Photo by Jacob Bøtter, Via

Photo by Jacob Bøtter, Via

Sleeping through the night can be tough. But tackling this seemingly impossible challenge can have a seriously positive impact on your life! In order to help you more effectively shut down for the evening, we caught up with Spa Week’s new Sleep Expert, Dr. Lisa Shives, to get you some important information on getting a better night’s sleep.

Dr. Shives’ #1 tip for sleeping better: Be more cognizant of light.  “Light is the most powerful factor in whether your brain feels sleepy, or wide awake,” she explained. And she’s not just talking about the light in your room – electronics use is a major factor, too. Our brains are affected by use of electronics, especially iPads and smartphones that we hold close to our face.

Here’s the scientific explanation: According to Dr. Shives, “These types of hand-held electronics send light into our eyes – which wakes up a nerve center in our brains that turns on neurotransmitters, signaling them to be alert.” The phrase “a light switch turned on in my brain” is not just a metaphor, but literally what you are doing by holding these electronics up to your face.

The Prescription: No electronics one or two hours before bed! Use this time as important “me” time – you don’t have to be available 24/7 to answer e-mails! Instead, listen to audiobooks. Audiobooks work great because you can listen in the dark, helping your mind unwind for the evening. Another plus: they help to take your mind off of getting sleep – which is the worst thing you can stress about. So if you want to start sleeping better, treat your brain like a computer – unplug to shut down!

About this author: Nationally recognized sleep expert Dr. Lisa Shives is the founder of Chicago-based Northshore Sleep Medicine, where she specialized in diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of all major sleep disorders in adults and children. With almost a decade of experience, Dr. Shives completed a fellowship in Sleep Medicine at the University of Chicago, and is double-boarded in Sleep Medicine by the American Board of Sleep Medicine (for which she’s an official spokesperson) and the American Board of Internal Medicine.

 Another way to sleep better? By winning the prizes in our A Better You Giveaway. Enter until January 31st for a chance to win some sleep-focused prizes!

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