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Let Sleep Seduce You

Have you been staying up every night until midnight watching the Olympics? I have. I love every minute of it except dragging myself exhausted out of bed the next day. Each morning, I resolve to go to bed earlier and break my resolve each night as the latest Olympic drama unfolds. Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross battling for bronze! US women’s 4×100 relay team bumped in lanes–protest ensues! American swimmers held up at gunpoint (or not)! Well, it’s only two and a half weeks and then I will be back to my usual sleep routine.

I first got really interested in the importance of sleep after I had Baby Elvis. You hear most new mamas say, “I’m exhausted, I’m barely getting any sleep.” My experience was no different for the first 5 months, as I was up every 3 hours to feed and comfort my new l’il man. Magically, at month 6, he started to sleep through the night on his own, but I needed a solution for myself to help get my own bedtime routine in check. My friend and trainer extraordinaire Joe Gonzalez, Mr. Mejor Strength himself, recommended Shawn Stevensons’ book, Sleep Smarter. The science blew me away on why WE NEED to get enough sleep and more importantly, quality sleep. One of the four pillars of health at Urban Wellness Clinic is sleep, and IT’S THE ONE that is most brushed aside, especially in the rat race that is New York City.

Think of movement, nutrition, stress, and sleep as the four wheels on a car. If one is off, there’s no way you’re getting to your fabulous destination. An estimated 50-70 million US adults have sleep disorders and this study shows moderate sleep deprivation is equivalent to being under the influence of alcohol.

After many less-than-dignified days and nights of sleep hacking, research, and experimentation, I’m happy to report that I’m finally sleeping easy. For me, this means slowing down and finding ways to give myself the time and space I need before lights out. Thank goodness Baby Elvis sleep-trained himself and is now sleeping through the night like a champ.

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Here are my top 10 tips for getting a great snooze in the sack:

1. Set yourself up for success

The sweet spot for quality sleep is from 10pm-2am. If you’re not to sleep by 11pm, your body gets a second wind. Hello, late night powering through emails! If we all lived in the forest we’d be more natural animals—we’d sleep comfortably in the quiet darkness, and wake with the sunrise. With street lights, garbage trucks, and noisy neighbors in NYC, this natural wind-down is tricky. Create an environment that welcomes sleep rather than scaring it off. Make it dark! If you can see your hand in front of your face, it’s too light. Blackout curtains and eye masks help. Earplugs can take care of pesky sirens. An optimal sleeping temperature is around 60 to 68 degrees.

2. Eat to dream

Don’t eat and then promptly pass out. I know Seamless can do that to you. Last meal of the day should be three hours before bed. Too many carbs at night (this includes alcohol) spikes insulin, which keeps you wide-awake and not accessing that yummy REM sleep. Eat magnesium-rich leafy greens and pumpkin seeds to relax your tired, wired muscles.

3. Supplement sleep

Supplements can do a lot to support tranquility in our imbalanced world. My go-tos:

• L-theanine In capsule form is best: 100-200 mg at bedtime works like a charm.

• Vitamin B complex with extra B5. 50mg daily—excellent for relieving stress and promoting restfulness.

• Melatonin. Have you heard the hype? 1.5mg daily of this natural hormone 30 minutes before bedtime can move you toward healthier sleep patterns. Best in the short-term as you don’t want to shut down your body’s natural production of this powerful hormone and antioxidant.


4. Herbalize it

There are many powerful herbal sleep aids to try before bed. Do avoid dependence and do consult with your doctor first. My personal fave: Kava Kava and Valerian. Get them in tea or tincture form.

5. Caffeine curfew

Coffee culture is rampant. Damage control: use a quality bean to avoid anxiety and jitters. Cut off time of your last cup of the day should be around 10am, since the liver gets a second kick of caffeine 12 hours later. Eat fats (i.e. a veggie omelette) with your coffee for better clarity of mind. If you’re an addict and you know it, start cutting back by a cup a week until you are down to 1 cup a day. Black or green tea helps with withdrawal.

6. Blue lights out!

Blue spectrum light from your iphone and computers cause your cortisol levels to spike and lowers your melatonin! Another reason to pack it up and move to the forest, or Bali, I say. The good news: there’s an app that blocks it out. Generally, try to keep phones and laptops out of the sleep sanctuary and shut down the screens an hour before bed to let the mind chill out.

Five Yoga Poses To Relax After A Stressful Day

7. Pre-slumber yoga move

You’ll see, your body will thank the yoga gods for this move. Lie on the floor with your legs extended straight up the wall for 1-5 minutes before you resort to counting sheep. If your hamstrings are tight, a slight bend to the knees does the trick.

8. Breathe yourself to sleep

Since breathing is what connects us to life, it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s integral to sleep. Try inhaling (4 seconds) and exhaling (8 seconds) through a straw to land your nervous system in a calm, happy state. Meditate for 5-10 minutes before bed. Meditate?! I feel you. This app helps me.

9. Press the reset with a warm Epsom salt bath

Soak yourself for 20-30 minutes. Epsom salt breaks down into magnesium and sulfate, which is perfect for unwinding from the day by relaxing tight muscles.


10. Wake up to workout

Waking up tired and dragging your ass? Your hormones are off! Our cortisol levels peak in the morning to help us jump out of bed carpe diem style. So it’s best to work out as early as possible. Hiit workouts or interval cardio are best. No time? Just 10 minutes of yoga or jumping jacks can do it.

Bonus tips: Urban Wellness Clinic! The Urban Wellness Clinic pro-team makes it our business to get to the root of your issue. Whether it’s massage, acupuncture, or chiropractic adjustment, we’ll help you rest easier. For a full assessment with our specialists, give us a call 212-355-0445 or contact us at

Check out these incredible books that helped me get back to basics:

• Shawn Stevenson’s Sleep Smarter

• Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution