As emergency medicine doctors, we clock in and out at all hours, making it tough to get enough rest.

Physicians also come from a culture where boasting about getting by on little or no sleep is common or even boasted about. But we want to push back on that idea.

Sleep is fundamentally important to physical, mental and emotional health. Meanwhile, sleep deprivation contributes to chronic conditions like depression, obesity, diabetes and strokes.

Here are eight things that help us wake up refreshed every day:

1. Minimize light in the room

Darkness promotes relaxation and stimulates the brain’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our circadian rhythm.

Blackout curtains or shades are effective mimickers of darkness, and a comfortable eye mask does the same trick. Remember to turn off or dim devices that give off light.

2. Decrease the temperature

Sleep and body temperature are linked. As our temperature drops while we sleep, a cooler room allows for a consistent body temperature so we stay asleep longer.

Extreme cold or heat is not a great idea, as these environments are sleep disruptive. Neither shivering nor sweating are particularly relaxing or comfortable.

 3. Avoid eating close to bedtime

Going to sleep on a full stomach is not good for digestion and is associated with acid reflux.

My colleagues and I try to eat on shift, a few hours before we anticipate sleeping. We opt for room temperature or warm drinks (e.g. water herbal, caffeine free tea, like chamomile) instead of late night snacking.

4. Take a warm bath or shower

5. Pick a calming scent

We love lavender and eucalyptus. The science shows that lavender oil is relaxing and is effective as a sleep aid.

The same is true for eucalyptus oil, which has an added sinus clearing property that helps people who experience congestion at night. Spray it lightly on your chest, neck, or pillow to capture the scent.

6. Integrate an exercise routine

7. Use sound conditioning

8. Sleep on a comfortable mattress

We recommend a mattress that allows spine alignment and body relaxation. The mattress, bedding, and clothing you wear to bed all contribute to your body temperature. You should feel comfortable and dry.

Restful and consistent sleep is a struggle for many people, and we hope that these tips can help you find a routine that works for you.

Adaira Landry, MD, MEd, is an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is also the co-founder of, and co-author of “MicroSkills: Small Actions, Big Impact.”

Resa E. Lewiss, MD, is a Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, creator host of The Visible Voices Podcast, and co-author of “MicroSkills: Small Actions, Big Impact.”

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