Those nights of restless sleep end now.
Just imagine…You climb into bed at night and within seconds of closing your eyes you drift off soundly for 8 hours straight. Your alarm goes off and you jump out of bed with loads of energy, completely refreshed and ready to tackle the world.
Sounds great, doesn't it? For most people, this is more of a dream than a reality. Adults need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night for optimal health and well-being, but most aren’t even coming close and that’s taking a toll on health. The bad news is that insomnia can cause mood problems and poor work performance as well as increase the risk for many chronic diseases.
The good news? You have more control over a good night’s sleep than you might think! Follow the healthy sleep habits below to wake up feeling refreshed and to stay healthy both mentally and physically.
Develop a Bedtime Routine
A relaxing bedtime routine primes your mind for sound slumber. Here are some things you can add to your routine:
Take a warm bath with lavender Epsom salts
Read a book for 15-30 minutes
Try yoga to activate the body’s relaxation response
Practice mindful meditation for 10 minutes using an app like Headspace
Don’t use this time to solve problems. Write down your thoughts and feelings and tackle them in the morning.
Stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine contain chemicals that interfere with sleep and should be avoided 4-6 hours before bed.
Limit Electronic Use
Blue light emitted by electronics over-stimulates the mind, so turn off your phone, laptop and TV at least 1 hour before bed. Also, avoid the temptation to check your phone if you wake up at night.
Limit Time Spent in Bed
In general, bed should only be used for sleep. Using your bed for work or watching TV can train your mind and body to be more awake every time you're in bed.
Exercise Early and Regularly
Exercising 3-5 times a week can help increase your overall sleep quality! Physical activity increases time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase. Although it helps with sleep, exercising within 3 hours of bedtime can actually make you too energized to fall asleep, so you’ll want to get your workout in earlier.
Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep-inducing Environment
Some ways to turn your bedroom into the ultimate sleep-inducing environment include pulling your curtains/shades, wearing a sleep mask, turning down the heat at night, and using a white noise machine to drown out outside noise if needed.
Eat a Diet Rich in Sleep-inducing Foods
Here is a list of food that will help you get your best sleep ever:
Bananas (high in potassium and magnesium which help relax muscles)
Turkey and milk (contain tryptophan which enhances production of the sleep hormone melatonin)
Low-fat dairy and nuts (digest slowly so you avoid the blood sugar roller coaster that can wake you up)
Decaf green tea (packed with amino acids that have been proven to bring on relaxation and improve sleep quality)
These foods are not only healthy and sleep-inducing, they’re delicious too! Try this fruit-filled parfait from registered dietician Joy Bauer, which contains a delicious blend of nutrients that promote sound sleep.
So try some (or all) of these steps to take control and get the sleep you need. Your health and happiness depends on it.