Sleep—we all know we need it, yet, it’s the one thing we don’t mind sacrificing to have enough time in the day to do the things we need to do.
In order to make up for depriving our body of the rest it needs, we take the caffeine train straight to the nearest Starbucks, and throw down enough scratch for a Triple, Venti, Soy, No Foam Latte.
But coffee or no coffee, humans, just like other animals need sleep, along with food, water and oxygen to survive.
The average person spends more than a third of their life catching Z’s, so getting better sleep can be the difference in how you feel, look and perform on a daily basis.
More than 50 million Americans claim they don’t get enough shut-eye.
Yet the health benefits of a good night’s rest are countless: sleep keeps you happy, keeps you on point, and helps your immune system strong.
It also keeps your waistline trim, your skin looking youthful—and lowers your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
And although researchers can’t pinpoint an exact amount of sleep needed by people at different ages, The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults should get an average of 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
But sometimes the problem isn’t the length of time you carve out to sleep at night, but rather the quality of sleep that you get when you finally lay it down.
Today we’ll talk about 5 easy steps you can take to get the most out of your night of sleep.
You’re Eating Your Way To A Sleepless Night
While some foods can promote good sleep, others may contribute to insomnia. Having a Cup-of-Joe in the morning is cool for most of us, but after lunch, try to steer clear caffeine in your food and drinks.
Even the small amounts of caffeine found in chocolate can affect your slumber later that night.
Even some pain relievers and weight loss pills contain caffeine.
Some foods that will keep you tossing and turning at night include:
Sleep Killers - Fatty Foods
Foods high in fat take longer to digest, making your body hustle harder when it should be resting.
Fast food, red meat and cheesy dishes may keep you up at night and make you feel sluggish the next day.
Some foods are not high in fat in their natural state, but become high in fat when cooked in oil or butter or topped with salad dressing.
Eating these foods also increases your chances of feeling heartburn at night from gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Limit your daily fat intake, and you’ll have a sounder night’s sleep.
Sleep Killers - Food With High Calories
Large calorie filled meals slow down your digestion, which may lead to an uncomfortable feeling that keeps you wake up.
Eat small, nutritious, low-calorie meals throughout the day so that you’re not tempted to go too hard at night. at night.
Sleep Killers - Sugar and Spice
Sugar and spice aren’t as nice to your body before bed. Sugar converts to energy and fat, two things you don’t want before sleep.
Spicy foods are more likely to upset your stomach and cause indigestion. In menopausal women, spicy foods may also cause hot flashes at night.
Sleep Killers - Wine and Spirits
When it comes to sleep, alcohol can be a little deceiving. The Vodka Tonic you had while you were watching “Real Housewives” makes you sleepy, but it interferes with deep REM sleep, so you’re wakeful and restless later.
Some Snacks Are Better For Nighttime
In general, a small snack before bed is OK to have, but try to finish dinner at least two hours before bedtime so digestion and potential acid reflux don’t keep you up.
Incorporating these foods to your diet may help to increase your odds of a successful slumber:
Sleep Snacks - Salmon
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which new research from the University of Oxford links with better-quality sleep.
But try not to eat that fish too close to bedtime—it’s high in protein and digesting it may keep you up.
Sleep Snacks - Bananas
Bananas offer a trifecta of soothing components: magnesium, tryptophan and the hormone melatonin, which acts as your body’s natural sleep regulator.
Sleep Snacks - Milk
Just like grandma used to say—a glass of warm milk really can help you sleep. It contains tryptophan, as well as calcium, which helps your brain use that amino acid.
Sleep Snacks - Oatmeal
Eat a small bowl of oatmeal, it makes a good evening snack. It has sleep-inducing tryptophan. Get creative and add some sliced bananas and almonds, and you’ve got a formula that will have you in dreamland in no time.
Sleep Snacks - Almonds
Almonds contain magnesium, which helps relax your muscles, and the amino acid tryptophan, which increases the calming neurotransmitter serotonin.
“The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort!”
Don’t Let Working Out Work Against You
Although exercise is considered as a way to improve the quality of your sleep, in some cases it can make sleep more difficult.
If you are trying to sleep soon after your two hour gym sesh, you might be making things harder on yourself.
It takes the body a long time to calm down after working out.
Endorphins and other chemicals have been released to make you more alert and energetic.
Exercise can increase your core body temperature for four or five hours, and until it does, you’ll struggle to calm your body down enough to fall asleep.
A Little Fun In Bed Makes For Better Sleep
Much has been made recently about the health benefits of sex, one of which is better sleep.
Sex encourages the production of Oxytocin.
It helps you and your partner “bond,” in addition to inhibiting the release of the stress-inducing hormone cortisol.
Oxytocin’s ability to reduce our cortisol levels may create an overall feeling of relaxation and even sleepiness for some.
Additionally, for women, estrogen levels are known to increase after intercourse, “which can enhance a woman's REM cycle for a deeper sleep,” according to the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the Morehouse School of Medicine.
If you’re frustrated that your mate goes into comatose mode immediately after a night cap, you now have a better understanding of why, and may want to just join them instead.
"It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it."- John Steinbeck
Chill Out For Bedtime
When it comes to getting to sleep your smartphone and your TV are public enemy number one.
The screens you look at when working or playing on your laptop, desktop, tablet computer or smartphone all emit blue light. This blue-toned light tells your brain to suppress melatonin production.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your circadian rhythms by telling your body that it’s time to go to sleep.
The problem occurs when you decide to scroll through your IG feed or watch one more episode of Portlandia at 11:00 p.m.
This leaves your body confused because it’s registering the blue light as the light it’s used to seeing in the morning.
The best way the keep your devices from disturbing your internal clock is simple; put them away a couple of hours before bed. And if you’re restless, read a book or listen to music instead.
Another option you have is to find a good sleep aid.
But before test-driving a few sleep-inducing capsules you have to make sure that the supplement backed by scientific research.
Will it allow you to easily drift asleep and awake in the morning feeling rejuvenated, or will it leave you feeling groggy?
Well there's a sleep aid that I think checks off all the boxes, it’s called Sleep.
OptiMind Sleep helps calms your mind so you can easily drift asleep, and stabilizes your sleep cycle, so you wake up firing on all cylinders.
You only get one life, one body—why not feel great and live the best one you can. You’d be surprised how much better sleep will improve your quality of life.