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3 Sleeping Tips To Help You Get A Good Night’s Sleep

3 Sleeping Tips To Help You Get A Good Night’s Sleep

One of the common side effects of living in the twenty-first century is not getting enough sleep. Having a busy schedule, juggling work and family obligations, dealing with a health crisis, and/or coping with emotional disorders like depression or anxiety can be stressful and exhausting. Ironically, when you finally turn out the lights and lay your head on the pillow, you struggle to get a  good night’s sleep.

Everyone experiences insomnia or poor sleep at some point in their lives—before a big test or job interview, for instance. Unfortunately, not being able to get good sleep can turn into a regular pattern, with negative consequences for your health and quality of life.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to maintain optimum physical, mental and psychological health; children and teenagers require more than this. Try these anti-insomnia strategies to improve your sleep.

1. Practice good sleep hygiene

Most of us practice personal hygiene (baths or showers, shaving, and clean hair) and dental hygiene (brushing and flossing) on a daily basis, but we are less used to the concept of sleep hygiene—habits that help regulate our sleeping and waking. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following:

– Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day

Try this for at least a month—even if your schedule is so erratic that it seems impossible. Make your sleep-wake routine a priority.

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– Make your bedroom comfortable and inviting

Your mattress and pillows should feel comfortable. Adjust the temperature, humidity, light and noise levels. For some people, having natural morning light in the room helps maintain a regular waking time.

– Help your mind start winding down

Step away from any emotionally stressful worries or thoughts, and avoid angry or stressful conversations before bedtime. Relaxing yoga exercises can be useful before sleep; save the aerobic exercises for morning or afternoon.

– Avoid stimulants

Most people know that coffee or caffeinated tea will keep you awake, but nicotine is also a stimulant. Alcohol should also be avoided too since it disrupts the body’s natural sleep cycle.

– Eat your last big meal several hours before bedtime

This gives your body time to digest food before you fall asleep.

2. Change your behavior

Good sleep hygiene will help you establish an environment in your bedroom that is most conducive to falling asleep and waking up on a regular schedule. If this is not enough to solve the problem, try these simple behavioral strategies:

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– Only use your bed for sleeping

For many people, the bedroom doubles as an entertainment center. For better sleep, avoid reading, eating, watching TV or using your laptop or iPod while you are in bed. These activities stimulate the brain at a time when you want to relax. This behavior change will help you associate getting into bed with sleeping.

– If you can’t fall asleep, get up for 15 minutes

Tossing and turning and trying to force yourself to sleep can make you anxious and upset—it’s part of the insomniac’s cycle. To help break this cycle, get out of bed and indulge in a relaxing, low-stimulus activity. Read a book. Write in your journal. Close your eyes and do some deep breathing. Stay calm.

– Stop worrying

For some people, turning off the light switch at night turns on their worry switch. Chronic worriers can benefit from cognitive behavior tips. For instance, try scheduling a 20-minute period each day for all your worries. Set a timer if necessary and use those 20 minutes to run through all your worries. Then stop.

Remind yourself that you will be able to run through them again tomorrow. If a persistent worry keeps bothering you, write it down so you can worry about it at the next day’s session.

– Start meditating

You may be having trouble falling asleep because your nervous system is hyper-stimulated. Meditation reduces stress, calms the nervous system and improves sleep quality. There are many kinds of meditation practices, but most utilize a method that refocuses your attention. This focus can be your breathing, a sound or counting sheep.

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One meditative exercise that is helpful for falling asleep is to concentrate on progressively relaxing parts of your body. Lay down comfortably in bed. Starting with your toes, tighten the muscles in your feet; then release. Move up to your calves, then your thighs. As you tighten and release, make sure you breathe deeply and regularly.

3. Use sleep aids

In addition to good sleep hygiene and behavioral changes, you might find the following sleep aids helpful:

– Use a noise machine

The soothing, repetitive sounds of wind blowing or waves moving on a beach help some people relax and fall asleep. Sound generators can also block out distracting background noises like traffic. You can buy noise machines or CDs, or download MP3 selections from the Internet.

– Take herbal teas or supplements

Chamomile, spearmint, valerian, hops and lavender have traditionally been used as sleep aids. There are many teas that use these ingredients. Valerian capsules and melatonin also induce sleep.

Make sure you consult with your physician before adding any supplements to your diet. There are other medications available such as sleeping pills, (but again make sure you speak with your physician before taking them).

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– Have sex

Recent studies show that the hormones released during sex make it easier to fall asleep—so you can add sex to your list of sleep aids.

Getting a good night’s sleep is taken for granted—until you can’t get it. An inadequate amount of sleep has detrimental effects on your mood, health and energy levels. It is possible to get more sleep without using prescription medications.

It may take a while to change your habits and establish a healthier sleep regimen. Be patient and persistent. You will soon start appreciating the benefits of more sleep in all areas of your life.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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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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