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Five Tips for Excellent Sleep

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Five Tips for Excellent Sleep

writtenByWritten by: Sara Menges
Sara Menges

Sara Menges

Sara enjoys research, art, and seeking a sustainably fun life, balancing physical and mental health. Read more on how she explores, learns, and balances all her interests at www.saramenges.com.

Read more posts by this author.

August 23, 2017 Read Time - 4 minutes

Five Tips for Excellent Sleep

Sometimes we have so much to do, sleep gets a back-seat and caffeine takes its place. But are we more productive on less sleep? According to a study on workplace productivity, poor sleep led to worse productivity, performance, and safety outcomes. Sleep also prevents burnout and helps boost memory and decision making abilities, making it a great asset to an active life filled with to-dos. Get all the bang for your sleep tonight, and wake up ready for a productive and butt-kicking day by trying these strategies for quality slumber.

Consider What You Consume

We are not intended to digest during sleep, so the need to do so can cause indigestion and disrupt our bodies from focusing on sleep. Avoiding big meals close to bedtime and considering what we consume can prevent indigestion. Our digestive systems can also benefit from limiting greasy food items, hard to digest foods like proteins, and meals that trigger acid reflux, like spicy foods or too much citrus close to bedtime. Meals high in quality carbohydrates that has been found to help people fall asleep faster when eaten at least four hours before bed.

While staying hydrated is recommended, drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can keep you up with trips to the bathroom. If you must drink, stick with water. Drinking alcohol reduces natural melatonin production and can cause restless sleep after it fully breaks down in your system. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a key role in our body’s circadian rhythm, sometimes referred to as our sleep and wake cycle. To trigger melatonin production, a spoonful of raw honey is much more effective as a night cap!

Pay Attention to Your Sleep Environment

When you are getting ready to fall asleep, the environment you choose to wind down in contributes to sleep quality. Too much light, such as the brightness from cell phone or television screens, can prevent melatonin release in the body. Avoid any area that is brightly lit and activities that can overstimulate you like listening to fast-paced music. Instead, create a positive sleep environment by dimming the lighting in rooms and choosing soothing music or background noise. You can also sit and engage in breathing exercises. Deep breaths mimic our body’s natural relaxed state when you focus on exhaling and inhaling deeply a few times.

Exercise Daily, Any Time of Day

Being active during the day is great for deep sleep, even for chronic insomniacs. It also doesn’t take much activity to improve sleep. If you are inactive, simply adding a 10-minute daily walk can bring in benefits. Contrary to popular belief, activity before bedtime doesn’t disrupt sleep quality for everyone. A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation in 2013 confirmed this and found that exercising at any time of the day was better than no activity. Some sensitive sleepers might still want to avoid stimulating exercises at least two hours before bed or opt for more relaxation-inducing options. For instance, there are yoga stretches to leave you in a state of relaxation or aid with digestion. It’s important to try different methods and see what you find works best for you!

Be Mindful of Your Medications or Supplements

Some medications or supplements can disrupt sleep depending on their chemical make-up. Knowing which ones these are can keep you informed on what to avoid too close to bedtime. It’s important to always discuss medications and sleeping habits with your doctor before straying from recommended doses. Medication types to be aware of include

  • Beta-blockers prescribed for high blood pressure, migraines, and certain kinds of glaucoma that can inhibit melatonin production
  • Medication with chemicals related to caffeine such as asthma pills
  • Diuretics that can increase frequency of bathroom visits

Don’t Stay in Bed

If you’ve been in bed trying to fall asleep for a while, don’t stay there. Getting out of bed after 20 minutes of not falling asleep can prevent frustrations developing, including associating your bed with negative emotions. Instead of stressing yourself by continuing to count sheep, get up and sit in another part of the house being aware of the environment. Try breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques before getting back into bed again only once you feel tired.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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