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Published on July 16, 2018

Have Trouble Sleeping? 7 Proven Ways to Get More Rest

Have Trouble Sleeping? 7 Proven Ways to Get More Rest

Laying there, you watch the alarm clock change numbers more times than you’ve changed decisions on dinner.

You know you have to get some sleep because otherwise tomorrow is going to be a wreck. You plead with your body, begging it to enter a deep slumber for your own sanity. Of course that isn’t exactly working. But hey, you’ll try anything… you’re not above the begging.

Going to bed feeling “wide awake” is a common issue that many people struggle with, and one that isn’t easy to solve. There are multiple factors involved in your quest to fall asleep quickly and stay in a state of rest throughout the night.

There’s one thing we can all agree on, though – it’s an awful predicament.

Lucky you, there are ways we can combat this feeling and get to bed feeling relatively tired before we even lie down. I’ll show you several ways you can get to bed feeling just a bit more ready to accept an awesome night’s sleep:

1. Put the phone and laptop away at least an hour before bed

I’ll start with the no-brainer but the one that people continually struggle with the most.

Yes, we know we need to shed ourselves of those things called “technology”; you know, the phones, the laptops, the computers, the TVs, the tablets, the phablets (a phone the size of a tablet), and the list goes on and on and on. We’re connected to them all day, and if we had the choice, we’d be connected to them all night.

We’re hooked; consumer electronics barely leave our fingertips, and they have the pleasure of being our eyes’ object of affection for most of the day. Sometimes, I wonder what our phones or computer would say to us if it knew how much we stare at them.

I’m glad they don’t talk. Well, I take that back since some already do on command. I’m just glad they don’t give us their unwarranted opinions.

The least you can do is give each other a little space when the sun goes down. A little time away from each other never hurt anybody. Not a lot of time, just a few hours.

The easiest way is to have the charger in another room (the room that you don’t spend evenings in) and when it’s time to wind down for the evening, plug it in and walk away. And then eventually go to bed, blissfully knowing your email or social media will be just fine.

Try the whole I’ll give you a couple hours space; it works for relationships too.

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2. Immerse yourself in some reading before bed

We all could use a little more reading.

I’d wager that a lot of us at some point or another put it as a goal. Yet we fall short just about every time.

Instead, we pick up that phone, open that laptop, or turn on that TV for a little more instant gratification. Oy, reading takes so much effort.

Well, since you’ll be putting your phone and laptop away a little bit earlier than usual, why not fill the void with some light reading?

Any kind of book will do, or even a magazine if so inclined. The idea is to actually read words on paper, not on an LCD or LED screen.

Feeling a little out of your comfort zone? That’s ok, I know it may seem like a foreign activity, but you’ll find that the peacefulness and relaxing nature of reading a book can do wonders for your sleep pattern.

Plus, your eyes will thank you.

3. Engage in a calm or soothing habit

Hobbies is a word that has become increasingly rare in today’s generation. I’m beginning to think people are forgetting the definition of the word.

Put together, most of us spend well over an hour a day on social media, valuable time that could be used towards a hobby.

No, watching movies, hanging with friends, or going to the gym doesn’t count.

Instead, look to pick up some actual hobbies, and more specifically, soothing ones.

What exactly does soothing mean? Generally, it’s anything that allows you to relax while doing it. That means it doesn’t cause stress and doesn’t force you to be hyper-aware or exert any kind of physical activity. Things such as knitting, painting, and reading (ring a bell?) all work well.

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Do a little research on potential hobbies you could pick up that help you relax.

Allowing your brain to focus on the task at hand and “disconnect” from real world problems, even temporarily, can help reset and lower your anxiety and stress, all factors that affect your sleep.

4. Eat a healthy diet, and stay satiated at night

Eating healthy goes beyond just feeling good, it actually helps you sleep much better too.

There is a myth that eating before bed is a bad thing; in fact, the opposite could hold true. Eating the right foods at night can help stave off those all too familiar hunger pangs, and give your body the right fuel it needs to rebuild itself while you sleep.

The trick, of course, is eating the right foods – anything super salty, fatty, or sugary won’t do you very much good. You’ll just end up feeling uncomfortable, which affects your ability to fall asleep.

Instead, aim for things such as complex carbs, fruit, or non-starchy vegetables. Check out the best foods to help you sleep better.

And most importantly, don’t go to bed hungry – listen to your body.

Throughout the day, make sure you feed it the right things too – a bad diet is a huge step backwards in a lot of areas, including your sleep cycles. A healthy, nutritious, balanced diet ensures your body is working optimally.

The last trick is to avoid eating right before bed; as in don’t graze your way through the fridge and then throw yourself under your covers and turn out the lights.

Give it a little bit of time, preferably at least an hour before bed. But if you last ate six hours ago…give yourself some fuel.

5. Pick up meditation

Even though the most convenient (and thus easiest) time to meditate is in the morning, you’ll soon find out that this science-backed activity can benefit you more than 16 hours later as you’re trying to fall asleep.

If you need some convincing to start, here’s what meditation can do for you health wise:

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  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase immune health
  • Increase focus
  • Shrinks the brain’s amygdala (the part that deals with fear and emotion)[1]

Meditation can also offer the following overall benefits:

  • Increase self-awareness
  • Induce relaxation
  • Increase happiness
  • Increase self-acceptance

And the list goes on and on.

Confused where to start?

Spend five minutes sitting still in the morning before you begin your day, and even do the same at night before bed.

Find a meditation app that can guide you if you find yourself having trouble sitting still and relaxing. Or do a simple Google search to find hundreds of guides on different types of meditation.

Or simply check out this guide: The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

6. Get involved in exercise

Exercise has also proven itself extremely beneficial, and with probably thousands of studies done (don’t quote me on that but I’d argue it’s possible) that show its true benefits, you would be hard pressed to ignore it in today’s modern age.

All in, exercise can help with the following:[2]

  • Control your weight
  • Control your hormones
  • Reduce your risk for diseases (such as heart disease) and cancers
  • Improve your mental mood
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your sexual health

Regular exercise also helps improve your sleep, by allowing you to enter a deeper sleep sooner, and for longer.[3]

Deep sleep, known as REM, is our most restorative sleep we can achieve. The more time you spend in deep sleep, the more you can boost your immune system, improve cardiovascular health, and control stress/anxiety.

Not to mention, physical exercise takes effort in the form of expended energy. The more energy you expend, the more tired you get eventually. By expending all this energy, you’ll feel tired sooner in the evenings, allowing you to fall asleep much faster.

Where to start? Get moving! Join a local gym for some intro classes, do some simple bodyweight workouts at home. Again, Google is your best friend here. The options are overwhelmingly unlimited.

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Try these 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

Keep this is mind: there is no one right way. Start something, and tweak at will.

7. Keep a consistent schedule

Consistency in your sleep patterns come as a result of keeping a regular routine.

The easiest way to get knocked off schedule is by constantly shifting your bed time or what you do in the few hours before bed.

By having a fairly standard routine in place, you begin to trick your brain into knowing that bed time is coming simply by initiating certain activities.

The same phenomenon explains why trying to read in bed (if you never do) makes you fall asleep quickly. If all you ever do in bed is sleep, then your brain assumes that lying in bed means it’s time to sleep, right?

If one day you decide to try to read in bed, you might find yourself waking up an hour later. Why is that?

Your brain thought it was time to sleep. So it initiated its sequence to make that happen. It didn’t know what reading in bed meant, and so it did what it knows best – sleep.

This is exactly why you should make sure to keep your bed reserved for two activities only – sleep and sex. Otherwise, you risk having your brain adapt to the idea that your bed doesn’t always mean it’s time to sleep.

The bottom line

If you find that your sleep schedule is inconsistent, you have trouble falling asleep and you wake up feeling about as sluggish as your hungover Sunday mornings in college, it might be time to reassess all the things you do in your waking hours.

Putting technology away, reading, finding soothing hobbies, eating healthy, meditating, exercising and keeping a consistent schedule will all help you achieve better sleep.

But it’s up to you to actually implement them. What will you do to wake up feeling refreshed?

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Adam Bergen

Adam Bergen is the founder of Monday Views, a movement dedicated to showing that with focus and self-discipline, your potential is limitless.

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

“Why am I so tired?” is a question that people ask themselves pretty frequently. Everyone gets tired at one point or another, particularly after something like an illness, a long night up with a sick child, or a busy week at work. When tiredness is persistent, however — when you feel tired as soon as you wake up in morning or when sleep doesn’t seem to help, no matter how much rest you get— it may often indicate a deeper, underlying problem.

While there are a lot of possible reasons for tiredness, here’re some of the most common causes of fatigue:

1. Dehydration

If you want to boost your energy levels, first check whether you are dehydrated. The human brain is 85% water, and needs to maintain this level in order to perform its essential functions.

If you fail to drink enough water, the brain extracts fluids from your blood to compensate for the deficit. As a result, the oxygen levels in your blood drop, reducing the amount of energising oxygen available to your organs and tissues. Fatigue and sleepiness set in rapidly, leaving you more vulnerable to the 2 pm post-lunch crash that many of us experience.

You cannot cure this crash with caffeine – the only long-term, effective solution is to drink hydrating fluids throughout the day.

2. Lack Of Exercise

A workout will surely leave you feeling even more tired, right? Wrong! As counterintuitive as it may sound, physical activities have an energizing effect. Moving your body releases endorphins, increases your heart rate, and boosts your concentration.

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Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of medium-intensity exercise every day. It’s easiest if you can make this part of our everyday routine, either as soon as you wake up or right after work.

3. A Poor Diet

The food you eat has a direct impact on sleep quality and the amount of rest you get every night. For maximum energy, stick to protein, slow-release carbohydrates, and a moderate amount of healthy (unsaturated) fats. The majority of your food should be plant-based, high in fiber, and low in sugar. These choices will prevent blood sugar fluctuations, which can leave you feeling exhausted.

An easy way to make sure you stick to a good diet is through meal preparation. It’s easy to just get take-out when you’re tired after work, but if you have a meal ready for you in the fridge, you’ll be less tempted by pizza or cheese.

Find out more about healthy meal prep here: 10 Meal Planning Apps You Need To Have To Get Healthier Easily

4. Skipping Breakfast

Physician Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan advises that eating breakfast is key to maintaining a good level of energy throughout the day. When you eat breakfast, you are sending calming signals to the areas of the brain responsible for avoiding danger, along with those that instruct the body to conserve as much energy as possible.

Ingesting food signals to your brain that there is enough food available to ensure our survival. This encourages it to stay relaxed, which in turn, promotes restful sleep.

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Some great ideas for a healthy, filling, and make-ahead breakfasts include overnight oats, smoothies, and freezer-friendly breakfast burritos.

Or if meal-prepping isn’t your think, stock up on easy but healthy breakfast foods like multigrain cereal, yogurt, and fruit: 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

5. Poor Quality Of Sleep

We all know that it’s important to wind down a couple of hours before bed. But did you know that it’s what you do throughout the day that promotes good-quality sleep? It’s not just about the number of hours you sleep, but how restful and deep that sleep is.

TO feel rested, try to regulate your everyday routine to make your sleep deeper and better. Get up at a regular time in the morning to ensure that you get regular sunlight.

Eat nutritious foods in moderate amounts, and make sure you stay hydrated. Go to bed at the same time. And before bedtime, avoid screens that can give off harmful blue light and also keep you stimulated when you need to prepare for a restful night.

Read more about how to develop a routine that will get you better sleep: Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

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6. Sleep Apnea (A Person’s Airways Get Blocked off While They Are Asleep)

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where a person’s airways get blocked off while they are asleep, causing their oxygen levels to drop while they are asleep. This often causes people to stop breathing at night and then to jerk themselves awake (this can happen over 30 times an hour).

Because of this, people with sleep apnea can feel short of breath and have low energy levels. Mouthpieces and other devices to aid in breathing as well as the use of a special breathing machine to keep oxygen levels in a safe zone.

If you feel tired all the time and think you might have sleep apnea, consulting with a doctor is important. Do a sleep study, as this can often reveal if there is an underlying problem causing your tiredness — and once a diagnosis is made, treatment to help you get your energy back begins.

7. Depression

Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States (and in many other countries of the world as well). It is marked by persistent feelings of sadness or unhappiness but has physical symptoms, too. Apart from fatigue, people may also experience changes in sleeping and eating habits and difficulty concentrating.

Treatment can often center on anti-depressants, counselling and lifestyle changes like stress management to help manage this condition. You can take a look at these 15 Ways To Overcome Depression And Sadness.

Many people also benefit from activities like yoga and meditation, which help regulate both the body and mind.

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8. Hypothyroidism

If a person has hypothyroidism, their thyroid gland does not produce adequate levels of these important hormones— and the result can be a persistent and unrelenting fatigue, even if someone is getting enough sleep. Other common symptoms of this disorder include mood swings, weight gain and feeling cold all the time.

Fortunately, simple blood work can reveal if there is a problem and it can be treated with artificial thyroid hormone pills like Synthroid. Check here for signs of having a thyroid problem. If you suspect that you might have hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor.

9. Anemia

People with anemia are not able to make enough red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the their bodies. This is often due to a lack of nutrients like iron or B-12 and can be caused by problems such as heavy periods, bleeding in the digestive tract or pregnancy (due to the increased demands of the growing baby).

However, in most cases, this can be resolved with treatments like changes in diet, iron supplements or B-12 shots.

While here are some drinks you can try to relieve symptoms of Anemia, it’s best to do a blood test and consult your doctor in case of any hidden medical conditions.

10. Cancer

While you shouldn’t be freaking out about cancer just because you are tired, it is a fact that fatigue is one of the symptoms of cancer. Other common symptoms can include unexplained weight loss and the presence of palpable lumps or growths. This disease is marked by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells that can do damage to surround tissues and possibly spread to other parts of the body.

Diagnosis is usually by biopsy and treatment often focusses on radiation, chemotherapy or surgery— and generally when a diagnosis is made early, the outcomes for the patient are better.

Featured photo credit: Lily Banse via unsplash.com

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