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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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Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

“For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

Primal Therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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How it Started

“During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

“I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

Delving deeper

Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

Some Methods To Practice Screaming

If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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  • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
  • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
  • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

Scream Sing

Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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  • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
  • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
  • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
  • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
  • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
  • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
  • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

Scream into a pillow

Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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