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June 28, 2023

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Our sleep series, The Wind Down, provides a minute-by-minute peek into the wind-down routines that get well-being experts ready for bed. Today, we’re relaxing with functional medicine expert Jill Carnahan, MD, who has her sleep routine down to a science.


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I am committed to getting great sleep because it’s such a foundation of optimal performance. 

My goal is to fall asleep in less than 5-10 minutes and spend 25-40 percent of the night in deep sleep and 15-25 percent in REM sleep. Since I wear a sleep tracker, I know I usually get my best deep sleep prior to 1 a.m. and the best REM sleep from 3-6 a.m… so if I go to bed too late, it will cut into my deep sleep, and if I get up too early, I lose REM sleep.

It is much easier to get through an extremely busy and productive day if I have gotten 1.5-2 hours or more of deep sleep. Missing my deep sleep affects me more than missing REM, but over time missing REM adds up to a lack of focus, forgetfulness, and feelings of overwhelm. 

Due to the value that I place on sleep, I rarely book flights prior to 10 a.m. because the lost sleep to get up in time for an early flight at 5 or 6 a.m. is not worth it to me. Keeping a fairly stable routine schedule for sleep is another way I bolster circadian rhythm and restfulness. 

I know that I’ve had a good night’s sleep if I wake up refreshed without an alarm at or before 6 a.m. 

sleep stats written over line gradient

  • Average hours I sleep a night: 6.5 -7 hours
  • Ideal bedtime: 10:30 p.m.
  • Ideal wake-up time: 6:30 a.m.
  • Nightstand essentials: Glass of purified water, organic lip balm, estriol topical cream, magnesium citramate, HU58 probiotic, Aveda hand lotion, books I am currently reading or misc. medical journals.
  • Favorite place I’ve ever slept: In my own Sleep Number bed under my weighted blanket.
  • Sleep bad habit: I don’t have any bad sleep habits. I am exquisitely particular about sleep hygiene because it’s okay to be high maintenance if you are high-performance. Sleep is my superpower!
  • Caffeine consumption: 1-2 cups in a.m. and occasionally 1 cup later in the day if I’m working or podcasting.
  • How I track my sleep: I use the Oura ring.
  • The last product or habit that changed my sleep for the betterHigherDose PEMF Mat level 1
  • The first thing I do when I wake up: Make coffee, stretch, get into alpha meditative state to vision my day/week/month, and pray.

my sleep routine written over gradient


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8:30 p.m. I always make time for a relaxing Epsom salt bath to enhance sleep. Around 8:30, I’ll start running water for a bath, add ½ bag of Epsom salt (3 lbs), and essential oils.

8:45 p.m.: Go back to finishing work, emails, laundry, tidying up the kitchen, and getting the house in order before I go to bed.

9:00 p.m.: I lie on my HigherDose PEMF Mat for 20 minutes.

9:20 p.m.: I change into pajamas, put my hair up, wash my face using an ultrasonic cleaning Foreo Luna device.

9:45 p.m.: Slip into the hot water and soak while I listen to a podcast or audiobook or call my boyfriend.

10. p.m.: Dry off, apply organic lotion to my body, and use my BioPeptide Beauty Cream and HA Collagen Booster on my face and neck.  

10:15 p.m.: I take my evening dose of magnesium and probiotics. Taking a form of magnesium, especially magnesium glycinate, is helpful for relaxation, falling asleep quickly, and preventing leg cramps or restless leg syndrome. The glycine chelate goes on to form GABA, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for relaxation and rest. (Melatonin may be helpful for others, but for me, it just adds to grogginess, so I only take it if traveling internationally to hack jet lag.)

Then, I start to read whatever is on my nightstand. I usually bring three books or five journal articles and get through very little before I start to feel tired within 10-15 minutes of taking magnesium.

10:30 p.m.: I’m usually fast asleep by this time.

I sleep best when the temperature is 65-68 degrees, so I usually open windows if it’s cool outside or turn on the air conditioner at night. I sleep best lying flat on my back, tucked under my weighted blanket. If I’m cool and comfortable, I am unlikely to move much at all at night.


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Jill Carnahan, MD ABIHM, ABoIM, IFMCP author page.

Jill Carnahan, MD ABIHM, ABoIM, IFMCP

Dr. Jill Carnahan is Your Functional Medicine Expert® dually board certified in Family Medicine for 10 years and in Integrative Holistic Medicine. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medical consultations, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, physical therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and therapeutic massage. As a survivor of breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and toxic mold illness she brings a unique perspective to treating patients with complex illness. She specializes in searching for the underlying triggers that contribute to illness through cutting-edge lab testing and practicing personalized medicine.

Featured in People magazine, Shape, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, ownsend Newsletter, and The Huffington Post as well as seen on NBC News and Health segments with Joan Lunden, Dr. Jill is media savvy and full of wisdom. Her YouTube channel and podcast features live interviews with many of healthcare’s most respected clinicians. She co-authored the Personalized and Precision Integrative Cardiovascular Medicine Textbook with Dr. Mark Houston. Her new book, Unexpected: Finding Resilience though Functional Medicine, Science, and Faith is now available for purchase anywhere books are sold. She is an executive producer, film writer and is featured in a new documentary about her journey overcoming illness called Doctor/Patient set to be distributed this year.

A popular inspirational speaker and prolific writer, she shares her knowledge of hope, health and healing live on stage and through newsletters, blog articles, books, and social media posts! Her patients and fans alike are encouraged by her science-back medical knowledge delivered with authenticity, love, and humor. She is known for inspiring her audience to thrive even in the midst of difficulties. Be sure to follow her @drjillcarnahan on Instagram.