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15 Ways to Sleep Better, and Wake up Refreshed

15 Ways to Sleep Better, and Wake up Refreshed

We are all plagued with the modern man’s disease—insomnia.

From a combination of bad diet, lack of exercise, staring at electronic back-lit screens for hours, we have thrown our circadian rhythm clocks completely out of whack. In the last year I have been digging deep into the world of healthy habits, and have found a wealth of information from sources such as BulletProof and Fat-Burning Man. These alternative health advocates use cutting edge technology and science to help you hack your health.

And thankfully, in order to sleep well, it doesn’t really take all that much effort. Make these simple tweaks to your daily routine with these 15 ways to sleep better, so you wake up refreshed.

1. Cut back on sugary beverages.

Ah, the sugar problem. I could go on for days about how fructose corn syrups, low fat foods and soda have destroyed American health. But, in regards to sleeping better, cutting out the sugar will do wonders for your sleeping. If you consume more than 3 sodas a day (or say, 2 Starbucks Grande Lattes), try to cut that amount in half, and stop your sugar consumption after 5 p.m. This will allow for your body to detox and metabolize (or store) all those simple carbohydrates. An insulin spike right before bed is counterproductive to a good night’s rest.

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2. Cut back on the caffeine.

Just as sugar amps up your insulin levels, caffeine can up your adrenaline. If you are a heavy coffee drinker you should also cut back on the Joe, and attempt to not drink any after 5 p.m.

3. Do morning cardio.

How does exercising in the morning contribute to sleeping better? For starters, you need to develop a solid morning routine, which directly effects your evening rituals. Early morning cardio gives you a reason to get out of bed, and keeps you from hitting that snooze button, which will help you to get to bed easier the next night. Aim for 30 mins, whether its a jog on the treadmill, a walk with the dog, or a Jazzercise routine.

4. Have some fruit.

A small amount of carbohydrates before bed time will help your body to produce melatonin. Reach for a handful of grapes, an orange, or any small amount of fresh fruit to help you into La-La Land.

5. Take a melatonin supplement.

If your internal clock needs a hard reset, starting with a melatonin supplement could work wonders. Take these supplements (there is varying advice on the dosage) an hour before you plan to fall asleep. This will give you time to unwind, get on your pjs and fall asleep before you know it.

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6. Drink herbal tea.

No Sugar. No caffeine. Yes to herbal tea!

Herbals teas are a great way to unwind and relax at the end of the day. Peppermint and chamomile are some of my favorites. If you are new to tea, here is a lovely guide on how to get started.

7. Read more.

If diet and exercise contribute to sleep, so does a quiet mind. Take that cup of herbal tea and sit down with some light reading to relax your mind.

8. Start a journal.

For the supercharged and on the go person, reading at night seems impossible. Instead, I like to sit at my desk and make a list, or a short journal of all the things I accomplished that day, and then to make a small list of things I plan to do tomorrow. This allows me to worry less about remembering things, and to concentrate on unwinding.

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9. Lift weights.

If cardio is a good morning routine, lifting weights in the evening is a perfect bedtime routine. After dinner, spend sometime weight training. If you don’t have a weight set, do some Crossfit style exercises or even just a few sets of sit up and push ups. Firing up your muscles burns that lingering sugar in your bloodstream, and will help you to nod off a little easier.

10. No electronics in bed, ever.

And another topic I could go on about forever about is how smartphone and tablets have destroyed sleeping habits. I set my phone for “night mode”, meaning at precisely 11pm my phone goes silent until 6am. This has staved off the workaholic and insomnia more than any other tip I have tried.

11.  Have more sex.

The bedroom should be a sacred place—this is where you (and possibly a partner) partake in intimate activities. Orgasms are a great stress reliever and (or even something as mundane as snuggling!) release the hormone oxytocin  and sertonin, both of which help you to feel relaxed and drowsy. Take complete advantage of your partner (or porn) and jump in the sack early.

12. Never hit the snooze.

Hitting the snooze button is a way to perpetuate a bad sleeping cycle. You go to bed late because you know you will be hitting the snooze button at least 5 times. Instead force yourself to get up on the first buzzer and you WILL be exhausted. This will eventually lead to you going to bed earlier.

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13. Eat real butter for breakfast.

My boyfriend has struggled with insomnia for years. One of the best ways I have found to get him into a better sleeping pattern is that the last thing I say to him before I go to sleep, “I’m going to make you a big bacon and cheese omelet in the morning.” On those days, he is up and at ’em before me! Not only is this a great motivator to go to bed, it is a great motivator to get out of bed. And the the dose of protein and fat helps to get your brain moving quicker than a carbohydrate dense breakfast. I opt for Bulletproof coffee.

14. Drink more water.

Logical, right? Not so much. As my first few points said, we Americans like to indulge in sugar and caffeine (I know far too many people that down a Mountain Dew before bed). If you aren’t a tea drinker, than get a tall glass of ice water, or better yet, infused water, and sip on it before you head to bed. This will  help your body to detox when you sleep, to rehydrate your system and to aid digestion.

15. Switch out your lights.

Even if you swear off the TV and tablet before bed, you still need to navigate around your bedroom and home. A great way to lessen your evening light exposure is to opt for red spectrum bulbs. These simulate (you guessed it!) an evening sunset and help to sync your internal clock for sun down.

Featured photo credit: Stunt of the Litter via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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