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13 Things You Can Do To Help Yourself Fall Asleep

13 Things You Can Do To Help Yourself Fall Asleep

If you are having trouble falling asleep at night, it is could be due to lifestyle habits interfering with your sleep patterns. Here are 13 suggestions that you can easily put into practice. Once you find what works for you, you won’t have to take sleep aids or see a sleep specialist.

1. Always go to bed and wake up at the same time

Everybody knows about jet lag. Traveling across time zones upsets your body clock and sleep patterns get skewed. But when you go to bed at irregular hours and sleep late, you are also upsetting your sleep-wake cycle, albeit to a much lesser extent. Make sure you go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. Avoid oversleeping when tired or because of a late night.

2. Time to get a new mattress

Most people never bother to change their mattresses very often. The result is that physical discomfort negatively impacts your sleep. Did you know that the average life expectancy for a mattress is only eight years? Choosing a new mattress can be tricky, as its comfort is very hard to judge in the shop. Ideally, one should lie on a new mattress for at least 10 minutes to get a true feeling for how it feels.

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3. Build in winding down time

Getting ready for bed means making sure there is a gradual transition from daytime frenetic activity to restful repose. Taking a warm bath helps you to relax. Some people do stretching. Switch off all electronic devices and turn down the lighting. Make reading a regular habit so that the body learns that sleep time is approaching. Some people like to use an audio podcast with music as this will not disturb their partners or other family members.

4. Ban electronics from the bedroom

If you use any electronic devices in the bedroom, you are asking for trouble. The blue light from screens tends to trick your brain into thinking that it is daylight again and this light tends to block the supply of melatonin, which induces sleep. The other problem is that once your brain starts to suffer from an information overload, it is going to go into overdrive. Some people insist on checking emails on their mobile devices while they lie in bed. A Nytol survey showed that 50% of Brits were addicted to checking their social media accounts and emails in bed.

5. Take some magnesium

Most people with sleep disturbances are suffering from a magnesium deficiency and they are not even aware of it! Typical symptoms are cold hands and feet, and excruciating leg cramps in the early morning. Magnesium is one of the essential minerals that help the Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) receptors function. These block the glutamate and norepinephrine receptors which stimulate the brain so GABA may help the brain shut down. The recommended dose is between 400 and 500 milligrams (mg) before bed.

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6. Mental activities will help

When you cannot get to sleep, your mind may wander to thoughts of your insomnia, the causes and consequences, and how tired you will be in the morning. Start thinking about things which have absolutely nothing to do with your insomnia. Some of the following may work for you:

  • Do simple math, like counting backwards from 100.
  • Try going through the alphabet, thinking of a person’s name for each of the letters.
  • Visualize yourself in a beautiful, calm setting and picture yourself as you drift off.

7. Cut out stimulants before bed.

Most people have problems because of tea and coffee intake before bedtime. Alcohol can help you to get to sleep initially but you will be restless for the second half of the night. British researchers in one study published in the Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research journal, found that alcohol upsets the thalamus area of the brain, which leads to disturbed sleep patterns. Cut out caffeine and alcohol well before evening to help yourself fall asleep faster.

8. Drink these before going to bed

One ideal nightcap is warm, skimmed milk because it has calcium and tryptophan, which can be converted into serotonin which helps you to feel drowsy. Another option is cocoa or hot chocolate, which help to produce phenethylamine. That can put you in a good mood. But chocolate has caffeine in it and some people find that it keeps them awake, so try what suits you best.  Instant malt drinks can also help, although they tend to be high in fat.

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9. Get enough daylight

Strange as it seems, you need to get enough daylight. One hour (or even 30 minutes) of natural sunlight will keep your wake-sleep cycle perfectly tuned. This really helps and it is just as important as turning down the lights an hour before bedtime.

10. Relax

One of the reasons you cannot get off to sleep is that fact you are too tense. This may be due to overwork, stress, or simply tensing up because you cannot sleep. Try relaxing every muscle group in your body. Start from the head and work down. As you do this, you will be astonished at how tense you were!

11. Exercise is great but..

Doing sports or any physical activity is great because it will make you tired. It will also get the endorphins going, which will put you in a good mood. It usually takes about four months for results to start kicking in.  The only thing you have to remember is that you cannot exercise too late in the evening, as it can to have the opposite effect of overstimulating you.

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12. Sex is good

Laura Berman, the director of the Berman Center for Women’s Sexual Health, says that people are getting less sleep and not having enough sex. Sex helps you sleep, as it releases oxytocin and endorphins. It also causes other hormonal changes which aid restful and deep sleep.

13. Make a list

Lots of people go to bed and already start worrying about the next day. They have a ton of things to do and they start fretting about everything, which leads to restlessness and poor sleep. A great idea is to make a list of all the things you need to take care of the next day before you go to bed. Writing them down gives you a sense of control and will help you to relax.

Now that you know where the problems lie, why not bookmark this page and start your plan of action. Sweet dreams!

Featured photo credit: dreaming of coffeedog/ Gregg O’Connell via via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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