13 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
What’s one of the cheapest beauty enhancers you can get on the market, making you slimmer as well as preventing dark eye circles and softening facial imperfections? This beauty secret can also make you more mentally alert, and it can improve pain relief. What is this miracle drug? Sleep.
Sleep is the number one most ignored and underrated beauty tool that you have available to you. Without sleep, your body can’t repair the damage it sustains during the day light hours. Without sleep, we feel more pain and age prematurely. Sleep can even help with weight loss because it affects the level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. A very large-scale study presented at the 2006 American Thoracic Society International Conference showed that women who slept 5 hours per night were 32% more likely to experience major weight gain (more than 30 lbs) and 15% more likely to become obese over the course of the 16-year study, compared to those who slept 7 hours a night. The study controlled for calorie intake, so that’s not what caused the weight gain. Most sleep experts say sleeping 8 hours a night is ideal.
Most of us take for granted being able to sleep whenever we wish, but a growing number of people experience more long-term insomnia. The causes include but are not limited to stress, bad nutrition, prescription drug side effects, and obesity. Sometimes addressing some of these problems directly can alleviate the sleeplessness. If you have chronic insomnia, you’ll most likely have to see a doctor to address your problem, to make certain it is not a symptom of something more serious, such as a hypothyroid condition. The following tips are natural alternatives to over-the-counter sleep aids for the occasional sleepless night. These tips are not intended to replace common sense or a medical doctor’s diagnosis. Sweet dreams.
13 Tips For a Better Night’s Rest
Avoid taking unnecessary naps. You may not be tired enough to go to bed at your regular time if you nap during the day.
Don’t eat large meals three hours before bed or less. Difficult-to-digest meals such as sandwiches, pizza, lasagna, or anything greasy can cause sleep disturbances even if they don’t keep you up, because your body is using its resources to digest food instead of doing repair work. This leads to waking up feeling unrefreshed and bad dreams. Alcohol might seem like a good idea for getting sleepy, but in the long run, it simply contributes to a more restless sleep. Try reserving lunch or breakfast for your heaviest meals. According to traditional Chinese medicine, our ability to digest is strongest around 10 am and is at its weakest in the evening.
Keep the temperature of your room cool. Sleeping when it is hot can be difficult. Having a fan in the room is fine, but redirect the current so the circulated air doesn’t keep up you by blowing directly onto your skin.
Many people, particularly women, have poor circulation in their extremities, so their fingers and toes get cold easily. It helps to put socks on before you go to bed.
Don’t exercise right before bed. This can keep some people from feeling calm enough to go to sleep.
Don’t drink caffeinated beverages close to bedtime. If you are really sensitive to caffeine you may have to limit your amounts or only drink them in the morning. Green tea and Yerba Mate are generally tolerated better than coffee or energy drinks. However, there are still a small number of people who can’t tolerate these without headaches or heart palpitations.
Avoid taking ‘energizing’ vitamins or supplements before bed. This especially goes for B-complex and chromium supplements. Calming supplements like magnesium or some fennel tea would be okay.
Sleep in a calming room. If the room is painted with bright yellow or an energetic red colour, then reconsider giving the room a more peaceful makeover. Adjust the lighting of the room to something subdued before bed. If necessary, use lamps to dim the lighting. Also, make sure that your window is properly blocked with a shade if your room faces blinding sunlight earlier than you normally wake.
Try not to watch TV in the bedroom or do computer work there. I realize some people live in situations where there isn’t a spare room for these activities. If that is the case, then cover or put away the electronics (physically far from the bed) when it gets close to bed time. Watching or listening to rousing media right before bed can prevent a restful night’s sleep. Earplugs may be necessary if surrounded by a loud snoring partner or street noise.
Take a warm bath with Epsom salts. Add a handful of seaweed & sea salt for a wonderfully sea inspired bath. However do not exceed more than ½ cup per bath as it may make insomnia worse in some iodine-sensitive individuals. Essential oils may be added to improve the scent. Common calming favorites include: melissa, sweet orange, sandalwood, lavender, rose, geranium, cypress, and patchouli. Essential oils that smell ‘minty’ like rosemary, eucalyptus, and peppermint should be avoided as they tend to invigorate the bather instead of calming. Relax in the bath for at least 20 minutes. If you do not have a bath tub, I recommend taking a large bucket and doing the same procedure smaller scale for just your feet.
For more stubborn sleeplessness, try acupuncture, massage, or shirodhara by experienced practitioners. If you have a partner, it can be fun and relaxing to exchange rubs before bedtime.
Try drinking some calming herbs infused in hot water such as: chamomile (unless you are allergic to ragweed), passionflower, lavender, valerian, skullcap, catnip, & fennel seed. Traditional Chinese remedies include sour jujube, pearl powder, and dragon eye fruits. For best and safest effect, seek out a herbal practitioner in your area for his or her opinion on your specific case.
Assuming you have clearance with your doctor, try either melatonin or GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) as temporary sleep aids. From what I’ve seen clinically, melatonin works better for older folks and if you have trouble staying asleep. GABA seems to work better on younger people who report anxious feelings and trouble getting into sleep mode. If you find GABA works well, you should consider eating things that help your body produce more of it, such as brown rice and green tea. Also, l-theanine supplements may be helpful if you don’t like the taste of green tea or brown rice.