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.
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.
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.
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.
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