day. People who regulate their sleep schedules give their bodies the opportunity to establish a rhythm. Someone who changes sleeping and waking times has a body that constantly needs to recalibrate, which tires it out. In a sense, a lack of schedule puts the body into a perpetual state of mild jet lag." - Dr. Frank Lipman
- Before bed, do something to help you chill out.
Meditate. Listen to a chill mix of your favorite music. Watch a funny movie (before 10p.m., of course) or read a funny book.
- Open your heart more.
For 10-15 minutes, try to engender a sense of gratitude. If negative thoughts interrupt, let them go and continue. One of the most powerful ways I have found to practice and incorporate this into my life daily is by keeping a gratitude journal.
- Try to wake up without an alarm clock.
Once you follow Dr. Lipman's various guidelines and try his recommendations and you are sleeping better, he then recommends trying to wake up without an alarm clock:
"It can be very stressful to your body to be woken up by an alarm clock. So try not using an alarm clock and see if you really need it (after you have regulated and established a sleep schedule where you are waking up at about the same time every day).
If you are stressed by the idea that you will not wake up in time to get to work (school, etc.), lower the volume of the alarm clock and move it across the room so that the volume and impact of the sound are decreased."
To learn more recommendations for improving your sleep, energy levels, and overall health and well-being, check out "Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again" by Dr. Frank Lipman.