A little-known secret to getting a good night’s sleep is keeping the pH of your body alkaline rather than acidic.

PROBLEM: A typical diet (too much processed food, red meat, dairy, fried food, sugar, salt, coffee and alcohol) and lifestyle (constant stress) acidify the body—a major reason why so many people don’t get a good night’s sleep. An acidic body chemistry creates tension, making it difficult to fall asleep. But an alkaline body chemistry creates a relaxed feeling.

HOME REMEDY: Try a saltwater foot soak. Scientists haven’t looked at this practice, but my clinical experience shows that it works. What to do: Before bed, soak your feet for 20 minutes in hot water and sea salt, which is the best source of minerals to alkalinize and relax the body.

For an average-sized foot bath, add about one-half cup of sea salt to the water. If you’re soaking your feet in a regular bathroom tub, use about one to two cups of salt. There are many types of sea salt, each with different beneficial minerals. I prefer Dead Sea salt, which has a high concentration of magnesium to relax the nervous system and other minerals (available online and in health-food stores).

NOTE: The water temperature for your foot soak should be as hot as your feet can bear—but not hot enough to break a sweat above your lip or to cause a burn. To keep the water hot for 20 minutes, add more hot water during the soak. Caution: If you have diabetes, check with your doctor before doing this. Neuropathy, a complication of diabetes that can cause loss of feeling in the feet, could prevent you from noticing that the water is too hot.