How to Improve Your Sleep

Dr. Julieann on Sage Health TV

Happy Spring everyone!

We hope that everyone is safe and enjoying this beautiful sunny weather.  In this episode, I am going to be discussing sleep; what factors affect sleep and cause insomnia, and how you can improve your sleep. 

Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders and affects 1/3 of the general population.  It is defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, which leads to daytime fatigue. 

The Benefits of Sleep

  • Improve immune function
  • Secretion of hormones that aid in growth and repair
  • Tissue regeneration
  • Consolidation of memory and improvement in information recall
  • Activation of glymphatic system
  • Prevention of weight gain
  • Longer life span

Generally, people should try to get 8 – 9 hours of sleep a night.  Here are some of the consequences of lack of sleep:

Short Term Consequences:

  • Increased stress
  • Body pain
  • Emotional distress or mood disorders
  • Cognitive memory and performance deficits

Long Term Consequences:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Weight related issues
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease

So, it is especially important that we get an adequate amount of sleep.  The main hormones that play a role in our circadian rhythm are cortisol and melatonin.  Cortisol is at its highest in the morning, and at its lowest in the evening.  It helps us feel awake in the morning as it spikes in the first 30 minutes of awakening, this is called the cortisol awakening response.  Throughout the day, cortisol levels should decrease and by bedtime cortisol levels should be low.  If levels are high, then this can cause an individual to have difficulty falling asleep.  Here are some factors that can increase cortisol:

  • Emotional stress
  • Exercise before bedtime or in the evening
  • Steroids
  • Thyroid and sex hormone imbalances

Melatonin has the oppositive effect as cortisol, and it helps us fall asleep.  Thus, melatonin is at its highest in the evening and lowest in the morning.  Therefore, taking melatonin before bedtime can be helpful for falling asleep.  We want melatonin to be high at bedtime, but there are so many factors in our daily lifestyle that lower melatonin at nighttime causing insomnia.  Here are a few:

  • Ultraviolet A (sunlight, artificial light > 2500 lux, wide spectrum light, summer, outdoors light exposure)
  • EMF (microwave, TV, video monitors, xray)
  • Magnetic fields (magnets, MRI)
  • Aging

Towards the end of this video, I discuss simple tips on how to improve your sleep and optimize your circadian rhythm.  I hope that you find this information helpful!  If you like this video, please do not forget to like, subscribe, and share our channel with your friends and family! 


Dr. Murella





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Julieann Murella