The power of a good night sleep goes well beyond feeling rested and energized to start your day. Sleep quality effects just about every asset of your health from your mood, memory and learning to you energy levels, immunity and even your weight! Yes, this often ignored aspect of wellness could just be the secret to you feeling your best!
If you struggle with sleep you are not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation Forty-five percent of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once in the past seven days.
This doesn’t mean you need to suffer from those sleepless nights. Here’s our top tips for getting a good night sleep!
1. AVOID THAT AFTERNOON COFFEE: Caffeine’s stimulating effects can last up to six hours after you drink that cup of joe.
2. SAY NO TO A NIGHTCAP: While alcohol may make you sleepy, the type of sleep you get is poor quality. You may be more likely to wake in the middle of the night and feel lethargic the next day. If you’re going to enjoy an evening cocktail limit it to one or two.
3. EXERCISE REGULARLY: Research has shown that people who engage in regular physical activity have better quality of sleep. If you notice that late afternoon exercise seems to interfere with you falling to sleep try exercising in the morning.
4. MODIFY YOUR DIET: We’ll explore the relationship between food and sleep in our next post. We know that certain food components may help you to sleep better such as the amino acid tryptophan. Is there any truth to grandma’s advice to drink warm milk before bed? Follow next week to find out.
5. CONSIDER SUPPLEMENTS: Melatonin and valerian are popular dietary supplements to boost sleep. Upcoming posts will examine the safety and efficacy of common herbs and supplements used to treat insomnia.
6. UNPLUG! There has been a recent overwhelming amount of evidence linking our electronic use to sleep disturbances. Light promotes wakefulness. In fact daytime sunlight is what helps us to wake up naturally as part of our circadian rhythm and darkness as the sun goes down triggers our sleepiness. However artificial light from our modern world interferes with this natural cycle. Furthermore the light that comes from computer screens, tablets and smart phones is especially damaging to our sleep because it limits the release of melatonin, a sleep promoting hormone. Make your bedroom a technology free zone and stop using blue screen technology at least 30 minutes before bed.
7. PRACTICE SLEEP HYGIENE: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends and days off. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quite. Do something relaxing before bed like take warm bath or shower or listen to relaxing music.
8. PRACTICE YOGA: Breath work and specific yoga poses can help to calm the mind and the nervous system to improve sleep. Seated forward fold (paschimottana), child’s pose (balasana) and legs up the wall pose (viparita karani) are some of my favorite bedtime poses. If you are looking to take an evening class often Yin or Restorative yoga classes will help wind you down from the busy day.
9. EXPLORE MEDITATION: Studies have shown improved quality of sleep when people engage in a regular medication practice. I know for some of you meditation may sound a little too “new age” or out there. In fact I was one of those skeptical people until I decided to be open-minded and give it a try. Don’t know where to start? There’s a number of online resources to guide you through a mediation practice. I’ve been using the mobile app Headspace. It’s only 10 minute commitment a day and easy to do. Deepak Chopra and Oprah (yes the one and only Oprah) offer a free 21-Day Meditation Challenge a few times a year so be on the lookout for the next event. Find out more at https://chopracentermeditation.com/experience
10. CHECK WITH A DOCTOR: to see if you have an underlying condition that could be contributing to your poor sleep. Anxiety, depression, and sleep apnea are just a few of the medical conditions that could be interfering with your sleep.
Can’t get enough? Join us next week for the top foods + herbs we LOVE when it comes to sleep. Until we divulge those secrets start practicing one of the tips above + share this with your loved insomniacs!
Resources + References
National Sleep Foundation. https://sleepfoundation.org/
Chang AM, Aeschbach D, Duffy JF, Czeisler CA. Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jan 27;112(4):1232-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1418490112. PubMed PMID: 25535358; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4313820.
Ong, J. C., Manber, R., Segal, Z., Xia, Y., Shapiro, S., & Wyatt, J. K. (2014). A Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Chronic Insomnia. Sleep, 37(9), 1553–1563. http://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.4010