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10 Things You Haven’t Tried To Sleep Better

10 Things You Haven’t Tried To Sleep Better

Most of us need to sleep better. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. The World Health Organization has even listed night work as a carcinogen.

Most people need 7–9 hours of sleep each night. When you get enough sleep, your body is able to physically and mentally recover from your day, so that you are able to face tomorrow with vigor and zest.

It’s up to you to do everything in your power to ensure you improve your sleep. Here are my top ten tips for better sleep.

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1. Have a regular sleep and wake cycle.

If you go to bed and get up at the same time every day, you will train your body to have a regular sleep and wake cycle. If you are going to bed at different times and getting up early during the week while sleeping in at the weekend, your body doesn’t know what to do. With a regular sleep/wake cycle, your body will adapt and you will have more energy in the mornings.

2. Exercise regularly.

Regular exercise burns off all your excess energy, meaning you will feel more rested in the evening. Experiment with your exercise times. Some people feel energized after exercise and can’t sleep straight away and some people are OK with exercise before bed. Try exercising in the morning and evening and see what works best for you.

3. Include regular stretching.

If your muscles and joints are sore from either lots of exercise, or not enough exercise, you may feel uncomfortable in bed. Add some stretching or even some light yoga in the evenings before bed time to help loosen your muscles and unwind from the day.

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4. Focus on your breathing.

If you are the type to toss and turn for a long time, try this simple exercise: lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Take a long full breath in and exhale slowly. Feel the air enter and leave your lungs. Repeat 10 times. By the time you get to 5 or 6 you should be feeling very relaxed, and maybe you will even have fallen asleep by then.

5. Accept your worries.

If your worries are keeping you awake at night, remember that it is OK and perfectly normal to have worries and concerns. Accept that this is normal, and it is OK to forget about them while you go to sleep.

6. Write tomorrow’s to-do list tonight.

If you have a long list of worries or things you need to do, don’t wait until tomorrow to take action. Before you go to bed, write a list of your most important tasks to do tomorrow. Once you have gotten these thoughts on paper, and you are mentally prepared for tomorrow, your mind will know it can rest now and you can get some sleep. Keep a pen and paper by your bed if you think of things in the middle of the night.

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7. Reduce caffeine intake.

We all know that we should reduce our caffeine intake in the afternoon so that it doesn’t keep us awake. Unfortunately some of us need to reduce it further or eliminate it altogether. Some people metabolize caffeine quickly. If you are one of these lucky people, then simply stop drinking caffeine after 3pm and it shouldn’t affect your sleep. Other people metabolize caffeine slowly. If you suspect you might be one of those people, try eliminating caffeine completely. Or if you can’t do that, don’t drink it after 10am.

8. Dim your lights.

Bright lights tell our brain that it is day time and we should be awake. When it gets dark outside, then you should also make it darker in your house. Have less lights on in the house, or dim them if you can. This will tell your brain that it is night time and it’s time to wind down and go to sleep soon.

9. Switch off electronic media.

The blue light that emits from televisions, computer screens, tablets and phone screens also tells our brain to stay awake. An hour or two before bed, it’s time to switch off your electronics. Spend this time with your family or read a good book. If you must use your electronics, purchase a blue light screen filter for your gadgets.

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10. Keep your bedroom sacred.

Your bedroom is for two things only: sleep and sex. If you use your laptop in bed, or your phone, or if you watch television in bed, then you are signalling to your brain that bed time is not necessarily sleep time. Train your brain to accept that bed time is for sleep and sex only. This is training your brain to relax in bed, so you will sleep better.

Now you are armed with some of the best tips for getting better sleep. Try one at a time, or try them all at once. Better sleep = Better health.

Featured photo credit: Supermoon 2013 Over NYC / Bob Jagendorf via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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