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Last Updated on September 8, 2021

Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

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Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

When I was twenty-something, I didn’t really care much about my sleep quality because I could recover very quickly even if I had a bad night’s sleep. Since my first son was born, it became a totally different story. Partly because I’m older now, partly because I’ve had many more responsibilities. I could no longer work as productively as I could before if I didn’t sleep well the previous night.

Video Summary

To make sure I slept well at night, I started to pay attention to everything I did throughout the day.  And unlike what most people advise us, it’s not just a good bedtime routine that helps, it’s about everything we do – from the moment we wake up in the morning to going to bed at night.

    Morning (7am – 12pm)

      Wake up at the Same Time Every Day to Build Patterns

      That means even weekends and days off. Why? Because our bodies are intelligently rhythmic and thrives on consistency. By waking up at the same time, we regulate the circadian rhythm that co-ordinates hormones and metabolism connected to sleep and wakefulness. Our bodies prepare to wake up around 1-2 hours before doing so, so making sure we wake up at a consistent time will be much easier and less stressful on these important rhythms.

      Making sure you wake up (and actually get up) at the same time every day will help you get a better night’s sleep later on as you build a gradual, strong desire for sleep during your waking hours. Try consistently for 1 to 2 weeks to allow your body to create the perfect rhythm.

      Eat Breakfast First Thing to Calm Your Brain

      Fuelling yourself for the start of your day is common wisdom but did you know that it can also positively affect your sleep cycle? It’s all down to our evolution.

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      Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan believes eating first thing in the morning actually calms parts of the brain that are linked to our caveman behaviour of preserving energy and avoiding predators [1]. In other words, by eating first thing, we’re reassuring the brain that there is a good supply of food causing it to remain in a relaxed state ready for sleep, which in our modern day case, is at the end of the day.

      Step Away from the Snooze Button. It Confuses Your Brain

      As mentioned above, our sleep patterns need to be consistent and nothing ruins that more than hitting the snooze button.

      In fact, using an alarm altogether may be doing more harm than good. This is because our bodies start to reboot around an hour before we naturally need to wake up. It’s in this phase that adrenaline and cortisol is released allowing us to get into a gradual lighter sleep and prepare for waking. An alarm can jolt our bodies awake too early causing that groggy feeling we often get that takes ages to shake off.

      The snooze button is an illusion. While we think we’re getting a few extra minutes of much-needed sleep, it’s really very bad quality sleep. If you do need to use an alarm, set it for the very last time you need to get up with no leeway for snoozing.

      Afternoon (12pm – 6:00 pm)

        Avoid Napping for More Than 20 Minutes. Otherwise You’ll Enter Deep Sleep

        Napping can be a good way to recharge as long as it’s not for more than 20 minutes. This is because longer naps cause us to start entering a deep sleep which can be harder to wake up from. This is why we can sometimes rise from a nap feeling groggy. Set a timer for 20 minutes so you don’t go over. This way you’ll feel much more refreshed when you wake up.

        If you do need to nap, try to avoid laying your head down later in the day. This is more likely to make it much more difficult to fall asleep at your usual bedtime and will disrupt your sleeping patterns.

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        Protein-Rich and Complex Carbohydrate Foods Make You Less Likely to Nap

        Our diet has a massive effect on our sleep quality but we often don’t consider this when grabbing lunch or snacking throughout the day.

        Protein-rich and complex carbohydrates foods (e.g. wholewheat pasta) take a longer time to be digested and make our blood sugar level increase gradually instead of suddenly compared to simple carbohydrates foods (e.g. cookies). This makes us less likely to become sleepy after lunch.  Taking a nap which can easily affect our sleep cycle, making it harder to sleep at night.

        Get Exposure to Natural Outside Light. It Synchronises Our Master Clock 

        The light we absorb during the day plays quite a big part in our sleep cycles. It synchronises what’s called our master clock which, amongst many things, allows our bodies to enter our sleep cycles efficiently. It’s part of the important circadian rhythm that regulates the body’s daily cycle.

        Aim to get bright outdoor light exposure for 30-60 minutes a day especially around midday.

        No Midday Coffee. It Takes Longer to Wear off Than You Thought

        We might feel we need a pick-me-up half way through the day (although this won’t be necessary once your sleeping patterns are well established) and we can instantly reach for the coffee granules.

        But reaching for that midday cup of coffee can create problems later on. Caffeine has a half-life of 3 to 5 hours meaning it takes this long for just 50% of the caffeine to wear off. The rest can still stay in our bodies for longer. You can see how drinking caffeine even in the middle of the day will cause havoc for sleeping later on. Save your coffee-drinking to mornings only.

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        Don’t Eat Too Little or Too Much. It Makes You Overeat/Undereat at Night

        The amount of food we eat at mealtimes is also conducive to how well we sleep at night. Regulating our eating is crucial if we want a good night’s sleep. Eating too little during the day will more likely cause overeating in the evening close to bedtime. Our bodies don’t have enough time to digest the food meaning a night of tossing and turning.

        Alternatively, if we eat too much for lunch, it’ll be hard to resist taking a nap, which can affect our desire for sleep at night.

        Evening (6:00pm – 12:00am)

          Do Exercise If You Want. It Doesn’t Affect Your Sleep

          While exercise during the day can help towards feeling invigorated, we often think going for a run or anything rigorous in the evening will have us bouncing off the walls when it comes to getting to sleep. After all, our body temperatures and heart rates rise with exercise not to mention adrenaline.

          However, this has actually found to have no effect on our ability to sleep even right before bedtime. Exercising at any time of the day will actually help induce sleep naturally so don’t be afraid to go for that evening run.

          Go to Bed at the Same Time Each Night. You’ll Be More Successful

          Like waking up at the same time, going to sleep at the same time makes for a more efficient sleep cycle. Scientists have even found students who go to bed at a consistent hour each night were more successful and healthy while those with irregular bed times less so [2].

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          Develop Your Own Bedtime Ritual as Your Brain Loves Consistency

          Creating bedtime rituals will help your mind unwind and prepare itself for sleep. Reading and meditating are two great ways to calm the mind before hitting the pillow and in turn creates a perfect entrance into deep, good-quality sleep. Try to stick with these rituals as much as you can since your brain loves consistency.

          Keep Your Alarm Clock out of Sight (but Within Reach) to Avoid Pressure

          Lying in bed and checking the clock can be a massive sleep-killer. If we can’t sleep it can cause anxiety not to mention the artificial light beaming from the LED halting the natural melatonin production needed to send us off to dreamland. Try turning your alarm clock around or if you use your phone, keep it well away from your bed.

          No Gadgets 30 Minutes Before Bed. The Blue Light Will Keep You Awake

          The blue light from smartphones and tablets reek havoc on our brains when it comes to trying to fall asleep. They suppress melatonin and wakes our brain up because it’s busy absorbing information when we check emails or social media.

          It’s important to, not only stop checking our phones around 30 minutes before we go to bed, but to also keep it out of reach. Late night texts, emails and messages can wake us up or our constant urge to check Facebook or Twitter in the middle of the night keeps our brains active so move it away.

          Avoid Hidden Caffeine Sources Like Chocolate and Ice Cream

          Avoiding caffeine before bed is an obvious one, but it might surprise you that a lot of foods secretly contain more of this stimulant than you think.

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          Chocolate, energy drinks, flavoured waters, ice cream and even some pain relievers contain enough caffeine to keep you awake. Make sure you check nutrition labels on the foods you eat around bedtime to make sure they don’t interfere with your shut eye.

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on August 25, 2021

          Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

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          Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

          Immunity truly does encapsulate the entire physiology of a person.

          When you target your immunity by eating a variety of immune boosting foods, then you really can improve your entire body, both physically and mentally.

          The immune system of a human being involves all aspects of one’s physiology and one’s daily experience. Eating certain foods can boost your health in a variety of ways. Below I outline several foods that will get you back on track if you’re feeling under the weather.

          Be sure to stock up on these foods if you’re in need of a boost.

          Immunity Boosting Superfoods

          In order to even broach the topic of foods good for one’s immune system, it’s important to consider all aspects of the human body and experience.

          What I mean by the human experience is one’s day to day mood, energy levels, and many other factors that signify how one engages with themselves and the world around them.

          Before indulging in these foods below, I suggest striving for consistency with diet, activity levels, rest, and incorporating the practice of meditation or spending time in nature as part of your daily routine as well.

          If you’re ready to feel better, not just when you’re under the weather but all the time incorporate these foods in your diet regularly.

          1. Water is a Wise Choice

          Yes I know I’m starting things seemingly simple, but one of my most popular YouTube videos discusses the importance of water!

          When I ask people how much water they drink a day, the majority of time the answer begins with ‘not enough’.

          So if you know you don’t drink enough water, why continue this pattern of behavior?

          Now if you’re one that does hit that 5+ and more (pending activity levels) 8oz glasses a day – good for you! Water is life, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

          2. Eggs: The Most Complete Protein

          Widely regarded as the universally most complete nutritional protein source, eggs are packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and 9 essential amino acids.

          Egg whites are rich in Vitamins D/E/K, B2, B5, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.

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          Meanwhile, egg yolks pack the calories and fats along with cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin.

          It’s important to note that the average medium egg contains 76 calories, 7.5g protein, 5.1g fat, 1.4g sat fat – so consider this while integrating this near perfect super food in your next dish!

          3. Raw Spinach Supports Immunity

          This leafy green is a personal favorite of mine due to its versatility and great taste!

          Spinach is loaded with vitamin C which helps fight cold, flu, and reinforce the immune system.

          It’s also quite high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, which supports our immune system in fighting infection and viruses.

          When enjoying this plentiful plant, do so raw. Its nutrients are best absorbed when the vegetable is raw; consider adding spinach as a fresh salad, rather than to a cooked dish, to reap the most immune system rewards.

          4. Turmerics Benefit on T-Cells

          Gaining popularity for its delicious taste, this powerful spice is also gaining notoriety for its anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin (which also creates the vibrant orange-yellow color).

          A study published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology notes that curcumin activates the production of T-cells, which are of the primary cells fighting on behalf of your systems immunity. [1]

          5. Garlic is Really Good for You

          This popular food not only tastes great but packs quite a punch.

          Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which boasts a variety of medicinal properties. Garlic is also not very calorie dense; 1 ounce yields about 42 calories with 1.8g protein and 9g carbs.

          Garlic also boasts Vitamin C, B6, Fiber, and Manganese.

          The properties mentioned above helps maintain healthy bones, prevent diabetes and epileptic seizures, regulate thyroid, combat osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, improve cognitive function, and regulate glucose metabolism!

          So, forget about garlic breath–eat this food in abundance!

          6. Wild Salmon is Wonderful

          A personal favorite of mine, wild Alaskan salmon is one of those super foods that covers all your nutrient bases!

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          Salmon can be cooked a variety of delicious ways, and yields some of the highest immune system boosting benefits.

          Salmon contains fish oil Omega-3’s, which protect against developing heart disease and heart attack. Oils contained within such fish are quite unique in that they have Omega-3 fatty acids that are not present in any other food.

          Also consider that wild salmon contains (per 4oz) 128% Vitamin D, 95% Vitamin B12, 94% tryptophan, 62% selenium, 53% protein, 53% omega 3’s, 45% Vitamin B3, 37% phosphorus, 32% Vitamin B6, 19% choline, 14% potassium, and 8%(157) calories.

          This is one of those super foods that you could stand to have in your diet several times per week. Beyond the incredible taste, its nutritional benefits make it well worth seeking out.

          7. Essential Extra Virgin Olive Oil

          Many home cooks consider this an essential ingredient in preparing dinner. But it’s also quite good for you!

          Extra virgin olive oil is widely regarded as being a healthy addition to any kitchen, with modest amounts of Vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids.

          Per 100g of olive oil you can expect 14% saturated fat, 73% Monounsaturated fat, 10% Omega-6, 1% Omega-3, 72%, and 75% Vitamin K.

          It also boasts an impressive antioxidant profile. This includes the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.

          8. Natural Greek Yogurt Has Many Benefits

          When I talk about natural Greek yogurt, I mean the type that is not flavored in any way. Those added sugars won’t help boost immunity.

          Many people have convoluted the immunity and health benefits of natural yogurt with the all too popular sugary treats that flood grocery stores. But it’s the plain stuff that’s the best to include in your diet.

          Natural Greek yogurt not only goes great with many dishes, but it contains vast amounts of protein which will leave you feeling satisfied.

          The reason why I’ve specified ‘Greek yogurt’ is because one cup of plain, low-fat conventional yogurt typically has 5 to 10 grams of protein, where Greek yogurt averages about 13 to 20 grams of protein.

          Greek yogurt also contains essential probiotics (live microorganisms). These are bacteria microbes that help improve digestive function, the immune system, and overall gut health.

          Add natural Greek yogurt to your diet, whether as a breakfast food, a substitute for sour cream, or as an addition to a healthy smoothie.

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          9. Ginseng Tea: Chock Full of Ginsenosides

          Ginseng tea’s primary health benefits are due to the naturally occurring chemicals called ginsenosides present in the root.

          One of ginseng’s most widely understood benefits include it’s rich anti-cancer properties. [2]

          Studies also indicate that people who drink ginseng tea have a lower risk of developing cancer.

          Ginseng tea can also help relieve menstrual cramps, lower blood pressure, and improve brain function; and it has also been shown to help with sexual (erectile) dysfunction in men.

          10. Green Tea Fights Aging

          Just as powerful as ginseng tea, this extremely popular tea is rich in polyphenols that have effects like reducing inflammation and aiding in the fight against cancer.

          Green tea is in fact 30% polyphenols, including large amounts of a catechin called EGCG. Catechins are natural antioxidants that aid in the prevention of cell damage and provide several other benefits.

          EGCG, and substances like it can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, helping protect cells and molecules from damage.

          Free radicals such as these are commonly known to play a role in aging and all sorts of other diseases.

          This wonderful also tea contains small quantities of minerals that are important for overall health, so it may be worth picking up some green tea when visiting your next local tea shop.

          11. Dark Chocolate: The Delicious Superfood

          Don’t get too excited with this one – everything in moderation, of course!

          And I’m not just referring to any chocolate — I’m talking specifically about dark chocolate and cacoa nibs, which are both immune system boosting super foods.

          We’ve already covered free radicals in this article, and dark chocolate is one of those wonderful super foods that helps fight against such free radicals.

          It does this with its high antioxidant profile which is believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage.

          Dark chocolate’s antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals – helpful plant compounds. Much like other immune boosting foods on this list dark chocolate will also help balance cholesterol, blood pressure, and improve heart health, and cognitive function.

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          You now have a healthy excuse to eat some dark chocolate; but, go for the lowest sugar and highest cocoa content varieties you can find to reap the most rewards.

          12. Frozen Blueberries for All!

          Personally I love adding frozen blueberries to smoothies; however, sometimes I’ll pop over to the freezer just to grab a small handful as a treat!

          Frozen blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, which come from compounds called anthocyanins; these give blueberries their purple hue.

          One really neat fact about the ice crystals that form when the berries are frozen is that they disrupt the structure of the plant tissue and make anthocyanins even more available – how cool is that? Talk about hacking blueberries!

          Even if not frozen, blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits. They have been known to boost memory, cardiovascular system, and eyesight. The fruit also encourages a process called authophagy, or ‘cell clean-up’.

          Berries in general (raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries) are extremely high on the ORAC scale. This means they contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals.

          Frozen blueberries in particular may aid in defending colds and flu, as they are high in pterostilbene.

          Next time you visit your local grocery store, consider how ideal blueberries are for your immune system and general health.

          13. Raw Honey: A Natural Antioxidant

          Saving the sweetest for last!

          Pure natural raw honey follows the rest of this super food list with its antioxidant profile, however it also contains antibacterial and anti fungal properties.

          Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds, and certain types contain just as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables.

          Raw honey can help the body kill-off unwanted bacteria and fungus as it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong antiseptic. Raw honey also contains phytonutrients, commonly found in plants, which provides both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

          Aside from these wonderful benefits, raw honey can also aid with digestive issues, however this typically varies person to person.

          Indulge in Better Health

          But also, don’t forget to rest! When considering one’s overall health, it’s important to not only incorporate these immune boosting foods, but also to ensure adequate sleep, and take efforts to reduce stress.

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          Eating these immunity boosting foods will enable you to take back control of your health and prevent illness… all while satisfying your cravings!

          Reference

          [1] Journal of Immunology: Curcumin
          [2] NCBI: Ginseng for Fatigue

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