One of the key components of overall health and wellness is uninterrupted sleep at night. For whatever reason, you might have trouble sleeping soundly at night or even falling asleep at all. According to WebMD, if you aren't getting around the recommended eight hours of sleep, your health can suffer as well as your weight loss efforts. Before you resort to a visit with your doctor or medication, try these little tricks and adjustments that can help you to sleep better at night.
Set a schedule and stick to it. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time. Pick a bedtime around which you are typically tired so that you aren't tossing and turning before finally falling asleep. If for some reason you need to change your schedule, try changing it in small, 15-minute increments if you can to help your body adjust. (via Help Guide)
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Make sure your days are bright. According to Help Guide, natural light increases the production of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep at night. When it's dark, your brain releases more melatonin and when it's light, it releases less so that you are awake and alert. So step out and soak up the sunshine whenever you can!
Don't read from backlit devices before bed. Again, this helps to regulate your body's production of melatonin and will help you fall asleep. So put away the tablets and laptops and read a book until you feel your eyelids drooping.
Sleep in a dark room. Help your brain to determine that it is, in fact, night time and it's time to sleep. Close the blinds and darken the room to whatever makes you feel comfortable. Sometimes it will be helpful to have a night light in the hallway so that if you have to get up in the night, you can still see without turning on lights and making it difficult to fall back asleep.
Use your bed for just two things. This is the cardinal rule for healthy sleep: Your bed is for sleep and sex only. Your body should associate your bed with just those two things. You really shouldn't even read in bed. So work on taxes, bills and read your magazines elsewhere and make your room off limits for anything besides sleep and sex. (via Huffington Post)
Make your bedroom comfortable. This is your preference but oftentimes it means cool, dark and quiet. Take measures to make it comfortable with a fan, darkening shades or a better mattress.
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Do what it takes to relax before bedtime. Sometimes your body and mind need a pep talk for sleep. Think of something that makes you sleepy. Take a steamy bath with relaxing bath salts. Listen to calming music. Read a book (try to stay away from those thrillers that might keep you awake). Again, stay away from TV, tablets and computers just before bed.
Eat right and exercise throughout the day. According to Prevention, cardiovascular activity improves sleep quality; however, try not to work out less than four hours before bedtime. Your body temperature is up for about four hours after exercise and it's not until you cool off that your body produces the melatonin to fall asleep.
Pay attention to your breathing. Instead of counting sheep, focus on your breathing. Tricks like the 4-7-8 breathing trick force you to imitate your breathing while you're asleep and help you drift off to sleep before you've even realized it.
Stop smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant and will keep you awake at night. Plus, the cravings for a cigarette could disrupt your sleep. Quitting will improve overall health so consider giving up the habit. (via Prevention)
Cut back on caffeine. You can still indulge in a morning coffee, but any caffeine after about 2 p.m. will interfere with your deepest sleep. Check out this article Drink This To Sleep More to find out what you should be drinking instead.
Journal before bed. Stress can keep you awake for hours, running through all the things you are worried about and have to do tomorrow. Try writing everything down before bed to get it out of your head and rest easy that you have it written down so you can address it all in the morning.
Burn candles or incense before bed. Scents like lavender, Valerian root, peppermint and lemon help you fall asleep, sleep better and even wake up in the morning. (via Slumber Wise)
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Use white noise. Sharp, annoying sounds throughout the house at night can disrupt sleep, like a drippy faucet or coughing child. Try to eliminate those noises and if you can't, use white noise to mask them. Turn on a fan or use a noise maker. Just make sure it's soft and steady.
Don't let the pets join you in bed. Of course you love your dog, but he is probably not the best addition to your nighttime routine. Pets can disrupt their sleep with their own restless behavior and can also bring allergens to your bed that trigger a reaction.
Make sure you have the right pillow. Everyone sleeps different so a standardized pillow doesn't really exist. When you pick out a pillow, make sure it's tailored to the way you sleep whether it's on your side, back or belly. Also pay attention to the material and the quality.
Limit naps during the day. If you absolutely need a quick refresher, make sure it's no longer than 30 minutes. Long naps can make you awake and alert when it's time to go to bed, which can really mess up your sleep schedule.
Watch what you eat just before bed. Your body will work hard to metabolize your food, so stick with something light and small. This can also help with weight loss because when you sleep, your body slows down and won't be able to burn off those calories the way it would during the day.
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If these tips and tricks just don't cut it, talk to a medical professional. It is important that you get the proper amount of sleep so that your body is healthy and you can take on the day. Check out this article for more details on how to conquer the problems you have when you try to sleep.
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