Adequate sleep is one of the most important aspects of living a healthy life. It helps us with many things including repairing and building muscle after exercise, improving memory and retaining things we have learned, curbing inflammation throughout the body, fighting off oncoming illness, regulating body weight and helping keep us from putting on body fat, the list goes on!
With all of these benefits, it is easy to see just how important sleep is. We need sleep and when we don’t get it we are left under-recovered, cranky, and long-term sleep deprivation can put us at risk for some serious health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke (1).
Lots of us struggle with getting good sleep, including myself.
Here are five things I have put into practice that have helped me to get better sleep:
1. No screens of any kind one-hour before bed. The blue light from phones, computers, etc. stimulates humans, which in return keeps us up and prevents us from being able to fall a sleep when we lay down for the night. (Taking it one step further, no phones in the bedroom should be everyone’s rule.)
2. Complete darkness in your room. Try black out shades, they work wonders.
3. No caffeine at least 6 hours before bed, I think shooting for 8 is better. The half-life of caffeine is about 6 hours. So a coffee with 200mg of caffeine at 2pm leaves you with 100mg of caffeine still in your system by 8pm. People that claim they can drink coffee and go right to sleep are having their sleep thrown off by the caffeine even if they do not realize it. If you are one of those people, try this out and you will see what good sleep really is!
4. Magnesium is a great sleep aid. It helps relax muscles and has been shown to also lower cortisol, our stress hormone.
5. Take vitamin D! If you are not already supplementing with it, because we live in Minnesota, I can almost guarantee you have a vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of vitamin D have been shown to cause sleep disorders, insomnia, light sleeping, etc. (2) Further, vitamin D deficiency has been show to cause a host of health issues outside of sleep, we should all be supplementing with Vitamin D as people who do not get sun 7-8 months out of the year.
I hope this helps. I know how frustrating bad sleep can be. Try to implement these and see if they help you out! They have all worked for me.
I use a sunrise alarm clock that I really love. You set your time to wake up and it will slowly increase the light intensity as it leads up to your waking time. It is a great way to simulate being woken by the rising sun, which is most natural for our bodies, when you room is completely dark from your black out shades. They are also awesome because they slowly bring you out of your sleep, opposed to being jolted awake by an annoying siren from your alarm. You can find them relatively cheap on amazon, here, or at any department store.
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