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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 March 13, 2019

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

          You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

          Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

          1. Work on the small tasks.

          When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

          Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

          2. Take a break from your work desk.

          Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

          Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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          3. Upgrade yourself

          Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

          The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

          4. Talk to a friend.

          Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

          Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

          5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

          If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

          Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

          Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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          6. Paint a vision to work towards.

          If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

          Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

          Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

          7. Read a book (or blog).

          The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

          Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

          Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

          8. Have a quick nap.

          If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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          9. Remember why you are doing this.

          Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

          What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

          10. Find some competition.

          Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

          Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

          11. Go exercise.

          Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

          Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

          As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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          Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

          12. Take a good break.

          Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

          Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

          Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

          Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

          More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

          Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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