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15 Effective Ways to Improve Your Sleep Right Now

15 Effective Ways to Improve Your Sleep Right Now

Sleep is one of the most discussed topics of the morning–every morning. Phrases like, “I tossed and turned all night, “I just couldn’t shut down my brain and get to sleep,” or “I woke up at three and couldn’t get back to sleep” are the complaints of millions every day. Somewhere between infancy and adulthood, we lose the ability to get a long restful sleep.

Sleep is elusive, and continued lack of sleep makes you irritable, angry, and prone to rants and rages. There are, however, a few things that you can do during the day to ward off the inability to move into a more restful pattern as you approach the time for sleep. Take a look at these effective strategies on how you can improve your sleep–all based upon research–because incorporating them into your daily routine may solve your problems!

1. Control your caloric intake

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that, in general, the higher a person’s caloric intake, the more likely that person experienced sleep problems. The same study pointed to indicators that intake of healthier fats tended to have a positive impact on sleep.

2. Avoid unhealthy fats

A University of Minnesota study looked at the relationship between “unhealthy” fat intake and sleep. The conclusions were this: unhealthy animal fats reduce the levels of orexin–a brain chemical that regulates sleep habits. Lower levels of orexin result in restless and difficult sleep at night, but also promote unwanted sleep needs during daytime hours. Just leave your favorite pizza snacks for lunch if you want to fall asleep faster.

3. Consume healthy fats instead

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    Healthier food choices seem to be the mantra of every health and fitness expert, author, and all sorts of TV personalities. Forget the hype, and believe in actual research studies that relate to diet and sleep.

    Studies at the Harvard School of Medicine have demonstrated that healthy fats (Omega-3’s, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated oils) improve sleep quality because the change from unhealthy to healthy fats reduces belly fat. Too much belly fat tends to obstruct airways during sleep, and the result is sleep interruptions throughout the night. Healthy fats, such as those contained in vegetable and nut oils or fatty fish (salmon, tuna, and sardines), reduce belly fat and promote better sleep.

    4. Eat more thiamine and magnesium

    Additional studies indicate that thiamine (vitamin B1) and magnesium deficiencies correlate with sleep disorders. A thiamine deficiency causes magnesium deficiency, and therein lays the problem. A University of Maryland Medical Center study recently published its findings on the effects of low magnesium levels in the body, and one of the predominate negative consequences was sleep disorders. Most of us do not get enough magnesium in our diets (good sources are whole grains, nuts and green leafy veggies), so if your diet lacks these, a magnesium and a B1 supplement might be warranted, if you want to reduce sleep issues.

    5. Solve your snoring problems

    Snoring does not just affect your partner. It disrupts your sleep as well. A large number of snorers claim that they even wake themselves up with their own snoring. Simple solutions might involve elevating your head or using breathing strips that are sold over the counter. If snoring continues to be an issue, however, getting a sleeping device may be in order.

    6. Do not toss and turn

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      This situation is usually caused by a lack of comfort. Solutions may include changing out the fiber fill type of your pillows, buying a new mattress, or changing the room temperature. If you continue to toss and turn, however, it is best to just get up and do one of the following: read, listen to quiet music, or try some relaxation techniques.

      7. Get at least 30 minutes of sunlight during the day

      Why? Because this increases your serotonin levels and serotonin produces more melatonin, which is a sleep enhancement. Many psychiatrists now prescribe melatonin supplements for patients with ADD and ADHD, because studies have all shown that it promotes restful sleep. If you cannot get at least 30 minutes of direct sunlight each day, take a melatonin supplement a couple hours before you go to bed.

      8. Exercise

      A University of Oregon Medical School study came to clear conclusions about the relationship between exercise and restful sleep, and it did not seem to matter if those minutes were done in long or short intervals. Thus, someone who took a 30-minute brisk walk fewer times in a week versus someone who took 15-minute brisk walks more times in a week did not make a difference. Both reported better sleep.

      It is important to note that if you pick up the pace of walking that you do on a daily basis, at work, at home, or with your dog, you will see those exercise minutes add up. And housecleaning chores count as well, as long as they are done “briskly.”

      9. Get rid of the blue screen

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        Love reading from your iPad in bed and responding to a few late emails? That may be one of the major reasons why you have troubles sleeping. The blue light from your device’s screen has a shorter wave length and reduces melatonin levels in our bodies, thus making it harder to relax and fall asleep.

        Try installing f.lux–a simple software that makes your device’s display change, based upon the time of day or night, and will reduce the blue light as you move into night-time hours. As it is automatic, you don’t have to remember to activate anything! Another option is to get amber-lensed glasses, which block blue light emissions.

        10. Embrace candlelit dinners

        Evenings should be your prime time for relaxing. Ditch the artificial lights in favor of candles. Not only will it make your dinner insanely romantic, but will let you unwind faster as the candles emit no blue light and watching the tiny flames puts you in a zen-like relaxed state.

        11. Adopt a ritual of bedtime preparation

        It will contribute to good sleep. The ritual gives signals to your body that it is time for rest, and your body and brain will respond better to the transition from activity to rest. Perhaps you watch the news, turn off the TV, take your dog for a short walk, get into your jammies, immerse your face in cold water for 30 seconds (yes, this does help!), brush your teeth, and climb into bed with a book. The routine sends signals to your brain which in turn sends signals to your body that it is time for rest.

        12. Sniff some lavender

        Research conducted at the University of Southampton in England and at Wesleyan University in Connecticut showed that adults who had the scent from lavender oil present as they slept experienced better, more restful sleep. These researchers found that the scent increases “slow-wave” sleep–the deep sleep that slows heart rate and relaxes muscles. Place several drops on a tissue and place it next to your pillow when you retire.

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        13. Write down all your woes and thoughts

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          All of the stressors and unresolved problems of the day creep into the silence of nighttime, and steal needed rest. If you have a “Type A” personality, your days are filled with frenetic activity. If that activity translates into further frenetic brain activity at night, you are in trouble.

          One really effective method of dealing with this is to keep a notepad next to the bed. Sit up and write down the issues that are nagging at you; note possible solutions or things that you will do tomorrow to resolve these issues. Once they are on paper, they tend to be removed from your thoughts and you can sleep better.

          14. Enjoy the white noise

          A lot of people find that a sound machine with rain, oceans waves, etc., will induce the calm that is needed for sleep. Having trouble finding what sounds are your sweet spot for calming down? There’s an app called Relax Melodies that will let you browse through a huge gallery of pleasant sounds and help you mix your own tunes!

          15. Try the cold therapy

          If a full emersion into a cool bath (like 60 degrees cool)–which is considered the most effective long-term strategies for improving sleep and weight loss–doesn’t appeal to you, start with sitting with ice packs on the front and back of your neck for about 30 minutes in the evening.

          Alternatively, you can make a series of dips with your face into a bowl of cold water (50 degrees) and hold it there for as long as you can (up to 30 seconds is more than fine!). This procedure will not only improve your sleeping patterns, but also reduce stress as your body slows its metabolism in order to spare vital organs. In turn, it reduces tension and you stop worrying about all the things that bother you and your mind clears out.

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          Elena Prokopets

          Freelance Writer

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          Last Updated on September 10, 2019

          7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

          7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

          Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

          Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

          This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

          One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

          Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

          Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

          1. Gratitude

          Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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          The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

          Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

          So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

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            2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

            This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

            For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

            What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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            Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

            3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

            This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

            Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

            An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

            Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

            write down goals

              4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

              According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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              There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

              5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

              Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

              Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

              6. Rise Earlier

              The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

              For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

              So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

              Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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              7. Listen to Uplifting Music

              Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

              Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

              It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

              Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

              More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

              Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
              [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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