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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 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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