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6 Simple Solutions for a Better Sleep
I have often wished that I had a button that would switch off my brain at night. My mind seems to be a great deal more active when I’m trying to get to sleep, than first thing in the morning. Studies show that 20-40% of all adults have insomnia in the course of any year. Even one sleepless night can throw your cycle and you often feel like you’ll never be able to catch up that one night of lost sleep. Due to my night-owl tendencies, I have come up with 6 of the best tried and tested ways to have a successful slumber.
1. Know what Keeps You Up at Night & Write It Down
One of the most prominent reasons for not being able to fall asleep is because we have things bothering us, or issues playing on our mind. The key is to figuring out what it is. It could be relationship issues, financial or even something in the future or past that is playing on your mind in a negative way. So once you have figured out what is eating away at you into the early hours of the morning, you need to try and find simple and effective solutions for your problems. If it’s relationship issues for example, speak to your partner or friend about it so you can get the issue off your chest and try and solve what’s bothering you. Always have a pen and paper next to your bed and when these troubles pop into your head, write them down and tell yourself that it is tomorrow’s problem and you can deal with it then:)
2. Make a Sleep Schedule
It may sound like something you do for toddlers and maybe it is, but no matter how old or young we are, we all need to get enough sleep and it’s something you should never compromise. According to MindBodyGreen if you prefer going to bed later, they recommend using that time when you feel most energized, to get yourself organized for the next day. Plan your outfit, lay out gym clothes, file papers, pack your office bag, prepare lunches or prep an easy on-the-go breakfast to stash in the fridge overnight. Just a little prep work (say, 15 to 30 minutes) will help ease the morning rush. How much is enough, you may be thinking to yourself. According to research, we should all get 7-9 hours of sleep. So if you do prefer going to bed later make sure you getting the right amount of hours in. Most people have a lot owing in their ‘sleep debt’. Meaning that there are hours that are ‘owed’ to sleeping. Making a schedule, or having a set time you go to sleep is something you should make a priority.
3.Find Your Perfect Pre-Sleep Ritual
Finding your pre-sleep ritual may seem strange, but once you have your routine and you know it works you will not look back. What most people seem to struggle with today is switching off the TV, not checking emails or scrolling through Facebook on their iPad or iPhone.
Avoiding blue lights is something you have to make part of your evening ritual for sound sleep.
That said, there are ways to get around still watching your movie or series at night. You can buy amber-hued glasses that you wear at night to reduce the blue light affecting you. An easier solution is downloading F.lux, which is free software that removes blue light from your computer or laptop.
It might sound unrealistic but it is better to NOT do these things while lying in bed. The experts say that the bedroom should purely be a place for sleep and intimacy. You should be setting aside 30 minutes for your ritual. A quick and easy activity to add into your schedule is to make a cup of chamomile or valerian tea, as your body will begin to associate the calming tea with preparing itself for sleep. The same applies with having a hot bath or shower before bed.
Lycopene is an important nutrient to combat bad sleeping. You can find this in foods such as grapefruit, tomatoes, papaya and watermelon.
Vitamin C is also known to help with encouraging sleep, so eat fruits such as strawberries, pineapples, broccoli and kale.
Cherries are one of the few fruits that contain melatonin, which is the chemical that helps control our body’s internal alarm clock – according to Keri Gans who is a registered dietician and author.
According to Kriss Carr (author and blogger), carb-rich healthy dinners, bananas, pineapple, and oranges not only contain melatonin but also boost the body’s innate production. A scrumptious post-dinner fruit salad or green smoothie with these tropical delights can help your body easily get ready for dreamland.
Sweet potatoes are also meant to work wonders for sending you to slumber-land as they contain sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates, that also contain muscle-relaxant potassium. High magnesium foods are another way to go, which includes foods such as nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains and avocados. Magnesium and calcium are both sleep boosters, and when taken together, they become even more effective.
We should always avoid food and drink with a high sugar content after around 3pm. Sorry…but alcohol should also be avoided if you are battling to sleep, as it often has a high sugar content that we don’t think of.
Even just 30 minutes of exercise can assist in getting having a better sleep. A new study has shown that people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week,. Though research shows that exercise is certainly good for one’s body and health, properly timing exercise is necessary to maximize the beneficial effects. For example, a good workout can make you more alert, speed up your metabolism and energize you for the day ahead, but exercise right before bedtime can lead to a poor night’s sleep. Sleep experts recommend exercising at least three hours before bedtime, and the best time is usually late afternoon. Although I can’t bring myself to do it very often, getting up earlier than you need to, so that you can fit in exercise before work, is a really great way to make sure you’re exhausted by bed time, ensuring a good night’s sleep
WebMD shared a research project on exercising and whether it assisted in a better sleep, so they compared a group of people who only mentally exerted themselves to a group who exercised for two 20-minute sessions four times a week. The research study went on for 16 weeks, with the participants exercising at 75% of their maximum heart rate on at least two activities, such as riding a stationary bicycle, walking, or exercising on a treadmill. Researchers say the participants who exercised reported that their sleep quality improved, raising their diagnosis from poor to good sleeper. They also reported fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less sleepiness in the daytime. You shouldn’t need too much more convincing after reading that – although exercise can seem like a huge effort, if you are having sleeping issues, it can make the world of difference.
After months of sleep-less nights, I scrolled through page after page about “The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise,” also called “The Relaxing Breath,” which promotes better sleep. This is based on pranayama, an ancient Indian practice that means “regulation of breath.” The exercise is described by Weil as “a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system” that eases the body into a state of calmness and relaxation. I initially didn’t think much of it and thought it was just another craze. But then I finally gave up and decided that anything is better than lying awake for hours on end:
Follow the 5 step procedure:
1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
5. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
I have now done this on many occasions and it has worked every time. For me, it assists with calming my mind so that I’m just focusing on my breathing and not what’s really bothering me. Weil’s 4-7-8 exercise may not work for everyone and it does take practice. Ideally you should be practicing this twice a day over two months to perfect the technique until you can truly fall asleep in a minute. But, let me tell you, once you’ve mastered it, it will become more and more effective and make the world of difference.
These 6 simple sleep solutions will assist you in the sleep you need and deserve. From tonight, evaluate why you think you are not sleeping, establish a routine, look at possibly changing what you are eating before bed or perhaps try and include sleep boosting foods. Then, make sure you are getting some exercise during the day, regardless of what it is – it all helps. If you use these solutions, you will leave behind the tired, irritable version of yourself and say ‘hello’ to the refreshed, energized you!