Diet and exercise have become highly marketed, profitable areas of health, with new fads and trends regularly surfacing. Diet plans that promise energy and rejuvenation and exercise regimens designed to get us fit and toned in no time lead us to believe –“that’s all we need to lead productive, healthy and fulfilling lives”. But, we often neglect the truth that, not sleeping enough can reduce and undo the benefits of dieting and exercising.
Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Sleep boosts your immune system, renews your cells, boosts brain cognition, and also assists with metabolism.
Here are some tips to really increase the quality and length of your sleep.
1. No More Screens Before Bed!
Remove the television from your bedroom. Not doing this decreases your melatonin by essentially waking your brain up due to the blue light in electronics.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making you sleepy—and less when it’s light—making you more alert.
Eliminate cell phone use 1 hour before bed. This is due to the same properties above; your body confuses night with day and stops melatonin production.
2.Be smart about what you eat and drink
Your daytime eating habits play a role in how well you sleep, especially in the hours before bedtime.
Limit caffeine. You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it!
Avoid big meals at night. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
Avoid alcohol before bed. While a nightcap may help you relax, it interferes with your sleep cycle once you’re out.
Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening. Drinking lots of fluids may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.
Cut back on sugary foods and refined carbs. Eating lots of sugar and refined carbs during the day can trigger wakefulness at night and pull you out of the deep, restorative stages of sleep.
3. Wind Down and Clear your Head
Practicing relaxation techniques before bed is a great way to wind down, calm the mind, and prepare for sleep. Try:
Deep breathing. Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last.
Progressive muscle relaxation. Starting with your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up to the top of your head.
Visualizing a peaceful, restful place. Close your eyes and imagine a place that’s calming and peaceful. Concentrate on how relaxed this place makes you feel.
4.Create The Perfect Sleep Environment
Keep your bedroom at 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Your body simply cannot relax if it’s hot. In fact, take a cooler shower before bedtime; it is actually beneficial because it lowers your body temperature.