According to the CDC, 35% of Americans are not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep per night.
That is over 1/3 of the American population. And, that’s a big problem! Considering that sleep and rest are vital for so many of our bodies functioning, it’s no wonder that health concerns are on a rise.
This is not all due to a lack of willpower or a desire to stay up late. Western culture and environmental factors significantly plays a role in Americans finding it harder and harder to get the amount of sleep that they need. Not only are they getting less sleep, but the quality of sleep has been greatly impaired.
Why Is Sleep Important?
In the past, sleep was not emphasized and doctors often disregarded the importance of it. Now, studies have shown that those who get less than 6 to 7 hours of sleep a night are at more risk for diseases. Here’s why-
Sleep may help you:
- Keep your heart healthy
- Help prevent cancer
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce stress
- Make you more alert
- Improve your memory
- Help you lose weight
- Reduce your risk of depression
- Help the body heal itself
- More energy
More (Quality) Sleep Now
You know that you need more sleep, but how do you do that? With all your responsibilities, late-night activities, and 8:00 pm dinners, how do you get the right amount of shut-eye?
It might be as simple as how you are setting up your day!
5 Tips For More Sleep Success
1.Setting a nightly routine. We as humans love routine. As much as spontaneity may be fun for awhile, routines allow us to focus on other areas that need more thinking and they prime the brain to expect a certain behavior or expectation will follow. It’s all about conditioning ourselves to set ourselves up for success. Your nightly routine may differ from the next person. The key is to find a way that creates relaxation and a winding down for the day — conditioning the brain to say “hey, it is time for bed.” Setting a specific time that you begin your night routine, rather than leaving it to “when you feel like it,” is essential. I recommend starting your night routine 1-1.5 hours before you want to fall asleep. That is the one tip that will be the most common for all of us. After that, it is really about personal preference. You could read a book, drink a cup of tea, listen to soft and soothing music. You could talk about your gratitude of the day with your partner (see tip #4) or brain dump your to-do list for the next day — whatever is relaxing to you. The key with your nightly routine is have it support your bedroom environment (see tip #3). This means that limiting your exposure to blue light and electronic devices is highly encouraged.
2.Supplements. There are many supplements that have evidence-based research supporting the effectiveness to sleep.
- Melatonin is a key sleep hormone that signals your brain when it’s time to relax and head to bed. Start with a low dose to assess your tolerance, and then increase it slowly as needed. Since melatonin may alter brain chemistry, it is advised that you check with a medical professional before use. Take around 1–5 mg, 30–60 minutes before bed.
- Ashwagandha leaves could potentially be useful for insomnia therapy.
- Ginkgo biloba is a natural herb with many benefits. It can aid in sleep, relaxation and stress reduction. Take 250 mg, 30–60 minutes before bed.
- Glycine is an amino acid that can improve sleep quality. It has been shown in studies that 3 grams is effective.
- Valerian root is shown to help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality. Take 500 mg before bed.
- Magnesium is responsible for over 600 reactions within the body. One of the most well known is how it can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality.
- L-Theanine is an amino acid that can improve relaxation and sleep. Take 100–200 mg before heading to bed.
- Lavender is a powerful plant-based supplement with many health benefits. It can induce calming and relaxed effects to improve sleep. Take 80–160 mg or diffuse the oil in the air.
3.Set your bedroom environment. Setting your bedroom environment to promote deep sleep and relaxation can be exactly what the doctor called for. This can include factors such as temperature, noise, furniture choice and arrangement, and external lights. Numerous studies have shown that external noise, often from traffic, can cause poor sleep and long-term health issues. What can you do? To optimize your bedroom environment, try to:
- Minimize external noise
- Eliminate light and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks (put a towel over them)
- Turn down the temperature. Test different temperatures to find out which is most comfortable for you. Around 70°F/20°C seems comfortable for most people
- Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean and enjoyable place
- Limit your exposure to blue light by keeping your smartphone out of the room (or totally turning it off so texts or calls don’t wake you up) and keeping the television off (or removing it completely)
4.Visualizations or gratitude work. Visualizing and gratitude work are helpful when working on goals and enhancing your life and your happiness. But this doesn’t stop there. Visualizing moments that make you happy or reflecting on the areas in your life that you were grateful for help to decrease cortisol levels and increase the feel good hormones. They are an overall stress reducer. This is important for good quality sleep because the less worry you have, the more your body can relax and fall asleep. Happiness and decreased stress are also associated with inner peace. The more inner peace you feel, the easier it is to fall asleep and stay asleep. Gratitude cannot exist in an angry state. The simple act of reflecting on what makes you happy and grateful, increases the inner peace and love within you, making it much easier to get the sleep you’re looking for.
5.Eat more carbs a few hours before bedtime.
Serotonin is best known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter and it improves mood and provides a sense of calm. When serotonin is elevated at night it enables restful sleep. It just so happens that eating carbs is necessary for the body to synthesize serotonin. Let’s not stop there! There’s a second way that having carbs at night can help you sleep. In addition to raising serotonin, carbs help lower the stress hormone cortisol, which can inhibit sleep when it is elevated at night. Which carbs should you eat at night? Whole food, complex carbs such as starchy vegetables, beans, and (pseudo)grains — brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, etc — are good choices. The key is to stay away from refined and processed carbs such as bread, crackers, cookies, ice cream, etc.
There are many things you can do to help create a higher quality sleep. These are 5 powerful tips that can be exactly what you need!
Did you know that stress ages you? Here is my morning routine to slow the aging process (and make you happier and more energetic!). Click the link below!
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