Crucial Keys to Unlock Restful Sleep

Sleep is critical for health. You need good, quality sleep for restoration and healing, for optimal cognitive function (memory, problem-solving ability, mental clarity, learning and retaining what you learned), for mood regulation, for physical performance, weight management, cardiovascular health, immune system support, reduction of inflammation, and in general, for a long, healthy life.

Not enough sleep, especially, severe sleep deprivation, can result in increased risk of accidents (particularly motor vehicle and operating machinery), a weakened immune system, obesity, cognitive decline, decreased ability to problem solve, impaired metabolism, mood disturbances, decreased libido, and of course, fatigue.

Here are some keys to improving sleep:

Balance your hormones. The pineal, pituitary, thyroid, adrenals, parathyroid, pancreas, and hypothalamus are all glands that have an impact on sleep, most of which by producing the appropriate hormones. To support hormonal health, you must have a balance of minerals (not isolated minerals, but in their naturally-occurring balanced food form), quality proteins, and good essential fatty acids. You can’t make something out of nothing. If these nutrients are deficient, the body can’t make the hormones these glands require, the body’s messenger system to support sleep doesn’t function properly, and the other detrimental effects of sleep deprivation take a foot-hold.

Some consumables interfere with sleep such as alcohol, caffeine, bad fats, sugar and processed foods.

The pituitary and pineal glands are key. The pituitary produces hormones such as growth hormone and adrenocorticotrophic hormone which are necessary for repair during sleep and the sleep rhythm. The one most often neglected is the pineal gland. The pineal gland makes melatonin, a hormone critical for sleep. If your melatonin levels are low, please don’t take melatonin from a bottle! Get your pineal to work by paying attention to the dietary factors listed above and controlling lighting. Dim lights in your house as bedtime approaches. Stop all media with lights – cell phones, tablets, TV, computers, etc. at least 2-3 hours before bed. Turn off the lights in your bedroom, identify sources of lights such as LED’s on chargers, TV’s, power cords, and lights coming in through the window and darken them as much as you can.

Taking minerals with fish oils at bedtime can be valuable in not only supplying some of the vital nutrients, but also by allowing the autonomic nervous system to switch from the sympathetic nervous system mode (active mode) to the parasympathetic nervous system mode (sleep mode).

Acupuncture is also helpful in regulating the autonomic nervous system. Acupuncture is calming, activates several neurotransmitters key for sleep such as serotonin and dopamine, it helps regulate the endorphins that control pain and moods, reduces inflammation, regulates hormones, reduces anxiety and stress, and improves the quality and quantity of the deep, slow wave sleep that is considered restorative and critical to overall health and well-being.

Want to hear more from Dr. Carling? Check out our podcast. Search for VitalHealth4You on your favorite podcast listening app or go to

©2024 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

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