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10 Smart Tips To Help You Get A Complete, Peaceful Sleep

10 Smart Tips To Help You Get A Complete, Peaceful Sleep

Do you take hours to fall asleep? Have you ever had a full night’s sleep and felt completely miserable afterwards? My sister has a horrific time sleeping – she rarely does. When she manages to get some shut eye, she sneaks in either 2-4 hours… or 14 hours. It’s bad. Various therapists and sleeping experts couldn’t help. All they wanted to do was prescribe her sleeping meds.

1. The Dangers of LED

Screens (in most cases a smartphone) are the #1 reason why people can’t sleep. Blinded by the blue light in LED screens, our brain shuts down the release of melatonin. Melatonin is known as the “sleep hormone,” which controls our body clock. iPads, phones, TVs, laptops – anything with a screen must be eliminated.

If you’re prone to waking up in the middle of night, grabbing your device and checking social media for a minute or two, you won’t find it a good way to doze back asleep. Resist the urge to grab your smartphone or laptop and assess why you think you woke up in the first place.

2. Nap During The Day

Believe it or not, 20-minute power naps have been shown to drastically increase productivity in the workplace. Even if you’ve had your body’s sleeping allocation for the day, naps increase alertness, creativity and enhances our mood.

3. Stick To A Sleeping Schedule

Adjust your biological clock and help it do what it’s meant to, by going to sleep every night at the same time, if it can be helped. A stable sleeping pattern aligns your bio-clock to recognise when it is time to sleep. This is crucial towards ensuring a full night’s luxurious sleep.

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Sometimes, sleeping schedules go astray. That’s life – things happen. Try your best to get back on track as soon as time permits.

4. Chow Down The Right Foods

Serotonin and melatonin are neurotransmitters that help you sleep. To get those transmitters, your brain needs tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in turkey. Turkey is loaded with tryptophan – which could explain why you feel incredibly sleepy at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Other foods that send you to sweet dreamland are:

  • Eggs
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • Reduced fat mozzarella
  • Pumpkin and squash seeds
  • Chicken breast

(Basically, all muscle-building staple foods that are high in protein.)

5. Maintain Silence

Whether your loved one is snoring away, the neighbours are noisy, your house guests are in the other room chatting away, or your family is blaring the TV, some noises never stop.

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Short of letting everybody in your house know that you’re trying to sleep, consider purchasing quality custom-made earplugs. If those are a no go, have a look for sleep-specific noise-cancelling headphones. Be sure the ‘phones are fit for sleeping in.

6. Exercise Regularly

Regular cardiovascular exercise (running, swimming, burpees, etc.) dramatically improves the quality and duration of your shut-eye time. The body needs only 30 minutes of intense aerobic exercise for our body heat to remain high. It stays high for around 4 hours.

During your body’s cool down period, your brain will be receiving frequent signals that it’s time for sleep. This is made possible through the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone (I’ve talked about melatonin so much because it is that important for a good night’s rest.)

7. Stop Worrying About The Future

Not being able to turn off our minds is a giant problem. They’re a dial that can’t be turned off. I used to worry about things like…

  • What’s going to happen tomorrow
  • Replaying conversations in my head
  • Fretting over goals I hadn’t reached
  • Wondering why am I not where I want to be in life

I’m not alone in experiencing those feelings. These fears hang in the balance of many people’s minds. A way to clear the air and form a response for them is to simply jot them down. You can jot them down in a journal, notebook, stationary pad, etc.

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Writing down every one of your woesome thoughts, by hand, empties the mental clutter so you can have a spiritually nourishing slumber. This steers your mind clear of thinking about them.

Another thing you can do (while we’re on the subject of cleaning) is to shower and brush your teeth. If you feel dirty you’re going to obsess about it – just as you would with your mental “clogs”.

8. Tense Yourself To The Limits

Relax your muscles by tensing them as hard as you possibly can (without straining yourself), holding them for a few moments, and then release the tension. This form of muscle relaxation (which also fights stress), usually accompanied by rhythmic breathing, helps relax the mind as well as your body. Try it tonight while you’re lying on your back. (You aren’t going anywhere, are you?)

9. Thermostat

Most studies demonstrate that room temperatures of between 62 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (17-21 degrees Celsius) seem to work best for sleeping. The reason is that our core body temperature drops at night. In fact, this drop is a signal to the brain to say goodnight. A warm room can inhibit this process.

10. Optimize Your Bedroom

Where you sleep has just as much importance as what you do to prepare for bed. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the bed should be reserved for a deep night’s natural sleeping and love-making. Which is fine – however, how much stock have you put into the rest of your bedroom?

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It’s been well-known that a messy, untidy room piles stress on our psychological well-being. Here are a few ways you can maximise your bedroom’s good vibes for a comfier sleep starting today:

  • Control your internal clock by keeping the room dark (this means NO screens of any kind). The hypothalamus (responsible for your inner clock) releases cortisol when light is detected. As a result, your body temperature raises, and your wakefulness is restored.
  • Clean the clutter: using a closed hamper to keep piles of clothes from your view does a lot for maximising your sleep.
  • Keep pillows full and fresh by replacing them every 1-2 years.
  • Use YouTube for bedroom organisation tips

Consider some of these techniques (or all of them!) when you’re about to hit the hay tonight. Don’t put yourself through another catastrophic sleep by waiting until tomorrow. Stop being miserable in your day-to-day and do something about your sleep habits. Your mind, body and life health (and friends) will thank you for choosing to make a positive difference. It certainly has in my beloved sister’s sleep schedule in no time at all.

Featured photo credit: Wokandapix via pixabay.com

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Maya Levine

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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