Eight Ways to Get Better Sleep

You need to get enough sleep, but you also need to get good, deep, uninterrupted sleep. Getting the proper amount (on average, experts recommend 7 – 9 hours) of the right kind of sleep has countless benefits like boosting immunity, keeping your metabolism revved, and even improving your skin–just to name a few. Integrate expert-recommended tips into your nighttime regimen and you’ll be drooling on your pillow in no time, Sleeping Beauty. 

Disconnect 
We’re obviously more connected than ever. While being able to check your emails while cuddled warmly in bed definitely has its benefits, it’s important to set a time to disconnect long before you need to be drifting off to sleep. Staring at a bright screen right before trying to adjust to a dark room keeps your mind awake and active when what you really need to be doing is winding down. 

Sleep with your phone away from your bed, too. “A 2007 study found that radiation from mobile phones delays your ability to reach the deeper stages of sleep,” explains Internist Andrea Ruman, MD. “This radiation may also activate your brain’s stress system, making you more alert and thus making it more difficult for you to wind down and fall asleep.” 

TOTAL Darkness
Apart from turning your phone off, be sure to have closed light-blocking curtains and turn off your TV and anything else emitting light (or have one hell of a good eye mask). “Make sure that your room is dark to facilitate your body’s melatonin to rise and induce sleep,” Registered Dietitian Jacqueline Aizen recommends. 

Studies have also found that exposure to dim light throughout the night (such as that from a TV or laptop screen) is linked to increased symptoms of depression. 

Best Sleep Temperature
A slight drop in body temperature helps induce sleep. But if your room is too cold, or too warm, it’s going to have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep. Play around to find the most comfortable room temperature for you (considering the blankets you’ll have over you). This might be, on average, somewhere between 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Silence
It’s obvious that noise can prevent you from falling asleep, cause you to wake up throughout the night and keep you from getting deep sleep. So take proactive measures to do something about it. Perhaps this means using earplugs (we find that the silicon ones work best) and/or using a fan or other device to create white noise. You want your room dark, cool and dead silent.

Caffeine Interference 
There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning due to an afternoon latte. To avoid the frustration, Aizen suggests limiting coffee to one 8 fluid ounce cup in the morning. And don’t forget to set a deadline for when you can stop consuming caffeinated beverages like soda, tea and energy drinks. 

“Each person metabolizes caffeine differently, which means it may stay in your body longer than someone else,” explains Aizen. 

Monitor how your caffeine intake is affecting your sleep and back up the time you stop consuming it until you feel that you are able to fall asleep without frustration. And don’t forget, you can always go decaf if you have an afternoon coffee craving (though note that almost all decaf coffee still contains some small amount of caffeine–so go easy on it). 

Pre-Bedtime Relaxation 
Think of bedtime as an important part of your schedule. Try to go to sleep the same time each night and wake up the same time each morning. Take your relaxation seriously by planning out your day so you’re not doing strenuous exercise two hours before bedtime and not indulging in heavy meals less than three hours before sleeping (your digestion slows down as your body gets ready to fall asleep and even a moderate amount just before bed may keep you awake or prevent you from getting into deep sleep). 

Before hitting the sheets, treat yourself to a warm, relaxing bath with peaceful music. Light some aromatherapy candles and try to calm your thoughts. Sound too idealistic? At least try deep breathing or a few minutes of meditation just before bed to get you calmer.

If you’re feeling particularly stressed, try journaling or writing down what’s weighing heavy on your mind. Sometimes just getting out your stress on paper can help clear your mind and put you at peace. 

Limit Alcohol 
You might be tempted to ease into sleep with a nightcap, but resist. While alcohol can make you feel sleepy and sometimes help you doze off, you won’t stay asleep for long. Studies show that alcohol causes women to have more disturbed sleep, wake up more often, have more trouble falling back asleep, and sleep for overall less time.
You don’t necessarily have to skip Happy Hour, but go easy and make sure the alcohol is out of your system before hitting the sack.

Sleep Apnea 
If you still aren’t feeling rested after a full night’s sleep, consider paying a visit to your doctor to see if you should be referred to a sleep specialist. Sleep apnea, a disorder involving abnormal pauses in breathing or abnormally low breathing instances during sleep, is actually incredibly common, but those who suffer often don’t even know it. 

“People with sleep apnea may be totally unconscious for 10 hours and won’t understand why they are not feeling rested,” explains Dr. Thalia Farshchian, naturopathic doctor. 

A common sleep study would be needed to diagnose why your rest is being disrupted. Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, your physician should be able to pinpoint exactly what is causing you to lose precious hours of beauty sleep.  

You can’t expect to slay your to-do list or genuinely enjoy social time when your energy levels are waning; so do yourself a favor and make a good night’s sleep a top priority. \

Information from: http://www.chickrx.com/articles/eight-ways-to-get-better-sleep

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