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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

          Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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          Last Updated on July 10, 2020

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

          We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

          So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

          Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

          What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

          Boundaries are limits

          —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

          Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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          Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

          Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

          Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

          How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

          Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

          1. Self-Awareness Comes First

          Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

          You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

          To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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          You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

          • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
          • When do you feel disrespected?
          • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
          • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
          • When do you want to be alone?
          • How much space do you need?

          You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

          2. Clear Communication Is Essential

          Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

          Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

          3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

          Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

          That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

          Sample language:

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          • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
          • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
          • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
          • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
          • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
          • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
          • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

          Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

          4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

          Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

          Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

          Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

          We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

          It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

          It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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          Final Thoughts

          Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

          Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

          Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

          The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

          Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

          Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

          They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

          Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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