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No More Insomnia! Get A Good Night’s Sleep With These 5 Unconventional Tips

No More Insomnia! Get A Good Night’s Sleep With These 5 Unconventional Tips

Have problems falling asleep or sleeping through the night? You are not alone. 30 to 35% of people suffer from bouts of insomnia[1]. That’s a whole lot of people tossing and turning through the night. That’s 3/10ths of the population fighting mental fog and fatigue during their waking hours. Lack of sleep contributes to an array of health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. While you may be tempted to reach for a pill to drop you into a deep sleep, try these 5 unconventional tips first, and you may be able to trick your body into a restful slumber.

1. Immerse your face in cold water

Just when you thought splashing cold water on your face would wake you up, it actually can put you to sleep! Known as the Mammalian Reflex or Response[2], immersing your face in cold water for 30 seconds will lower your heart rate and narrow your blood vessels, causing reduced blood flow to the limbs and reserving more for the brain and heart. It basically signals your body into a relaxed hibernation mode. The colder the water, the faster the heart rate will slow. Brrrr.

2. Breathe using the 4-7-8 method

The 4-7-8 breathing method[3] by Dr. Andrew Weil, a supporter of holistic and integrative medicine, encourages you to focus on your breath and relaxes you, much like meditation. It is based on Pranayama Yoga breathing techniques, and it’s easy to learn. Dr. Weil suggests sitting up straight and holding your tongue against the roof of your mouth, behind your teeth, while practicing it.

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The steps of the 4-7-8 method are:

  1. Inhale through your nose for a 4-second count.
  2. Hold that breath for 7 seconds.
  3. Then, exhale your breath slowly for an 8-second count.
  4. Repeat these steps 2-4 times.

This calming breath technique will have you snoozing in no time at all. Dr. Weil suggests practicing this technique before bedtime for 4-6 weeks to experience its full benefits.

3. Skip that hot shower

You may think that nice hot shower will help you sleep, but exposing yourself to a rise in body temperature disrupts your body’s natural ability to produce melatonin[4]. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is made by the pineal gland in your brain. It regulates your body’s internal clock. Two hours before your regular bedtime, the melatonin levels in your body rise to aid your body in shutting down for the night. Bright lights and warm temperatures can disrupt your natural melatonin production.

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Aim to have that hot shower at least two hours before you plan to hit the sack, giving your body ample time to cool down. An alternative suggestion would be to blast yourself with cold water at the end of your hot shower for that Mammalian Dive Reflex, if you think you can take it.

Other ways to boost your natural melatonin are to get sunshine and exercise during the day and to keep the lights dim and your bedroom cool at night.

4. Write down your thoughts

Journaling right before you go to sleep can ease your fears and anxieties and help you to drift off quicker. Writing about your day’s problems literally gets them off your chest. Writing a nightly gratitude list can help you focus on positive thoughts and make it easier to fall asleep.

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Research shows[5] that people who kept a nightly gratitude journal slept longer and had a better quality of sleep. Now that is something for which to be thankful!

5. Tense and relax your toes

While you don’t want to participate in any rigorous exercise before bed, the simple act of tensing up your toes and relaxing them for a count of up to ten can ease the tension from your body and allow you to fall asleep faster.

You can use this progressive muscle relaxation technique throughout your body. Lay down and close your eyes. Begin at your scalp and slowly work your way down, focusing your attention on each section of your body, from your eyelids to your throat, your shoulders down to your fingers, your chest all the way to your knees, and finally, down to your toes. You will find yourself more relaxed and sleepy.

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Consider using one of these unconventional sleep hacks before you reach for those pills to battle another sleepless night. Changing your habits and thoughts or even taking a cold-water douse may prove to be a better alternative than side-effect ridden drugs for helping you drift off to a peaceful night’s slumber.

Featured photo credit: Workandapix via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Insomnia Awareness Day Facts and Stats
[2] American Psychological Society: The Mammalian Diving Response: An Enigmatic Reflex to Preserve Life?
[3] Dr. Andrew Weil: The Art and Science of Breathing
[4] John Hopkins Medicine: Melatonin: Does It Work?
[5] PubMed NCBI: Gratitude Influences Sleep Through Mechanism of Pre-Sleep Cognitions

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Sally White

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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