Tiffany Lester, MD leads the San Francisco office of Parsley Health, a high-tech holistic health practice with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. She's also the creator of The Unconscious Workout, an online bootcamp for better sleep.
It seems to us as though everyone is having trouble with sleep these days, which obviously isn’t doing our bodies (or — gasp — our skin) any favors. Sadly, we can’t erase the sleep deprivation epidemic by magically manifesting a few extra hours between 2-4am, but we found a great expert whose advice could provide a similar effect.
Tiffany Lester, MD is an internal medicine physician with top-notch training in integrative medicine, medical acupuncture, and functional medicine. It's no wonder she was chosen to lead the San Francisco office of Parsley Health. She also has a particular passion for sleep — she’s the creator of The Unconscious Workout, an online bootcamp for better sleep. We asked her for a few tips on getting a better night’s sleep to share with our Ayla tribe, and she sent us this beautifully written introduction to great sleep.
Can't sleep? Join the club. Nearly 70% of Americans have significant issues with sleep at some point in their lives, and it is one of the most common conditions I treat. When I work one-on-one with patients, fatigue and insomnia are at the top of our list to fix first. If you aren't sleeping well, then nothing else matters. You could be eating the perfect diet, working out regularly, meditating daily…but if you still toss and turn at night and wake up exhausted, then you are fighting a losing battle.
When we sleep, our body is literally cleaning out the cobwebs that have collected throughout the day. This process is essential to our health, and there are no shortcuts. Whether you are a night owl or early bird, your body needs to go through at least 4-5 cycles of the sleep stages. Each cycle is about 90 minutes long, if your body is working optimally. To figure out what time you need to go to bed, you must count backwards. Here’s the math: 90 minutes x 5 cycles = 450 minutes, or 7.5 hours. Determine what time you need to wake up in the morning and count backwards 7.5 hours — this is your ideal bedtime.
During the holidays, it can be especially challenging to get enough sleep, but even more important as we tend to indulge this time of year. Some simple tips to help you a peaceful slumber include:
1. Treat yourself. Buy the best sleep mask you can afford to block out disturbing light which can decrease your melatonin, the sleep hormone. A sleep mask plus your favorite eye cream will keep wrinkles at bay, and you’ll wake up looking and feeling refreshed. (I use a silk pillowcase, too — it's a curly hair girl's best friend.)
2. Relax. Taking magnesium glycinate at night can help your tight muscles and active brain relax for a more restful sleep.
3. Set a caffeine bedtime. As the temperature drops, we tend to drink more warm beverages. Try to stop drinking any caffeinated beverages by noon so that your body has time to metabolize. Caffeine takes about 8 hours to be cleared from your system so that it doesn't disrupt your sleep.
You can find more free tips at The Unconscious Workout, which is like a HIIT workout for sleep - a step-by-step course that will teach you how to get the best sleep of your life in just 21 days.
- Tiffany Lester, MD
Can you see why Tiffany is one of our favorite physicians? She also mentioned that, often, people need individual guidance to get to the root cause of their sleep issues, which can vary widely. Luckily, you can work one-on-one with Dr. Lester through Parsley Health, which offers a personalized approach to your health with state-of-the-art diagnostic tests. Tiffany is located in San Francisco but has patients all across the country, as visits can be virtual or in person.
About Dr. Lester: Tiffany Lester, MD is an internal medicine physician with specialized training in functional medicine, acupuncture, and nutrition. She believes that we all have the ability to take charge of our health. Often, we just need a bridge to that other side. Her mission is to work with individuals to navigate the complexity of the body and get to the root cause of disease. Trained at the University of Cincinnati for medical school and residency, she then completed a two-year integrative medicine fellowship with the renowned Dr. Andrew Weil. Tiffany began her career 5 years ago at Alliance Integrative Medicine - one of the leading integrative medicine centers in the country. During that time, she also became certified in medical acupuncture and began her functional medicine training. Tiffany also writes for leading wellness publications, including The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, and Natural Awakenings. She is passionate about healing chronic disease through a functional medicine approach and teaching people how simple, small shifts can have an enormous impact on their health.