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Sleep Your Way to Better Health

body Jun 01, 2021

In our current world with increased stress, demands and uncertainty, one of the key strategies for optimal health and wellness is to ensure that you are getting adequate sleep and rest. Getting a good night of sleep helps to boost your immunity, improves your mood, helps you to think more clearly, and even keeps your weight under control. If you struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or feel as though the sleep you are getting is not restorative, here are ten tips to help improve your sleep, rest and re-energize.

Tip 1:  Avoid caffeine late in the day

Many of us when we are feeling sluggish late in the afternoon reach for a cup of coffee or a caffeinated soda. Though this may give a short boost of energy, the affects of caffeine can linger for up to 6 hours after drinking it, impacting your ability to fall asleep easily. Work to have your last caffeinated drink before 3pm, so that it won’t affect your ability to get to sleep.

Tip 2: Limit alcohol intake

Alcohol has long been used as a sleep aid by many, as drinking it causes a feeling of drowsiness and relaxation. Though it may help you fall asleep faster, it contributes to poor quality sleep and can inhibit the restorative effects of sleep. Alcohol has been known to block REM sleep, which is considered the most restorative type of sleep, which can leave you feeling groggy and foggy upon waking. It can also worsen snoring and sleep apnea and increases your trips to the bathroom during the night.

Tip 3: Have a nightly sleep routine

Having a regular nightly routine can assist with improving your sleep patterns. Try setting an alarm on your phone each night to remind you it’s time to wind down. Plan to be in bed at least 8 to 9 hours before you need to be up. This will allow you time to settle in and obtain the needed 7 to 8 hours of sleep that your body desires. Having a consistent nightly routine such as washing your face, brushing your teeth, and reading a book for 15 minutes, you will train your brain when to feel sleepy.

Tip 4: Keep your bedroom cool

Keeping your bedroom cool year-round, not just in the middle of summer, has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, helps to prevent disease and even slows down the aging process. Your body’s temperature will naturally drop as nighttime approaches, letting you know that it’s time to slow down and rest. Keeping your bedroom cool (60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit) reinforces the body’s instinct to sleep. At lower temperatures the body will also stimulate the production of melatonin, a natural anti-aging hormone that boosts and promotes sleep.

Tip 5: Turn off technology

One of the key things impacting your sleep these days is technology. Whether it is having the television on watching the nightly news, checking your social media accounts on your phone, or responding to that last-minute work email on your laptop, technology is disrupting your sleep. The lights from these devices can impact your melatonin production, and often the negative content impacts your mood and stress levels. Setting yourself a “digital curfew” even 30 minutes before bed can help your mind to decompress and relax, assisting with a more restful sleep.

Tip 6: No late-night snacking

While you are sleeping, your digestive system will continue to work, but it slows down considerably during this time so that the body’s other systems can be more productive. If you eat a large meal, or snack, right before going to bed, your digestive system will not have adequate time to rest, which can lead to heartburn, indigestion, acid-reflux, and sleep disturbances.

Tip 7:  Write out that to-do list

Many struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, as the mind is “racing” with the numerous items to be completed on our to-do list. Add into your nightly routine writing out your next day’s list of items to be completed. Getting your thoughts down on paper is an offloading process and works to reduce stress and tension built up in the mind.

Tip 8: Calm your mind and body

One way to help your body and mind to calm and relax, assisting in a more restful night of sleep, is to do breathing exercises and mantras while laying in bed. Calming breathing assists your body to move into the parasympathetic state, where it can rest, relax and digest. Lying flat in bed, inhale through your nose for a count of four, then hold your breath for a count of four, next exhale out through your mouth for a count of six. As you breathe in for the count of four, repeat in your head “I am calm”. As you hold your breath for the count of four, repeat in your head “I can rest”. With your exhale and count of six, repeat in your head “I welcome sleep into my being”.

Tip 9: Try a weighted blanket

Many people have found benefits of using a weighted blanket to assist with their sleep. Multiple studies have shown that the weighted blanket helps to lower cortisol levels, and boost melatonin production. The blankets pressure has been found to be soothing and helps to prevent tossing and turning during the night.

Tip 10: Natural sleep aides

When all else fails try taking a natural sleep aid to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Natural sleep aides include things like Melatonin, 5-HTP, Magnesium, Valerian Root, Lemon Balm, Passionflower, and Hops Cone extracts. Make sure that you are getting your natural sleep aides from a trusted supplier, along with a health provider’s recommendation.

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