A guest post by Natalie Hawkins
“Obesity, depression and type 2 diabetes are all linked to not getting enough sleep” According to this report by the CDC. It’s no surprise that stress, depression, and family responsibilities are the most significant contributors to sleep loss. In the US, 1 in every 3 adults doesn’t get enough sleep (>7 hours). Even though there are a few factors contributing to sleep loss beyond your control, these simple habits all encourage better sleep naturally.
Therefore, learning how to achieve better sleep naturally is as important as ever!
- How can a sleep schedule help my overall sleep quality? Every adult should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep every day. The average person falls asleep in 7 minutes. Our bodies naturally have a sleep-wake cycle, and we shouldn’t spend more than 8 hours in bed to satisfy it. When we get to bed and wake up at regular times, we’re reinforcing this cycle, and falling asleep gets a little bit easier. We should try to limit deviations in this cycle to a maximum of one hour (even on weekends and on public holidays). If it takes longer than 20 minutes for you to fall asleep when you get in bed, get out and do something else – like reading a book or listening to relaxing music. Only get to bed when you’re weary and red-eyed.
- What should I eat for better rest? We all know that energy drinks, caffeine, and nicotine all affect how we sleep. Large meals before bed aren’t the best for you either. When you go to bed stuffed or hungry, the discomfort may keep you awake. Coffee is excellent in the morning. But, when you have some before dinner, it may not have entirely worn off when its bedtime. Alcohol is weird too. While it certainly makes you sleepy, it will surely disrupt your sleep cycle. Dairy and high-fat foods like pizza, pasta, and hotdogs should be avoided before sleep as they’re suggested to make sleep apnea worse.
- Is there a best place to sleep? Cool, dark, and quiet places are sleep-inducing. It’s challenging falling asleep in bright light. That’s why we close our eyes when sleeping. In fact, sunrise alarm clocks wake you up by simulating the sun’s rays instead of using sound. Computer screens and phones emit blue light that affects our sleep cycles too. Some apps claim to block this type of light, but aren’t you better off avoiding using phones at bedtime altogether?
- Day time naps are great, but did you know they affect nighttime sleep? If you must take a nap during the day, limit it to 20 minutes, and it shouldn’t be late in the afternoon either. Naps can, at times, be unproductive – such as when you have them right before dinner. They’ll throw your sleep cycle off course. Between 2 and 3 in the afternoon is the best time to take a nap after lunch as the body naturally starts to lag at this time. Keep them short. The first twenty minutes sleeping is referred to as the light stage, and you’re better off waking up before they elapse.
- Should I Exercise for Better Sleep? As kids, we used to instinctively know that physical activity affected our sleep. People sleep better when they have exercised. Exercising doesn’t necessarily refer to signing up for expensive gym membership or buying the “latest” home exercises e-book. Slow walks, jogs, biking, and swimming all relieve anxiety and improving sleep quality. However, avoid exercising late in the evening, which can disrupt your sleep patterns.
- Ashwagandha – the Indian herb – is sleep-inducing! In this report, Dr. Mahesh and his team discovered that an Ashwagandha leaf extract induced sleep in mice. This proved that it was capable of mitigating insomnia, especially among senior citizens. Unlike synthetic sleeping pills like Doxylamine, this is a natural root extract and doesn’t have side effects. In this post, we show how ashwagandha affects our energy levels.