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9 Science-Backed Tricks That Help People With Insomnia Fall Asleep Faster

9 Science-Backed Tricks That Help People With Insomnia Fall Asleep Faster

Can’t sleep? You’re not alone. Thirty to 40 percent of adults in America experience insomnia—the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or sleep enough to feel rested—each year.

Insomnia can be the result of an illness or mental condition (such as stress, depression, or chronic pain), or it can stem from circumstantial factors like relationship conflicts, busy schedules, shift work, or bedtime routines that don’t promote sleep.

Regardless of its cause, insomnia can be treated. Ready to feel rested again? Try putting any or all of these science-backed tips to the test.

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1. Make the bed a “sleep only” zone

Leave bill paying, work, and Instagramming out of the bed (Better yet? Leave them out of the bedroom entirely). Performing non-sleep-related tasks in bed can cause your brain to associate the bedroom with activity rather than restfulness. Declare the mattress a space for sleep or sex only—no exceptions. Eventually, your brain will learn to associate the bed with sleep and respond accordingly.

Maintain this association by getting out of bed anytime you wake up and aren’t able to fall back asleep within about 15 minutes. Leave the bedroom and spend a few minutes performing an activity that engages both your hands and brain, like working on a jigsaw puzzle. Head back to bed only when your mind has calmed down. That way, your brain won’t learn to think of the bed as a place for lying awake with anxious thoughts.

2. Dim the lights

One study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that exposure to electrical lights during the hours between dusk and bedtime suppresses melatonin levels and makes it harder to sleep well once you’re in bed. As the sun goes down, dim the lights inside to decrease exposure to artificial lighting.

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Also invest in “soft/warm” light bulbs to further prevent lights from having a harsh effect on your circadian rhythms. And prevent street lights from messing with your nervous system by hanging black-out curtains on bedroom windows—studies consistently find that people sleep better in darkened rooms.

3. Skip the nightcap

Drinking alcohol before bed makes it harder to fall asleep, decreases the quality of sleep once you actually nod off, and increases the chances that you’ll wake up earlier than needed. Aim to avoid alcohol after 6 pm.

4. Dunk your face in cold water

It may sound unappealing, but plunging your face into a bowl of ice-cold water for 30 seconds can trigger a reaction called the Mammalian Dive Reflex, which can lower blood pressure and heart rate. This in turn helps the body calm down and be more receptive to sleep.

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5. Perform leg exercises

This one may seem counter intuitive—after all, conventional wisdom says we shouldn’t raise our heart rate right before bed. But according to well-known doctor Lissa Rankin, performing a few squats or leg lifts before hopping into bed can divert blood flow toward the legs and away from the brain. The result is a quieter mind that’s more able to drift off to sleep.

6. Ditch the screens

Sorry, Daily Show fans—watching TV or looking at screens in bed exposes us to “blue” (i.e. artificial) light that stimulates daytime hormones, thereby disrupting the body’s ability to fall asleep. One large study published in the journal Sleep analysed responses from 21,475 participants and determined that exposure to screens before bed is consistently linked to getting less sleep. Turn off all TVs, phones, and computers at least an hour before bedtime, and keep screens out of the bedroom.

7. Keep it cool

Just as light can affect our sleep, so can temperature. Research consistently finds that cooler bedrooms promote better sleep. Harvard docs recommend setting the thermostat to between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum rest. Experiment with different temperatures to find what works best for you.

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8. Don’t stare at the clock

Obsessively checking the time while struggling to fall asleep increases your stress, which then makes it even harder to go to sleep. Prevent this negative feedback loop by keeping the clock pointed away from the bed (and out of arm’s reach).

9. Try reverse psychology

One small study of 34 insomniacs published in Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy found that attempting to keep yourself awake can actually be an effective antidote for insomnia because it reduces the anxieties that can come with struggling to fall asleep. To try it, simply lie in bed with your eyes open and concentrate on staying awake.

Insomnia can be beyond frustrating, but getting flustered will only make the issue worse. Instead, take the time to calmly experiment with these different strategies to find what works best for you. Whatever you settle on is guaranteed to be more effective than counting sheep.

Featured photo credit: Alyssa L. Miller via flickr.com

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Kenny Kline

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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