Ways to Improve Sleep from Dr. Rhonda Patrick

Determinants of Good Sleep

There are 3 determinants of good sleep: timing, intensity, duration.

  • Timing has to do with consistently going to bed at the same time each night. Timing has to do with the circadian rhythm…stay up late one night then not good

  • can adjust your own clock by 3 hours per day and no more. So if you stay up more than 3 hours than usual then throw off sleep timing.

  • Intensity has to do with spending the appropriate amount of time in all the sleep cycles because all the stages of sleep are important.

  • Sleep cycles:

– stage 1

– stage 2

– slow wave sleep

– rem sleep

  • Duration has to do with how long you sleep for to make sure you have adequate sleep.

Daylight Anchoring and Light Exposure

“Daylight anchoring” means having 30 minutes of bright sunlight exposure during day because it helps anchor your circadian rhythm. In the evening dim the lights and try to avoid blue light (because that keeps you up). Orange lights are ok and can be turned on at night. Having the appropriate light exposure affects the timing and intensity of sleep.


Exercise improves both the sleep intensity and duration. Several studies have linked exercise to better sleep. Controlled trials have shown that when sedentary women with insomnia exercised (like on a bike) for 30 min. over the course of 16 weeks. They slept on average about 45 minutes longer and felt more rested when they were awake. But it has been shown that in some people exercise in the short term may exacerbate sleep problems and it is only long-term exercise that improves sleep. 

Stress/Arousal Before Bed

People with insomnia often have a hyperactive stress system and social interaction urgency (such as reading an email) or situation also can activate brain to not sleep. It is best not to engage in stimulating tasks immediately before bed. ​

Sleep Best Practices (in review)
  • Get 30 minutes of bright, blue-enriched light early in the day.
  • Avoid blue light in the evening.
  • Engage in sustained physical activity. No shortcuts. Stick with it.
  • Give yourself 30 more minutes in bed than you need.
  • Set a hard time limit to actually be in bed by. This is important for timing, which affects your ability to achieve high-quality slow-wave sleep.
  • Try to optimize your sleep schedule so that you wake up before your alarm sounds whenever possible.

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