Sometimes it seems that no matter what we do, there is one piece of the health puzzle that alludes us: sleep. With the rise of addictive technology, easy-to-binge TV shows, and schedules that keep pushing bedtime later and later - it's no wonder that insomnia is a bigger problem than ever.
Doctors and nutritionists agree that getting a full night of quality sleep is just as important as eating healthfully and exercising each day. But what if you are terrible at getting a good nights sleep?
7 Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Leave the phone outside your bedroom.
If you're tempted to scroll through your Instagram feed while lying in bed, make a new rule: no smartphones in the bedroom. The blue light emitted from phone screens triggers our brains that its time to wake-up, not go to sleep. Use your phone as an alarm? It might be time to get an actual alarm clock.
Make time for a morning meditation.
Some studies have shown that meditation first thing in the morning is a great way to promote good sleep at night. The reasoning behind this is that the brain will connect waking with a relaxing routine. Because you have less stress upon waking, it will create a calmer atmosphere around sleep. Worth a shot, right?
Don't exercise too late.
Your body naturally lowers its temperature to prepare for sleep. Exercise, if you're doing it right, makes you sweat! If you want to catch some high-quality zzz's, don't raise your body temperature just before snoozing.
Avoid certain foods at bedtime.
Foods high in saturated fat and sugar can disrupt the natural sleep cycle, so plowing through pizza and ice cream does even more damage than you might realize. Heavy amounts of protein and fat take a lot of energy to break down, so avoiding eating a big steak close to bedtime is also a good idea.
Consuming other foods may help support sleep!
Tart cherry juice contains anti-inflammatory properties and melatonin, the hormone that regulates wakefulness and sleep. Kiwi contains the healthy brain chemical serotonin, which is connected to healthy sleep. Pistachios contain a lot of magnesium, a mineral that helps reduce stress and calm the body and mind.
Replace your pillow, and maybe even your bed.
Often we don't even realize when our sleep problem is rooted in discomfort. Depending on circumstances, its recommended that most mattresses are replaced every 7-10 years. It may be time for a new one! For a less-expensive solution, seek out a pillow that's more supportive for the type of sleeper you are.
Consider sleeping alone, if possible.
If you're constantly awakened by a partner that snores, or that goes to bed / wakes up at different hours and disrupts your sleep, consider sleeping in separate beds if you can. Couples that sleep alone are more likely to snooze uninterrupted. Save co-sleeping for days you can sleep in, and enjoy it as a treat!
Making your sleep hours as important as your waking hours is a vital cornerstone of overall health. By creating some new habits around bedtime, you can start getting the best sleep of your life!
[Credit: Greatist. A to ZZZs: What to Do When You Suck at Sleeping.]