SLEEP TIPS for a better night's rest
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AVOID eating too close to bedtimeEating too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep, mostly because it gets your stomach acids going, and lying down can cause those acids to creep up into your throat. If you're really craving that late night snack, try a bowl of cereal with milk or cheese and crackers. These types of foods are rich in minerals, such as tryptophan and calcium, which help promote sleep.
AVOID caffeine and nicotine close to bedtimeCaffeine and nicotine are stimulants that, when taken within 3 hours of bedtime, can make it difficult to go to sleep or stay asleep until the chemicals wear off. Many people may recognize that drinks such as soda, tea, and coffee contain caffeine, but may not realize that foods such as chocolate also contain caffeine.
AVOID Alcohol before bedtimeMany people falsely believe that alcohol help promotes sleep as it makes them drowsy and more likely to fall asleep quicker. However, once your body begins to metabolize the alcohol there is a period of arousal, which disturbs one's sleep.
AVOID technology in the bedFor the same reasons you shouldn't have a TV or computer in your bedroom, you also shouldn't have a cell phone, tablet, laptop, portable game console, or e-reader in the room either. Most of these devices also emit the sleep stealing light and are used for consuming content that may rob you of sleep because it's so engaging.
AVOID hitting the Snooze ButtonSet your alarm and keep it away from your bed. Too often people get used to using their phone as their wake-up device. Having your phone close to your bed makes it too easy to continuously check it for new texts, emails, or just looking at the time. Constantly reminding yourself of the time can create anxiety, making sleep more difficult. Also, keeping your alarm away from your bed reduces the chances of hitting the snooze button over and over, and it makes you get up out of bed to shut it off.
AVOID a warmer Bedroom temperatureYour bedroom should be slightly cooler than the rest of your home. If you have the ability to control the temperature of individual rooms you should keep yours between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. When you sleep, your body temperature naturally begins to dip. Having a cool room helps facilitate this process, and having a room that is too hot can prevent it.
AVOID odd sleeping hoursGetting into a regular routine of going to bed and rising at the same times every day is one of the most important practices you can perform for better sleep. Part of keeping a healthy bedtime routine is to keep it up even on the weekends by avoiding staying up late and sleeping in. Depriving yourself of sleep during the midweek and binge-sleeping on the weekends does more harm to your sleep cycles than good.
AVOID gaming, Tweeting, Netflixing and posting in bedIt may be nice to do these things as a way to unwind after a long day, but just make sure you're not doing them in bed. Ideally the use of electronics should be stopped at least an hour before bed so as not to interfere with your body's production of the sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin. The blue light from computer screens, cellphones and televisions halt its production, which can leave you tossing and turning (and cranky in the morning).
FOODS THAT HELP YOU SLEEP
Believe it or not, what you eat or drink before bed can make a BIG difference in how you sleep!
AlmondsAlmonds are an excellent source of magnesium, which has been shown to improve sleep quality. A one-ounce serving of almonds contains 75 mg of magnesium, approximately 19% of your recommended daily allowance.
FishEating fatty fish may help you slumber better at night. This is because fish are an excellent source of vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine. In animal studies, vitamin B6 has been associated with greater synthesis of melatonin, an essential hormone for sleep. Vitamin B6 seems to regulate the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in the physiological arousal system, as well as melatonin.
WalnutsWalnuts are a good source of the amino acid tryptophan. One serving of walnuts (about a handful) contains 318 mg of this beneficial amino acid. Thus, eating a walnut-rich snack an hour or two before bed could help you drift off to sleep more easily.
Tart cherriesCherries are naturally high in melatonin, the primary hormone involved in governing your sleep-wake cycle. In fact, in a small clinical trial, participants drank tart cherry juice concentrate (made from Montmorency cherries) for seven days. The researchers found that after just one week, the participants who drank cherry juice had significantly higher levels of melatonin in their bodies. This was associated with greater time spent in bed, higher total sleep time, and better sleep efficiency. The benefits of cherries may not be limited to cherry juice. Eating dried tart cherries also supplies a source of melatonin.
Chamomile teaDrinking a cup of herbal tea has long been promoted as a natural sleep aid. Research evidence backs this up. Drinking chamomile tea may increase your levels of glycine, a chemical that acts as a mild sedative. This helps you relax and achieve sleep more quickly.
Brazil nutsSelenium is a mineral that is involved in the biochemical pathway that produces thyroid hormone. Thyroid imbalances can lead to sleep changes and lack of restful sleep. A diet that is low in selenium may make you more likely to have sleep problems. Brazil nuts are one of the best known sources of selenium, with one serving of the nuts containing 500 micrograms of the nutrient.
Leafy green vegetablesLeafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, turnip greens, and mustard greens are excellent sources of calcium. The presence of calcium helps your brain use tryptophan to produce the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. Eating a salad with dark leafy green vegetables for dinner can help you get the sleep you need.
Pretzels or chipsPretzels and chips have a high glycemic index, meaning that they cause blood sugar levels to spike. While this is typically avoided in people who are diabetic, it can be helpful to promote sleep. This is because the insulin boost that comes with high blood sugar in healthy individuals helps to shuttle more tryptophan into your brain.
About your sleep position:
On Your BackThough it's not the most popular position–only eight percent of people sleep on their backs–it's still the best. By far the healthiest option for most people, sleeping on your back allows your head, neck, and spine to rest in a neutral position. This means that there's no extra pressure on those areas, so you're less likely to experience pain. Sleeping facing the ceiling also ideal for warding off acid reflux. Just be sure to use a pillow that elevates and supports your head enough–you want your stomach to be below your esophagus to prevent food or acid from coming up your digestive tract. However, snoozing on your back can cause the tongue to block the breathing tube, making it a dangerous position for those who suffer from sleep apnea (a condition that causes periods of breathlessness). This position can also make snoring more severe.
On Your SideThis position (where your torso and legs are relatively straight) also helps decrease acid reflux, and since your spine is elongated, it wards off back and neck pain. Plus, you're less likely to snore in this snooze posture, because it keeps airways open. For that reason, it's also the best choice for those with sleep apnea. Fifteen percent of adult choose to sleep on their side, but there's one downside: It can lead to wrinkles, because half of your face pushes against a pillow.
In the Fetal PositionWith 41 percent of adults choosing this option, it's the most popular sleep position. A loose, fetal position (where you're on your side and your torso is hunched and your knees are bent)–especially on your left side–is great if you're pregnant. That's because it improves circulation in your body and in the fetus, and it prevents your uterus from pressing against your liver, which is on your right side. This pose is also good for snorers. But resting in a fetal position that's curled up too tightly can restrict breathing in your diaphragm. And it can leave you feeling a bit sore in the morning, particularly if you have arthritis in your joints or back. Prevent these woes by straightening out your body as much as you can, instead of tucking your chin into your chest and pulling your knees up high. You can also reduce strain on your hips by placing a pillow between your knees.
On Your StomachWhile this is good for easing snoring, it's bad for practically everything else. Seven percent of adults pick this pose, but it can lead to back and neck pain, since it's hard to keep your spine in a neutral position. Plus, stomach sleepers put pressure on their muscles and joints, possibly leading to numbness, tingling, aches, and irritated nerves. It's best to try to choose another position, but if you must sleep on your stomach, try lying facedown to keep upper airways open–instead of with your head turned to one side–with your forehead propped up on a pillow to allow room to breathe.