Sleeping well directly affects your mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep can take a serious toll on your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight. Yet, many of us regularly toss and turn at night, struggling to get the sleep we need.
Getting a good night’s sleep may seem impossible when you’re wide awake at 3 a.m., but you have much more control over the quality of your sleep than you probably realize. Just as the way you feel during your waking hours often hinges on how well you sleep at night, so the cure for sleep difficulties can often be found in your daily routine.
Unhealthy daytime habits and lifestyle choices can leave you tossing and turning at night and adversely affect your mood, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and weight. But by experimenting with the following tips, you can enjoy better sleep at night, boost your health, and improve how you think and feel during the day.
1. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. This helps set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. Choose a bed time when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock, you may need an earlier bedtime.
2. Avoid sleeping in—even on weekends. The more your weekend/weekday sleep schedules differ, the worse the jetlag-like symptoms you’ll experience. If you need to make up for a late night, opt for a daytime nap rather than sleeping in. This allows you to pay off your sleep debt without disturbing your natural sleep-wake rhythm.
3. Be smart about napping. While napping is a good way to make up for lost sleep, if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, napping can make things worse. Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
4. Start the day with a healthy breakfast. Among lots of other health benefits, eating a balanced breakfast can help sync up your biological clock by letting your body know that it’s time to wake up and get going. Skipping breakfast on the other hand, can delay your blood sugar rhythms, lower your energy, and increase your stress, factors that may disrupt sleep.
5. Fight after-dinner drowsiness. If you get sleepy way before your bedtime, get off the couch and do something mildly stimulating, such as washing the dishes, calling a friend, or getting clothes ready for the next day. If you give in to the drowsiness, you may wake up later in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep.
6. Avoid screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is especially disruptive. You can minimize the impact by using devices with smaller screens and turning the brightness down.
7. Say no to late-night television. Not only does the light from a TV suppress melatonin, but many programs are stimulating rather than relaxing. Try listening to music or audio books instead.
8. Don’t read with backlit devices. Tablets that are backlit are more disruptive than e-readers that don’t have their own light source.
9. When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. Use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try a sleep mask. Also consider covering up electronics that emit light.
10. Keep the lights down if you get up during the night. If you need some light to move around safely, try installing a dim nightlight in the hall or bathroom or using a small flashlight. This will make it easier for you to fall back to sleep.
11. Take Magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral required by the body for muscle and nerve function, maintaining heart rhythm, building strong bones and energy production. The secretion and action of insulin also requires magnesium.
Fruits high in magnesium include dried figs, avocados, guavas, bananas, kiwi fruit, papayas, blackberries, raspberries, cantaloupes, and grapefruit. The daily value (%DV) for magnesium 420mg per day.
Foods high in magnesium include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Lima beans
- Black beans
- Peanut Butter
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
- Dark chocolate
12. Try Alternative Therapies. Acupuncture can work well to addresses imbalances of energies in the body or treat certain organs that might be waking you up at night. Osteopathy and Massage Therapy can also work in different ways to reset or calm your sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system to help your body return to homeostasis so you can relax better in bed.
With a few little changes you can experience better sleep and better overall health!