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Day 7: Science-Backed Ways To Beat The Stress Hormone In Your Body

Day 7: Science-Backed Ways To Beat The Stress Hormone In Your Body

So, have you tried to sleep with a weighted blanket to relieve your insomnia and stress? Please do so, it really is for the best of you!

I’m here to accompany you through this challenging journey!

Let’s look at what you SHOULD do this time.

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Why it is important to take care of the stress hormone

Cortisol, or as it is widely known the “stress hormone”, is a hormone produced by the adrenaline gland and it influences our immune responses, blood sugar levels, metabolism, and blood pressure as the part of the natural defense mechanism that gives us the energy to either fight or flight in stressful situations.

In today’s hectic world, we are dealing more with emotional stress rather than physical dangers, and our body can’t tell the difference so it tells cortisol to do its job. Before we manage to relax and lower cortisol levels, we find ourselves in yet another stressful situation and cortisol kicks in again, thus the cycle continues.

Having constantly high cortisol levels can deprive us of sleep, lead to chronic fatigue, weight gain, impair our natural ability to fight against diseases, and cause various digestive problems. According to these statistics, 77% of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress[1]. Luckily, there are simple techniques you can apply to reduce cortisol levels and feel better.

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1. Listening to soothing music reduces cortisol levels by 66%

Music can evoke positive emotions and brighten our day, and you can use it as a part of your stress-relief therapy. According to one study, exploring effects of instrumental music during a surgery procedure has been proven that music really helps in reducing cortisol levels during such stressful situations[2].

So, whenever you feel like you are going to hit the roof and stress out, play some music that relaxes you. Make your I’m-not-going-to-stress-out playlist and unwind. Find which music has the most soothing effect on you, preferably instrumental music, such as classical music or sounds of nature.

2. It’s tea time! Reduce cortisol by 47% with a cup of black tea

Having a cup of tea is not just a chance to take a break and gossip with your friends. Researchers from the University College London conducted an experiment on 75 volunteers where one group was given 4 cups of black tea every day, while the other group was drinking a placebo over a period of six weeks[3]. Both groups were exposed to stressful tasks, and while they recorded similar increase in cortisol levels, those who drank black tea had 47% lower cortisol levels 50 minutes after completing the tasks, while in the placebo group, cortisol dropped just 27%.

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Pick your favorite time of the day when you can be on your own, and make yourself a cup of black tea and enjoy the silence. Make this your daily habit.

3. Going to bed early or taking a nap reduces cortisol by 50%

The benefits of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated – it goes a long way in improving the quality of your life. Moreover, it is vital to get enough hours of sleep – the study conducted by the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Germany showed that the helicopter pilots who slept 6 instead of the recommended 8 hours, had an increase of 50-80% in cortisol levels[4].

Don’t stay up late browsing through funny YouTube clips and wake up tired and stressed out – organize your day so that you could get 8 hours of sleep. However, if for some reason you didn’t manage to get enough sleep, take a nap – it can bring your cortisol levels down as well[5].

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4. Fight stress with food

Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids helps you regulate cortisol levels[6], so include fish such as wild salmon, sardines or anchovies in your diet. In addition to fish, foods such as spinach, citrus fruits, and dark chocolate can help you fight the negative influence of cortisol.

Recommended recipe

Wow! You’ve got your Phase 2 completed, it’s awesome you’ve made so far! Now you know how to sleep and how to control your stress to get a strong digestive system.

So what else you should do besides learning ways to control your stress? Ta-dah… it’s all about how to your brainpower!

Reference

More by this author

Ricky Tang

Editor. Movie Lover. Amateur Singer.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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