5 Easy Steps to Improving Your Sleep

July 15, 2015   |   21 Comments   |   1

Have you noticed that people are becoming busier and busier? Maybe your days have become even more full with work life, family life, social networking, streaming digital TV and any other number of things. Do you find that in order to pack all of these activities into each day… your sleep takes a hit? Or do you find at the end of the day you just can’t shut your mind off enough to drift off to sleep?

We’ve all known those people who swear they can “get by” on little sleep and still feel and perform fine. But some of the clues of sleep deprivation, such as headaches and trouble focusing, can be shrugged off or passed off as related to something else.

The truth is, sleep deprivation can lead to more severe health issues, and even life-threatening ones. Though more research needs to be done, what has been conducted already has linked a consistent lack of sleep with the following conditions:

Obesity

If you find you’ve been binging late at night on cookies and ice cream, it’s not because you’re a bad person who makes crappy food choices (although we’ve never personally met you), it’s more likely due to the fact that when you are deficient on sleep, your body’s two appetite hormones get out of whack.

Leptin, the hormone that controls our appetite, is diminished and ghrelin, the hormone that makes you want to eat and eat, increases. Essentially, the more ghrelin swimming through your system, the more you want to eat and eat.

There is also the aspect of not having enough energy to exercise that links sleep deprivation with obesity.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Lack of sleep also causes more stress hormones to be released into your systems, and over time, these can really wreak havoc on your heart. Stress hormones can damage blood vessels which can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn, can lead to heart disease and stroke.

If you’re someone who already suffers from hypertension, sleep deprivation can make it worse. Lack of sleep actually activates the nervous system in a particular way which can have even stronger effects on those with high blood pressure. If you’re a man, the news is even more grim. If you are sleep deprived, either due to too few hours in the day or sleep apnea, you have an increased risk for heart disease and death.

Diabetes

In 2007, researchers from the University of Chicago found that “partial sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes via multiple pathways.” It’s not just that the body plays with the level of appetite hormones, but that the body becomes impaired and cannot handle glucose loads.

Depression

Did you know that the chemicals in your brain responsible for the sleep-wake cycle are also involved in defining your mood? Scientists aren’t sure of the exact mechanics of it all, but they know the link is there. Too little sleep night after night has the ability to make a person become very depressed.

Decrease in Neurological Functions

Sleep deprivation has been linked to various types of neurological functions. For example, lack of sleep makes driving dangerous as you lack full attention and reaction times are slower. Kids will perform poorly on tests if they haven’t slept well the night before, and employees become irritable to their co-workers.

As you can see, not all of these conditions are a result of years and years of sleep deprivation. Some, like delayed reactions times, glucose load, hormone imbalances and depression can begin after just one night of sleeping less than six hours.

With this in mind, here are 5 easy steps to improving your sleep:

1. Eat Foods with Melatonin

The CDC recommends that we avoid big, heavy meals before bed, but if you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep, it’s a good idea to snack on foods that provide melatonin, the chemical our bodies secrete at night to makes us sleepy.

Foods like cherries, tomatoes, rice, walnuts, olives and milk can all give us a melatonin boost.

2. Listen to Music

You probably already know how relaxed you can feel when you listen to music (unless you’re listening to metal or punk). Studies in the Journal of Advanced Nursing suggest that music is a wonderful way to help you fall asleep. So the next time you find yourself tossing and turning, grab your iPod and listen to something soft and calming and see if you’re not lulled to dreamland.

3. Aromatherapy

Not everyone has embraced aromatherapy and that’s too bad because studies have shown certain scents have the power to relieve insomnia. For instance, according to studies in the journal Chronobiology International, aromatic wafts of lavender offer relief to those who struggle to fall asleep each night.

And, according to the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine , the scents of chamomile and ylang-ylang may also induce sleepiness. The irony is that people who have gone too long without sleep start to lose their ability to identify different scents.

4. Turn Down Your Heat

A study in the journal La Presse Medicale suggest that people sleep better when the temperature is between 61 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit. When we sleep our core body temperature drops but the temperature in our hands and feet rises when our blood vessels dilate and radiate heat outward. So, turn down your heat and see if you don’t fall asleep faster and easier. The best part is, you’ll also save on heating bills.

5. Try Repetitive Motion

Ever wonder why babies get rocked to sleep, or why adults sleep better on trains? It’s because repetitive motion helps us relax and drift off. You can create your own repetitive motion by curling and uncurling your toes (no really, try it), or contracting and releasing any other muscle groups in your legs, arms or abdomen.

Though the ramifications of getting too little sleep are obvious and oftentimes serious, you shouldn’t lose sleep over it. Try these sleep aid tricks the next time you’re having trouble falling off and see if they don’t work like a charm.

If you can think of any more sleep aid tricks… Please share in the comments below!

 

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21 Comments

  1. TL Wood

    May 23, 2017 Reply

    I use a clock radio with RED digits, it doesn't interfere with the body's circadian cycles (blue and green do). And if I happen to half-wake as I turn over, I make a concerted effort to keep eyes shut and NOT look at the clock-- my mind starts spinning with issues I'll face when I get up, spoiling the remainder of my sleep time. I can usually drift off again until the alarm sounds. It doesn't really matter what time it is, does it? IT'S MY SLEEP TIME! My hubby reluctantly admitted that it works for him, too. He was so sure it wouldn't! : )

  2. Ernie White

    June 25, 2016 Reply

    we sleep best in total dark room

  3. Ernie White

    June 25, 2016 Reply

    I am not much on answering question !
    I work a 40 hour week. I am 73 years of age. I don't get all the sleep I need.
    The time is 0200 2a.m. CDT...
    I do read your e-mails. Some I even ask my wife to read or I forward them to her.
    I like to read them too!
    Ernie White
    St. Louis, MO.

  4. Ben

    May 30, 2016 Reply

    Wonderful article. Thanks and keep it rolling.

  5. Ernesto skunca

    March 4, 2016 Reply

    Very good advine.

  6. Helena

    December 30, 2015 Reply

    A number of years ago my husband suffered a brain injury and was having a great deal of difficulty falling asleep. He purchased CD's which recorded the sounds of the ocean.
    It worked like a charm. He fell asleep quickly. The only drawback was these sounds
    had me up using the bathroom every 20 or 30 minutes

  7. Obasi

    December 28, 2015 Reply

    Great article, you can also add reading a good book while you are on bed, you will not know when you dose off. Thanks

  8. Mark

    December 16, 2015 Reply

    Here's a couple more:
    Remember when you were a kid and couldn't stay awake if you wanted to -- in the back of a moving vehicle? It was the rocking motion and engine+road vibration. So...
    * There are bed vibrators you can buy and add on, or if you're mechanically inclined you can make your own. Some are basically loud speaker that play the 50/60Hz power line signal, others are motors that spin weights.
    * Anything that can rock your bed without you doing it works as well. This is mostly a DIY project. You can mount the legs on springs, suspend the bedframe from an overhang or suspend it from the ends, like a hammock. And it also works with vibrators.

    * If none of these things works, see a doctor at once. I lost my wife to a sleeping disease. For this, drugs are justified, even if they only help a little. If you don't have a serious health problem, -do- -not- -use- -sleep- -aids- -beyond- -a- -few- -nights-!!
    After a week or two of consistent use, all drugs including alcohol actually interfere with sleep. The most effective and least addictive I've found is Dramamine -- the stuff they sell for motion sickness. It's strong, acts quick, and is out of your system in about 4 hours so it won't leave you drowsy the next day or interfere with your ability to wake up and deal with emergencies in the middle of your night.

    • Hamza

      January 4, 2016 Reply

      Brilliant tips there Mark, thank you so much for sharing! :)

  9. Mark

    December 16, 2015 Reply

    * Number one way to avoid sleeplessness: Don't be born with a high strung nervous system! It's too late for me, saver yourselves...

    * Install bedroom lights that are red, orange or yellow;
    Green, blue, violet and ultraviolet light destroy the melatonin that controls sleep.
    Red LEDs are okay, but all other colors and all flourescents produce UV.

    * Read a legal document or very dry textbook. Try a college level statistics textbook.
    If that doesn't put you to sleep before you can finish the first few chapters,
    at least you can get a good paying job!
    Disclaimer: does not work for mathophiles or legal eagles.

    * Meditating does not have to actually empty your mind, only crowd out your troubles. Try designing something you'd like to make. If you like music, try to imagine the sound a new song that's never been heard. If you can do that and not fall asleep before it's done, find someone who can get it published!

    * Tell yourself a bed time story. Example:
    See yourself standing next to a hot looking car, looking down a smooth road that runs straight off the horizon under an amber setting sun under rapidly gathering dark clouds and a cool breeze carrying the smell of impending rain.
    Getting in, shutting the door, and turning the ignition awakens the stirring beast under the hood, and a couple dozens sparks of light and faint glowing screens come alive. The pressure sinking you into the seat quickly blurs the dotted line into a nearly solid line and the line poles are going by like a picket fence. The sky starts to flash and the rolling thunder adds dubstep to your favorite music.
    Can you hear it? Can you see it? Sit back, relax, and let the klicks go by.
    You've got A-L-L night!

  10. Debi T

    September 24, 2015 Reply

    I'm going to try the repetitive motion. It sounds interesting. I've done the aromatherapy, I sleep in a cool room (my air conditioner is going 24/7 right now and during the winter my window is open 24/7), I listen to the sounds of the ocean and rain, and before I go to bed I enjoy a large glass of milk but I will also be adding a few others like maybe some cherries, or olives. Great article, thanks :)

    • Hamza

      September 25, 2015 Reply

      You're very welcome Debi :)

  11. Cindy Doering

    September 18, 2015 Reply

    Meditate in bed @ bedtime to help you fall asleep. It brings peace & calm.

    • Hamza

      September 21, 2015 Reply

      Great advice Cindy, thanks! :)

  12. Lina

    September 18, 2015 Reply

    A nice warm bath in Miracle II Soap & Neutralizer makes me sleep like a baby and helps heal me & raise my pH @same time--more oxygen---and using my sound machine. I like the ocean and thunderstorm sounds .

  13. Bob Lucian

    September 18, 2015 Reply

    Excellent Article... Keep em coming....
    Bob

    • Hamza

      September 21, 2015 Reply

      Will do Bob, thanks!

  14. Olukunle Olumuyiwa

    September 18, 2015 Reply

    This article is simply riveting!

  15. Ayoola

    September 17, 2015 Reply

    This is nice so interesting keep it real, God bless you more.

  16. kay Newell

    July 15, 2015 Reply

    turn OFF your bright lights, Halogen, high wattage, LED lights are are wake up and go-go lights.
    Neodymium, soft low level lights, moon yellow lights or even soft colored bulbs like blue, green or red lights can say to you Nite-nite.
    Makr your bathroom and bed room at night a low level light area. You do not need much light to brush your teeth, wash your face or shower. A light on a timer is a good way to tell a child or adult -sleeo time.
    Gping to bed and sleep at the same times helps a lot
    The Lightbulb lady..

    • Hamza

      July 16, 2015 Reply

      This is absolutely brilliant information, thank you Kay AKA The Lightbulb Lady :)

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