4 Healthy Steps to Improve Sleep for the Sleep-Deprived

4 Healthy Steps to Improve Sleep for the Sleep-Deprived

Many of you already know how important a good night sleep is for your body. Getting that perfect snooze allows the body to metabolize and regain its strength. However, as more studies are published about sleep, researchers continue to discover that it actually involves more than just rejuvenating your body. It is also linked to improving your mental health and overall defense against disease.

There are other related researches that have established how sleep deprivation can affect your health negatively. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, sleep deficiency makes you prone to heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. On that note, now may be the best time to take steps to improve your sleeping habits to avoid these health issues. These four simple and healthy ways might just help you out.

Cutting Caffeine

You are probably aware of how caffeine affects your nervous system. If your love for coffee gives you sleeping problems, the easiest solution is to just quit it entirely. However, it turns out that most common resources available in the market today have a hint of caffeine. From your favorite cup of Joe, to diet pills and pain relievers, this psychoactive drug is hard to quit entirely. The best you can do is to regulate your intake.

Caffeinated drinks such as coffee work to your advantage when you drink them in the morning, since they help you to be sharp and attentive as you begin your day. When you drink them in the later hours of day, it can make it harder for you to get a good night’s rest. Therefore, it is necessary to periodically examine your caffeine intake schedule.

Mayo Clinic notes that 4 cups of coffee a day is too much. Doing so can lead to negative side effects such as migraines, stomach aches and nervousness. Professionals advise to stick to a maximum of two cups within the first half of the day. In the same way, while the number of cups in a day can give you a good estimate, you can get a better sense of your caffeine use by paying attention to the labels of the food and beverages you eat.

Again, since caffeine is often found in beverages, checking the label on products is a good way to keep yourself on track. Food items such as protein bars, ice cream and even yogurt can contain caffeine, so it’s best to also take note of these. In addition, whatever caffeine level your body is at, it is recommended that you start cutting back gradually so that your body can get used to lower levels of caffeine and avoid any form of unwanted withdrawal symptoms.

Optimal Sleeping Environment

Better Health Channel states that sleep deficiency may occur from stimuli in your sleeping environment. One of the most notable concerns is room temperature. Have you ever wondered why you sleep faster when you have a cooler environment?

Sleep.org seems to have found the answer. The National Sleep Foundation-funded group has noted that the body works like a thermostat, reducing its temperature to a certain point that allows you doze off more comfortably. This means that the cooler your bedroom is, the faster you can get to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep.

Then again, there are limitations to how cold a room should be. The organization adds that the suggested bedroom temperature for comfortable sleep ranges between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Put your room in that temperature range and you can surely doze off faster.

Another environment stimulus is sound. Sound can both have positive and negative effects for your sleeping behaviors depending on the levels and types present. Soothing sounds such as low-level and low-pitched noise can help induce sleep. These are generally called white noise.

White noise can moderate intermittent disturbances and deliver a consistent backdrop for more tranquil rest. Because of its proven advantages, companies have put white noise-producing machines onto the market. You can to buy one and see if it works for you.

As opposed to soothing hums, there are sounds which can disrupt your sleeping pattern and keep you restless all night. Whether it’s the horn sounds of cars in traffic or the annoying snore of your bed partner, there are ways you can go about eliminating these noises. You can start by closing windows and doors to lessen the volume of unwanted sounds from the outside. As for your snoring partner, you can get a good idea about anti-snoring solutions from withoutsnoring.com and see what is best.

Zealous and Active Lifestyle

Exercise is another good way to improve your sleeping habits. While most of you already recognize how exercising helps the body by promoting faster metabolism, it helps reduce the risk of sleep deprivation by burning calories.

As mentioned earlier, for sleep to happen, the body lowers its level of temperature to a certain point. According to Sleepfoundation.org, when the calorie burning process is imitated, the body heats up to a certain temperature. This prompts a body temperature drop after the workout, which can help bring about sleep.

An active lifestyle also enhances sleep quality and increases sleep duration. As you exercise, you tend to diminish your stress levels. It also tires your muscles, which later on will demand that you take a break, and get some rest. As such, it important to consider your sleeping pattern when you plan your workout schedule.

Early morning exercises are typically the best option if you want to be consistent, since early workout averts any chance of you cramping up your schedule and succumbing to school or work demands. Plus, working out in the morning gives your body enough time to gradually relax and calm down before you naturally fall asleep.

On the contrary, experts advise that you shouldn’t work out late in the evening or right before bedtime. Since you are raising your temperature when you exercise, you may find it harder to sleep. What you can do is try out yoga and simple stretching, which can help you relax without much physical stress.

Healthy Diet

A delicious and healthy diet can surely have you dreaming in bed in no time. Conversely, an unbalanced diet can haunt you in your dreams.

How exactly does food affect how you sleep? It is important to know that there are key nutrients that you need in order to have a nice, peaceful rest.

Diets low in vitamin D, butanoic acid, lauric acid, and lycopene are linked with difficulty staying asleep. Researchers have also connected sleep troubles with diets low in calories, carbohydrates, vitamin C, and potassium. Also, dehydration negatively affects the quality of your sleep. With all of these in mind, you can now get a better sense of what food you should eat to help you finally get your well-deserved beauty rest.

Aside from the abovementioned nutrients, Readers Digest has also noted some of the foods that can help you fall asleep faster. Atop the list are walnuts and almonds. The magazine indicates that that walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, the “body clock” hormone that sets your sleep cycle. Almonds, on the other hand, are rich in magnesium, a mineral needed for quality sleep and a known headache remedy.

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How Yoga Gives You Better Sleep

It’s 3 a.m. and you’re still counting sheep. When was the last time you had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep at night? Do you still know how it feels to wake up and feel truly refreshed? Quality sleep has become a luxury amid our fast-paced lifestyle. There’s just so much to do with too little time. Sleep deprivation, sadly, is the norm. Without a doubt, not getting enough sleep each night makes for a rough day and can spell disaster in the long run if it becomes habitual. The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School warns that in the short term, insufficient sleep can “affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injuries.” Long-term sleep deprivation has grimmer consequences—obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and [gulp] premature death. The repercussions of sleep deprivation go beyond irritability and sluggishness. A recent study suggests that seven nights of insufficient sleep can lead to more than 700 genetic changes. Dr. Colin Smith, a professor at the University of Surrey, warns, “Clearly, sleep is critical to rebuilding the body and maintaining a functional state, all kinds of damage appear to occur. If we can’t actually replenish and replace new cells, then that’s going to lead to degenerative diseases.” Quality sleep, like nutritious food and exercise, is a basic need of the body. The non-profit National Sleep Foundation recommends a sleep range of seven to nine hours for people aged 18 to 64 and seven to eight hours for older adults aged 65 years and older. If you’re not getting at least seven hours of shut-eye each night, it’s time to consider a lifestyle change and possibly make a visit to the doctor since some sleeping problems may suggest an underlying psychological or medical issue. There are several natural ways to get back on a natural sleep cycle. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and regulating use of electronic gadgets is a great place to start. Studies have also shown that meditative activities such as yoga can help in getting a good night’s rest. Here are some facts on how yoga can lead to a blissful slumber.

Yoga relaxes the nervous system

yogasleep1 Photo Courtesy of jeviniya via Pixabay The nervous system is responsible for getting a restful sleep at night. An active nervous system is one of the primary impediments to catching the sleep wave. Yoga, which involves posture and breathing exercises, increases blood flow to the brain’s sleep center. This helps calm the nervous system and normalize the body’s sleep cycle. Some recommended yoga poses to relax the nervous system include uttanasana, halasana, and savasana. Be warned, however, that certain types of yoga such as bhastrika pranayama and sudarshan kriya yoga must be avoided in late evenings as these boost the body’s energy levels, making it hard to fall asleep.

Yoga cuts down anxiety and stress

Stress is a public health concern. It may be taken as an expected consequence of modern living, but its hazards should not be taken lightly. Stress contributes to our increased risk in developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and a myriad of other ailments. According to a study by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), 70% of surveyed individuals who experience anxiety or stress daily confessed to having trouble sleeping. Moreover, 54% of the respondents said that their mental disorders increased anxiety about falling asleep at night. Better sleeping because of yoga is attributed to the ability of meditative activities in quieting the mind. Putting ones focus on a single focal point provides an outlet to release energy blocks that may be causing stress. One simple solution for reducing sleep-related stress is to spend a few minutes before bed either taking a few relaxing yoga poses on the mat or in bed each night. Try it–it works!

Yoga rejuvenates the body

One of the important benefits of yoga is its rejuvenating effect on every aspect of life. It eliminates toxins and revitalizes the entire body down to the cellular level. The breathing exercises boost the body’s oxygen levels while relaxed stretching generally has a calming effect, which usually results in improved sleep patterns. Toronto-based yoga teacher Darcie Clark says, “When you slow down and stay in a pose, you can feel different areas of the body that are tense and holding on from your day and gradually let that go as you sit and breathe through the pose.” A regular, daily yoga practice will impact not just how we feel during the day, but how our bodies wind down at night. Some other recommended yoga poses in the evening before sleeping include balasana or child’s pose, janu sirsasana or head-to-knee pose, and baddha konosana or bound angle pose. Rest like a baby by regularly practicing all three of these poses before dozing off in bed.

Yoga is an effective bedtime ritual

yogasleep4 Photo Courtesy of JayMantri via Pixabay Getting quality sleep can be a challenge when we have too many things on our minds. It’s well-documented that our obsession with our electronic gadgets at night usually adds up to sleep troubles. Sleep experts recommend developing a bedtime ritual that doesn’t involve alcohol, caffeine, electronic gadgets, and too much stimulating thinking. Incorporating a few yoga poses into the evening routine is the perfect way to turn down the noises of the day and relax the body. Even just making a few yoga poses a part of the evening ritual can lead to a blissful night’s rest. ———————— Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Patricia Evans. Patricia is an Interior Designer, Residential Designer, Art Crafter, DIYer and a full-time mother. She writes about interior decorating, she loves working with shapes, shades and spaces. She is also into green and simple living, loves cooking, and having tea.
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