Let Sleep Smarter be your Guide to Better Health

In honor of National Sleep Awareness Month, I’m sharing with you 5 ways to Optimize your Sleep!  Several years ago I picked up Shawn Stevenson’s book, Sleep Smarter.  I’m a big fan of Shawn Stevenson and his top health and wellness podcast, The Model Health Show.  His book, Sleep Smarter is a favorite resource, offering insights and research about the role of sleep on our health and well-being.

Have you sacrificed sleep to get things done?  With plenty of distractions and never ending list of to-dos, we no longer prioritize sleep.  However, we know that for our physical and mental health to thrive, we need good quality of sleep at least 7 hours every night.

How do you feel when you’re sleep deprived?  Personally, I am not fully functional when I’ve had less than 7 hours of sleep for a few nights in a row. I feel exhausted and much less productive.


Shawn’s health transformation journey led him to realizing the value of sleep.  At a young age, he was diagnosed with a spinal condition called degenerative disc disease.  According to Shawn’s doctor, this was an incurable disease.  His spine was rapidly deteriorating and resembling that of an 80-yr old man.

However, instead of merely managing through the pain, Shawn took the reins and started to learn more about his body and overall health.  His curiosity and relentless pursuit to improve his condition led him to make changes in his diet and exercise with incredible results!  The pain disappeared and eventually his spine healed.

Along with the proper nutrition and exercise, sleep played a huge role in the healing process.  Because of the powerful way sleep transformed his health,  Shawn felt compelled to write a book.  If you’d like to learn more about Shawn’s story, listen to his podcast episode, My Story of Healing: The Soul and Science of Transforming Your Health.

Always remember the value of sleep, you will perform better, make better decisions, and have a better body when you get the sleep your require…It’s a natural state your body requires to boost your hormone function; heal your muscles, tissues, and organs; protect you from diseases; and make your mind work at its optimal level…You will work better, be more efficient, and get more stuff done when you’re properly rested.” – Shawn Stevenson


How can we optimize sleep?  Thanks to Shawn Stevenson and his bestselling book, Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success, we have 21 strategies available to help us sleep better at night.   Here are 5 of the 21 you can try to help you get the sleep you deserve!


Artificial blue light emitted by electronic screens triggers your body to produce more daytime hormones (such as cortisol) and disorients your body’s natural preparation for sleep.

Do you feel incomplete without your phone?  Do you pick it up the minute you get up and never leave your sight until you fall asleep?  Unfortunately, it’s easy to get trapped in the ‘social media black hole’.  When you scroll on Facebook or Instagram, your body releases a powerful chemical called dopamine –  a brain chemical that causes a seeking behavior.  It is followed up by the opioid system where it gives you the pleasure of the results you seek.  You get stuck in this continuous loop of constantly seeking and receiving a reward.
How do you solve this problem?  Look for a pleasurable alternative!  For me, it’s reading a book or writing in my journal.  For you, it could be listening to music or talking with your loved one.


Electronic devices emit both electric and magnetic fields known as EMFs. EMFs cause disruption in the communication among the cells in our bodies.

EMF coming from your cell device significantly disrupts melatonin secretion, therefore impacting your quality of sleep.  Melatonin is a hormone that lets your body know when it’s time for sleep and when to wake up.
What else about EMF that’s disturbing? In 2011, a document was released by the World Health Organization (WHO)/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which classified cell phone radiation as a Group 2B carcinogen.  This was based on an increased risk of a malignant type of brain cancer, glioma from cell phone use. Yikes!
So turn off your phone, leave it outside of your bedroom and invest in an alarm clock.


Guess what’s the best temperature for sleep?  Between 60 to 68 degrees F.

The body’s core temperature fluctuates throughout the day, but in the evening, it goes down as your body prepares for sleep.  If the temperature of your home is more than the ideal temperature (60 to 68 degrees), it’s harder for your body to get good sleep.  In our home, we turn off the thermostat at night and the house temp goes down to a cool 62 degrees.
Besides the thermostat in your home, you also have to check your “Internal Thermostat”.  Stress and anxiety are likely contributors to an increase in core body temperature.
“…stress can arouse your system, elevate your body temperature, and unwittingly disrupt your sleep.  You absolutely must have a strategy to manage stress in our high stress world today, or you can sleep in an igloo and still not be cool enough.”


Meditation increases ‘feel-good’ hormones and endorphins, lowers stress hormones like cortisol, and even reduces inflammation in the body.

For those who feel meditation takes too much time, you can keep it simple by starting with a five minute session.  Right before bed, take a moment to focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body.  You can also do mini-sessions throughout the day to help you feel calm and stay present especially during stressful moments.
There are many apps available if you prefer a guided meditation.  For years, I’ve been using the Calm app, where I’ve made it a part of my morning routine to meditate at least ten minutes.
“As the American Academy of Sleep Medicine research showed, meditating in the morning is proven to help test subjects sleep at night.   You’re creating a conscious neuro-pathway to relaxation, a buffer against stress, and a profound sense of presence that will help you sleep better in the evening.”


Food isn’t just food – it’s also information.  The nutritional content of the food you consume (or lack thereof), stimulate internal processes that determine what your body, health, and sleep will look like.

Here’s something you might not know –  the health of your gut impacts the quality of your sleep.  Serotonin, the building block for melatonin, mostly resides in the gut (95%!).  Recall that melatonin is the hormone that signals your body to sleep.  When you have a gut imbalance, the production of serotonin is affected.
What’s been clinically proven to damage your gut microbiome?  Processed foods, chemical food additives and preservatives, pesticides, chlorinated water to name a few. More are listed in the book.



Along with proper nutrition, physical activity and healthy stress relief, sleep is another important component to achieve balance in your wellness.  The amount and quality of sleep you get each night touches every aspect of your well-being – physically, mentally, and spiritually.


Which of these strategies do you think would be most helpful to get you the best quality of sleep?

Would you like to set goals for you to increase your sleep quality?  Download a free resource with questions to help you SMART Sleep Health goals!



  1. Great tips! I really should get back into reading/journaling again–it’d definitely be better than all the screen time.

  2. These are great sleeping tips! I need to start practicing the no cell phone zone – I scroll news articles in bed before I go to sleep, but the articles fuel my anxiety. I know this, yet I do it to myself every night anywas 🙂

  3. I really need to work on better sleep habits. These are great places to start. I need a good bedtime routine that doesn’t start with falling asleep watching tv. 🙂

  4. Well considering it’s 7:15 pm and I’ve now been awake for 15-1/2 hours, yeah…

  5. One thing I started to do this week was limiting my screen time on my phone an hour before going to bed. It has really helped!

  6. I definitely treasure my good sleep nights! We keep our room around 66 and that really helps. Now to get my hubs to put his phone away sooner at night

  7. OMG I would freeze at 60-68 degrees!!!! So would our hedgehog! We keep it at 72 and I still pile on the blankets.

  8. Fabulous advice. I need to take it to heart…as I sit here typing in bed!

    1. I understand – it’s more common for us nowadays to do work before bed.

  9. This is really interesting. Any strategies to get better sleep are welcome over here, lol.

  10. I’ve been having a hard time getting to sleep but I also am on my iPad before bed and never thought before about how that effects my sleep….

    1. Yes I believe the light from these devices significantly affects our sleep cycle. Hope your sleep improves soon!

  11. Wow, what a great in-depth post on a very important area for our everyday health and ability to enjoy life and be productive. I know I will be referring back to this and reading for at least a second or third time to get all the points but it will be worth it to improve my own sleep quality.

    1. Thanks Nicole – I hope it helps!

  12. This is all great advice, I definitely need help with sleeping. I agree that turning off electronics is a hard habit to break! Just like now, I’m on my laptop right before bed….. haha.

    1. Thanks Stephanie! Yup electronics is my weakness but working on limiting the amount of time I spend on it each night.

  13. Sleep is one thing I have never had a problem with, I can sleep almost anywhere. But this was very informative and I’ll be sharing a few of these with my husband. Thank you!

    1. Good to hear sleep is not an issue for you at all.

  14. I love sleep haha that being said, I USUALLY go to bed too late. I’ve been trying to get to sleep by 10:30, though, and I see it helping!

    1. Gosh I remember sleeping in very late in the day on the weekends before I had kids. Not anymore! My problem is going to bed late as well. My goal is around 10pm.

  15. I love reading and this is a book I need to add to my library. I’ve set a goal for this month of sleeping more, and making it a priority. This is something that I know will benefit me in many ways. Thanks for sharing! Xoxo

    1. Wow Jenny, that’s an awesome goal! I need to set the same as well since I’ve been waking up very early (around 5am) but haven’t adjusted the time I go to bed. Yes definitely check out the book. Thank you!

  16. Thanks for all the tips!! I definitely need to practice some of these.

    1. You’re welcome Brandi. I hope it was helpful.

  17. I’ve always been so bad about getting good sleep… I need to check this out!

    1. I think it’s a great resource. The final pages of the book is dedicated to incorporating the strategies day by day into a 14-day plan to make it even simpler for those who are interested in upgrading their sleep quality.

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