Catching More Zzzzzz’s

Here’s something we could all probably use more of – sleep!  Admittedly, this is one area of health where I often come up short. I have a lot of difficulty falling asleep and usually cannot function properly in the morning until I’ve had a cup of coffee! Although I eat well, exercise regularly, and avoid caffeine consumption prior to going to bed, I think there are still a few lifestyle changes I could make that would help my sleeping habits.  Here are a few tips to help you sleep better, courtesy of Best Health magazine. I’m going to have to try some of these!

  1. Make a date with your friends. Huh? That was my initial reaction. How could making a date with friends possibly help my sleeping habits? Well, studies conducted at the University of California have shown that women who have healthy friendships tend to sleep better. When we’re stressed, we tend to seek out our girlfriends for support. Having a “bestie” to vent to helps decrease cortisol levels – a stress chemical in our bodies – thus allowing us to rest easier!
  2. Exercise.  On average, exercise can apparently reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep by 12 minutes and increase your total sleep time by 42 minutes.  A word of caution – be mindful of when you are exercising. Engaging in physical activity shortly before going to bed might actually prevent you from falling asleep. Try to squeeze your exercise in at least 3 hours before going to bed.
  3. Snack on cookies and milk. Now THIS I can do! According to Mary Susan Esther, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the tryptophan in milk will help you feel sleepy, but carbs are required in order to get it to go to your brain. Choose low-fat cookies and [try to] eat them in moderation!
  4. Keep a stress journal. Sit down a couple of hours before bed and make a list of the things that are stressing you out. Try to write a solution or plan beside each stressor. If any of these stressors arise in your mind while you’re trying to fall asleep, just remind yourself that you have a plan to deal with them and they can wait until tomorrow.
  5. Drink water. No coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or other caffeinated beverages within 6 to 10 hours of bedtime! Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a chemical that makes you feel sleepy. Craving a hot drink? Try hot water with a spritz of lemon!
  6. Chill out before bed. Literally. A cooler bedroom temperature will help you sleep better.
  7. Give yourself 1-hour to ‘take a breath’. Stop what you’re doing and BREATHE . No answering e-mails, doing housework, or surfing Facebook. Chances are whatever it is you’re working on can probably wait until the morning anyways. Allow yourself 1 hour right before bed to wind down and relax. Perhaps try doing some pre-bedtime yoga poses!
  8. Develop a consistent bedtime routine. This means maintaining the routine over weekends. That’s right, no sleeping in! Although catching up on sleep feels great at the time, it just makes it more difficult to wake up early for work on Monday. This is something I definitely need to work on. I feel so tired at the end of the week that I allow myself to sleep in until noon on weekends!

– Be Well, and Sleep Tight 😉

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