A Doctor’s Evening Routine for Restorative Sleep
May 8th, 2015
As a functional medicine physician running my own clinic, seeing patients, and writing books and blogs, my days are long and I’m on the go nonstop. My evenings are my time to relax, unwind, and take care of my own health, so I can stay energized and focused enough to help others!
My evening routine is all about preparing my body for quality, restorative sleep. Sleep determines hormones, energy levels, and how well you recover from illness. My body uses the hours I spend asleep to repair itself and help get rid of the unwanted toxins I encounter throughout the day. Sleep—deep, healing sleep—is essential to reducing inflammation and keeping the immune system healthy. I write all about this in both The Autoimmune Solution, and The Thyroid Connection.
In order for your sleep to do you any good, you need to be able to relieve your stress. You also want to make sure that you aren’t using chemical-laden body products at night that will interfere with your body’s ability to detoxify. Just as I did in my morning routine, I’m sharing the products I use each evening and providing links in this article because I believe in the products, and I want you to be able to find them easily. I’m always trying new products and adding them to my online store—if you’re looking for something specific, try searching there if I don’t mention it in this article. Or, ask me in the comments below!
My Evening Routine:
1. After work, I clear my head by taking a 2-mile walk with Mocha, or I hit the gym for kettle bells, jump rope, and weights.
3. As soon as the sun starts to set, I put on my pair of amber glasses. Too much electric lighting from your lightbulbs, TVs, and computer and smartphone screens, can trick your body into thinking it’s day time and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. That’s because they emit primarily blue light, which inhibits your production of melatonin. Amber glasses block out the blue light that inhibits your production of melatonin, allowing your body to naturally feel tired and sleepy as the evening progresses. The fact that I wear these glasses all evening drives my husband, Xavier, a little crazy—but this step in my routine has made a huge difference in the quality of my sleep.
In addition to wearing my amber glasses, once the sun begins to set I use amber light bulbs, which emit amber light instead of blue light. I also use the f.lux app on my smartphone and laptop, which automatically switches the screen to an an amber hue at night. And most smartphones now have a “night mode” feature that does the same thing.
5. Some nights, I unwind with a soothing session in my Sunlighten Sauna, followed by a hot shower. Because toxins in water can be absorbed through skin, I use an Aquasana shower head to filter them out.
Other nights, I take a hot bath with homemade bath salts, or a bubble bath with Babo Botanicals Lavendar Bubble bath. We don’t have a whole house water filter system, so I simply pull the Aquasana shower head into the tub and fill it up that way.
In the shower, I wash with Dr. Bronner’s or EO Lavender, and I use an exfoliating mitt. I generally wash my hair at night so I can sleep a few extra minutes in the morning. Right now I’m loving VERB shampoo and conditioner. I also like Nine Naturals.
Now I’ll admit, of all of the natural products, finding a really good clean shampoo and conditioner for me has been difficult. I have thick but very fine hair and I wash it every 2-3 days. So if you love a particular brand, let me know in the comments below!
I used to use coconut oil or CitriSafe glutathione in coconut oil, but Mocha LOVES the taste of coconut oil. She follows me around the house and won’t stop licking my arms and legs, so I had to stop!
7. I then refill my tea with hot water so I can relax a bit longer and spend time connecting with my husband, Xavier.
9. Finally, I brush my teeth with homemade toxin-free toothpaste using my Sonicare toothbrush. (You can find videos and recipes all of my favorite toxin-free home and body recipes here). After I brush my teeth, I always use my WaterPik. It helps me get in between my teeth and really get them clean.
A WaterPik is a little device that shoots a stream of water at your teeth, allowing you to clean in between them without dental floss or a toothpick—that makes it especially great for people with braces or permanent retainers. I’ve found it much easier to stick to a WaterPik regimen than one involving dental floss. Flossing can be uncomfortable–especially if you have sensitive gums that are prone to bleeding–but WaterPiks are very gentle. The stream of water flushes bacteria out of the pockets between your gums and teeth, which dental floss can’t reach. Overall, it has become an indispensible part of my morning and evening routine.
Then it’s lights out, as I drift into a restorative, detoxifying night of sleep! As I mentioned before, your body does much of its detoxification while you’re asleep. It’s time your body uses to repair damaged tissue and get rid of the toxins and junk you’ve been exposed to throughout the day. For this reason, I keep a HEPA filter in my bedroom and sleep on an organic mattress so that I’m not breathing in or absorbing toxins while I sleep, adding to my body’s toxic burden.
Sometimes, I break from my relaxing routine–and sometimes, even after adhering to my routine, my mind is racing with trying to figure out how I can help more people take back their health. If I know I’m going to have a bit of trouble sleeping, I will take a magnesium supplement. Magnesium is great for relieving occasional head tension & discomfort and supports a relaxed mood. I take NeuroCalm Magnesium every night to help me gradually and naturally relax and fall to sleep.