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How to Have Quality Sleep Effortlessly

How to Have Quality Sleep Effortlessly

Let’s get it out of the way: “sleeping effortlessly” probably sounds ridiculous to you. If you have a noisy neighbour or you are grappling with worries or plans, falling asleep can, in fact, feel like it requires a great deal of effort. Even things such as a change of season, or the growing number of candles adorning your birthday cake, can impact negatively on sleep!

The good news is that it is in your power to make effortless sleep a reality. By tweaking your lifestyle and attitude to sleep, you can improve your chances of getting good quality rest, regularly. These tweaks may take some effort but, once you’ve overcome the first few days (and nights), they quickly become part of your everyday routine.

We are told that sleep is a natural process that we have little power over, but it has been shown that we give ourselves the best chance of good sleep when we maintain good sleep habits. So, if you’re wondering how you might be able to achieve that effortless sleep night after night, read on for a glance at what the latest sleep research tells us we should be doing.

1. Aerobic exercise can help (but not too late in the day!).

A well-known sleep fix, aerobic (or cardiovascular) exercise has been shown to improve self-reported sleep quality, particularly among the elderly [1]. If you don’t exercise much, even just a 10-minute walk a day might up the odds of sleeping well, as suggested by the National Sleep Foundation[2].

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There does indeed seem to be a link between being fit physically and achieving better sleep quality. For example, one study on young women found a correlation between poorer sleep quality and lower fitness measures such as cardiovascular fitness and flexibility [3]. More recently, research has focussed on how obesity might affect sleep, revealing that excess weight can indeed hinder sleep quality both in adolescents [4] and older adults [5].

The key thing in adding exercise to your day is not to let it encroach on your evening routine. Exercising leaves us feeling energised and wide awake which can chase away sleepiness towards the end of the day, thus potentially delaying sleep.

2. Keep your wake-up time consistent. (Even on the weekends!)

Keeping your wake-up time consistent is actually more important than having a set bedtime. Our body clock, one of the two systems in control of sleep, is reset after waking each morning so a steady rising time helps to keep it working well.

3. Re-consider naps.

Whilst research isn’t consistent on whether naps during the day improve or interfere with sleep quality, avoiding naps may be something to try. Letting sleep permeate daytime (when we are supposed to be awake) can confuse both the body clock and the other system managing our sleep: sleep pressure.

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Sleep pressure usually builds up over the course of the day—rising from its lowest point in the morning to its peak at bedtime. Topping up on sleep while sleep pressure is meant to be increasing can interrupt this process and, as a result, postpone our bedtime. So there is good logic behind suggestions to keep sleep and wakefulness in separate blocks.

However, there will always be exceptions (some elderly for example [9]) so don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works best for you best.

4. Take care of your mind.

Guided relaxation techniques and meditation have been shown to help sleep set in more quickly and to boost sleep quality. Relaxation techniques in particular have clinical evidence behind them as they are frequently used as part of wholesome psychological approaches to treating sleep problems, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Whilst these techniques may not help on their own if you’ve suffered from poor sleep for a long time, those of us who are fairly good sleepers may still benefit from including them in our routines.

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Relaxing in bed with non-engaging music has also been shown to aid sleep. In a couple of studies, the elderly listening to classical music shortly before bedtime achieved better quality sleep [7-8].

5. Limit alcohol and nicotine, especially in the evening.

It’s true that alcoholic beverages can make us feel snoozy, especially in the evening, but the trade-off for this can be poor sleep quality, as alcohol actually disrupts our sleep later in the night. As it’s broken down in our system, our body undergoes a kind of withdrawal which can not only have us waking up through the night, but it can also leave us wide awake hours earlier than our usual wake-up time.

So if quality sleep comes first, reducing alcohol later in the day may help. One study showed even taken at 4pm it can still cause sleep disruption [10].

Nicotine, on the other hand, can leave us feeling more awake than before, which may lead to us taking longer to fall asleep. A large-scale study also indicated that nicotine can reduce sleep quality, especially in those smokers with higher levels of dependancy [6].

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6. Smaller meals in the evening.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that certain foods can improve sleep or get us quality sleep, but sleep science does have a view on eating close to bedtime. A big meal is said to be a no-no as it can shift the body’s focus away from preparing you for sleeping as it has to rev up digestion again.

A smaller meal should be broken down quicker thus helping your whole body to get as much rest as possible so that you rise feeling well-rested, as you should after good quality sleep.

Getting quality sleep via these scientifically proven tweaks may require some effort to settle into new routines. However, they should continue to pay off for the rest of one’s life, laying out a red carpet for quality sleep to occur regularly.

References:
[1] Reid, K., Baron, K.G., Lu, Brandon, Naylor, E., Wolfe, L., Zee, P.C. (2010). Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia. Sleep Medicine 11(9), 934-940.
[2] National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org/alert/national-sleep-foundation-poll-finds-exercise-key-good-sleep
[3] Lee, A.J., Lin, W.H. (2007). Association between sleep quality and physical fitness in female young adults. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 47(4), 462-467.
[4] Gupta, N.K., Mueller, W.H., Chan, W., Meininger, J.C. (2002). Is obesity associated with poor sleep quality in adolescents? American Journal of Human Biology, 14(6), 762-8.
[5] Hung, H.C., Yang, Y.C., Ou, H.Y., Wu, J.S., Lu, F.H., Chang, C.J. (2013). The association between self-reported sleep quality and overweight in a Chinese population. Obesity, 21(3), 486-92.
[6] Cohrs, et al. 2012. Impaired sleep quality and sleep duration in smokers—results from the German Multicenter Study on Nicotine Dependence. Addiction Biology, doi: 10.1111/j.1369-1600.2012.00487.x
[7] Johnson, J.E. (2003). The use of music to promote sleep in older women. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 20(1), 27-35.
[8] Lai, H.L., Good, M. (2005). Music improves sleep quality in older adults. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 49(3), 234-244.
[9] Tanaka, H., et al. 2002. Short naps and exercise improve sleep quality and mental health in the elderly. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 56(3), 233-234.
[10] Van Reen, E., Tarokh, L., Rupp, T.L., Seifer, R., Carskadon, M.A. (2011). Does timing of alcohol administration affect sleep? SLEEP, 34(2), 195-205.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

10 Most Entertaining Things To Do During A Long Journey

10 Most Entertaining Things To Do During A Long Journey

There are many more fun and eventful things to do to pass away time during a long flight or train journey. Apart from sleeping and continuously playing games on mobile, you can utilize this quality time in more creative ways.

Should we take a look at all those amazing and curious ways to kill time during the long journey? Let’s go.

1. Become the Next Big Thing in the Writing World

Yes!! It’s time to become an Author. When I watch a romantic movie or read some fictional story, I feel like writing something of my own. If you feel the same, then there is no better time than a long journey, especially when you are traveling alone. Don’t forget that JK Rowling got the idea of Harry Potter while she was traveling on a train.

2. Become a Philosopher

Enough of reading and listening to various thoughts and quotations of other people. We all have experienced life and learned a lot, and it’s time to put your ideas into words.

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Or you can try to determine the meaning of life, what you have experienced and things you have learned from it. Remember, every success or failure and try to find the philosophical reason behind it. It will help your mind to calm down.

3. Card Games? Invent a New One

I have no issues with claiming that Card Games has always been the most preferred way to pass the time during an extended journey. But don’t stop there, you have enough time to tweak some rules, do some experiment and invent your own card game. Call it anything you want, make sure that new game is entertaining enough to attract more players.

4. Go into the Fantasy World

Most of the time I put myself into Hogwarts, next moment I am fighting for the wizard world. You can do that too, and it’s not that tough. Going into a fantasy world is the most exciting thing you can do while traveling alone.

5. Day Dream

Day Dreaming is sometimes helpful and helps your brain do some exercise. You can be at your creative best. I have found realistic solutions of toughest problems while day dreaming. You can be more open minded and understanding at this time.

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Daydream about being a singer or actor or richest person in the world. It gives you the motivation to do well and achieve your goals.

6. Time to Plan your Dream Project

This one is my favorite. You get enough time to work on your plans or dream projects. Travelling is the best time to brainstorm on your next product, which can be very efficient. Think about all pros and cons, praise yourself, criticize yourself and come up with best possible solutions because no one is there to judge you or your work at this moment.

7. Movie Marathon

Not only weekends, but a long journey is also an excellent time to start a film marathon. Create a list and watch movies online. Tune into any of the popular video streaming sites or app and watch your favorite TV Series and movies.

8. Breakdown your Goals into Realistic Steps

While you are traveling, you can set realistic and possible steps to achieve your aim. Spend your time in breaking down your goals and plan to achieve each small one in a given period. You can set your daily routine, work on your work-life balance and plan for a more systematic approach in day to day life. Don’t forget that walking through small steps is the key to reaching on top.

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9. Read a Book

Reading will never go out of fashion. Always carry a book with you. It is the most amazing thing to spend some time with, especially when you are alone and have lots of free time. Fiction or non-fiction, stories of any kind will always entertain you and enlighten you with new life lessons.

10. Eavesdrop: Its Actually Entertaining

The most entertaining thing to do during the long flight or train journey. You get to listen to amazing and exciting stories of the ordinary public, which sometimes are more interesting than Soap operas. I, once eavesdropped on a couple’s fight and seriously the reason was hilarious.

I got entertained like never before.

The Bottom Line

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Have some fun, do some exciting things, don’t waste your time in sleeping and playing the same game again and again.

Featured photo credit: simplybusinessclass.com via blog.simplybusinessclass.com

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