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

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.

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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.

          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 May 21, 2020

          The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

          The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

          You have probably seen enough fad diets to last a lifetime. Many have become popular overnight and left just as quickly.

          Some fad diets, though, have actually passed the test of time and are making some headway in the nutritional world.

          Outlined below are four fad diets that are actually beneficial for your health and wellness. Read on to find out why you should consider adopting one (or more) of these healthy eating styles today.

          An important concept you should keep in mind is to disregard the term “diet” as it is typically used. The word diet implies the idea of restriction and removal. Instead, think of the word diet in this context as a healthy eating lifestyle.

          Let’s take a look at some of these healthy eating lifestyles that have been categorized, by no fault of their own, as fad diets.

          1. The Paleo Diet

          The paleo diet, or ancestral eating, is simply eating the way your paleolithic ancestors would have up to 10,000 years ago, or when the agriculture age began.

          The advantage now is you don’t have to do this in a loin cloth, unless you want to… The focus of this diet is proteins, vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds and some healthy fats.

          In the paleo diet, there aren’t any grains, starchy carbohydrates, sugars, or dairy.

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          How Your Health Can Change With Paleo

          The paleo diet is a good way to keep your blood sugar under control. It can also have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes, and can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

          With this healthy eating lifestyle, people have also achieved good weight loss results and boast improved energy levels. [1]

          It’s not just what’s in the paleo diet that’s important, it’s what’s NOT in it. There aren’t any processed and manufactured foods, junk foods, artificial ingredients or chemical additives.

          Paleo is a way of eating that gets you more in tune with your body and, therefore, can provide a lot of benefits.

          2. Whole30

          The Whole30 diet is relatively new and owes its popularity to social media and the #Whole30 Instagram hashtag that allowed people to share and broadcast their success with the diet.

          With Whole30 you are taking 30 days and focusing on nutritious whole foods such as meats, nuts and seeds, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruits.

          During the month you are eliminating:

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          • sugar
          • alcohol
          • legumes
          • grains
          • dairy
          • soy

          Whole30 is similar to paleo, but it goes a bit further eliminating sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

          At the end of the 30 days, you strategically reintroduce those eliminated foods back into your diet to discover any possibility of health consequences from them or even potential food allergies.

          Finding Out How Food Impacts You

          Most people eat the same things so often and may not realize that certain foods are causing health consequences, as they’ve become accustomed to feeling lethargic and run down.

          With Whole30 you get the chance to see how these foods may have a negative impact on your body. You’ll also reset your taste buds, which may have become desensitized from processed and artificial “foods” and excess salt.

          This diet will help you regain your love of food… in a healthy way!

          3. The Mediterranean Diet

          The Mediterranean diet has been at the top of the list as a very effective diet for some time now.

          For people in countries like Italy or Greece, this has simply been a normal way of life–along with higher activity levels, sunlight exposure, proximity to water, and lower stress.

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          With the Mediterranean diet, the focus is on heart-healthy foods. It looks like this:

          • Fruits & vegetables
          • Whole grains
          • Legumes & nuts
          • Replacing butter with olive oil
          • Using herbs and spices instead of salt
          • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
          • Moderate amounts of red wine

          Help Your Heart & Overall Health With A Mediterranean Diet

          Information from the Mayo Clinic shows that this diet reduces heart disease and lowers your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Studies involving 1.5 million people demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, along with overall mortality. [2]

          With all these benefits, this is definitely a “fad diet” that’s worth the hype.

          4. The Alkaline Diet

          The alkaline diet is about changing the foods you eat so that you put your body into an alkaline state and out of an acidic state. When your body is too far on the acidic side it can result in a condition called acidosis. This can lead to issues in your body such as upset stomach, breathing difficulties, headaches, weakness and, fatigue. In extreme cases, it can result in shock, coma, or death.

          The goal is to get your body in a more alkaline state, which results in overall better health. The focus is on including alkaline boosting foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. You’re also wanting to reduce acidic foods such as low quality beef and poultry, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol.

          Pros & Cons With The Alkaline Diet

          The benefits that come from this way of eating is that reduction in inferior quality foods, processed items and alcohol. You may feel improved energy levels, mental clarity and even better joint health.

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          People also report weight loss but again this may come from the reduction in calories from junk and processed foods but this is not a bad thing at all.

          One con with this diet is that the pH value of the food you eat might not have an impact on blood pH, as your body is able to balance this pretty well on a day-to-day basis.

          Follow These Fads for Better Health and Wellness

          There can be a danger in categorizing things as a fad diet because fads come and go. People are always looking for the next big thing or a quick fix.

          The four examples above buck that status quo. These diets, though mainstream, actually can give you benefits and aren’t going to go away anytime soon because they work.

          What makes these diets special is that they boast real whole foods and the eliminate processed and manufactured junk.

          The Big Takeaway:

          Whatever way you choose to eat, the focus needs to be on whole unprocessed foods. Look for the cleanest, local and most natural things you can find for the benefit of your overall health and wellness. Your body and mind will thank you.

          Featured photo credit: Dan Gold via unsplash.com

          Reference

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