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Good night sleep. The best thing in the world (Second to a nice Cheeseburger on a rainy morning). According to a 2010 survey, 30 percent of Australians reported experiencing a severe sleeping disorder. Whereas in America, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that one of every four Americans reports not getting enough night sleep. This corresponds with another survey saying that around 60 million Americans are affected by sleep disorder each year. So, how to sleep better in a high-paced life like the one we`re living today? By following these three simple tips:
Night Sleep Tip #1: Aim to be as relaxed as possible (Seriously)
Keeping a “relaxed” bedtime routine is the core to great night sleep, studies say. According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should separate your sleep time from any stress, anxiety or excitement coming from other daily activities. This means that the least you can do is turn off your phone, TV and/or laptop to avoid any sleep disruption. According to studies by the Universities of Michigan and Colorado Boulder, 56 percent of sleep disruption cases are caused by the excessive usage of electronics in bed. Associate your bedtime with only sleep and sex, and —if possible— keep all electronic gadgets in a separate room. Once you build this habit, you can use do yoga or meditate before you sleep. Both can decrease sleep disturbance and reduce the need for sleep medications. In one study, 69 seniors were asked to either do yoga or take a herbal preparation before bed. The results then showed that the yoga group slept better and felt more energetic in the morning compared to the herbal group. Also, meditating for 10-15 minutes before going to bed can add to your sleep quality. According to this 2011 study, those who attended a weekly meditation class and practiced meditation before bed significantly improved insomnia compared to the control group. Other studies suggest that some breathing techniques such as the 4-7-8 technique enhance the quality of sleep as they act as a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.
Night Sleep Tip #2: Eat/drink the right stuff
Many studies are against eating before bed as it may slow down your metabolism. Still, if you choose to eat before bed then make sure it makes you sleep better, such as:
- Chamomile Tea
Researchers call it “a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer.” They believe it acts as a mild sedative to calm your nerves, reduce anxiety and improve your sleep quality. In one study, ten of twelve sleep-disrupted heart patients fell into a deep sleep shortly after drinking the beverage.
- Food rich in serotonin
Serotonin is a good chemical that sends signals between your nerve cells and, according to studies, can act as a sleep-inducer and mood stabilizer. You can naturally increase serotonin levels in your brain by eating foods that are high in tryptophan such as eggs, cheese, tofu, pineapples, salmon, nuts and seeds —especially almonds—, and turkey.
Night Sleep Tip #3: Caffeine is great for your health (but too much won’t get you to bed)
Stimulants such as coffee, tea, soft and energy drinks can have amazing health benefits such as lowering the risk of specific types of cancer as well as Type-2 diabetes. However, these stimulants can increase the activity of the central nervous system… And can affect your night sleep if taken right before, or close to, your bedtime. One study by Drexel University found that among the 76 percent of sampled high school students who consumed more than 100 mg of caffeine per day —the equivalent of drinking a single espresso— at least one third said they felt tired during the day. Another study by the University of Colorado at Boulder says that too much caffeine can disrupt your internal clock and delay it by 40 minutes which can make you feel sluggish during the day. Experts also believe that it takes six hours for only half of the caffeine to be fully metabolized by your body which is why consuming lots of coffee or tea before bed is more likely to make you awake, or at least less relaxed than you should be.
Marwan Jamal is a soccer-playing, food-loving, joke-cracking New York-based wellness writer. You can say hi to me here