Sleep is one of the major restorative actions we can take toward regenerating our bodies and while it may seem simple to log more pillow time, quality of sleep is equally important.
Science journals are saturated with studies that show the connection between sleep, health and fat loss. Among many other things, adequate sleep is associated with decreased heart disease, better sports recovery, lower body fat, decreased risk for diabetes, easier muscle gains, reduced stress and increased sense of well-being.
Quality is just as important as quantity and while some may get eight to twelve hours every night, poor quality can severely hinder the positive change sleep provides.
Here are 8 tips for getting better sleep
1. Don’t use electronic devices at least 45 minutes before bed.
Your brain and body work on a series of impulses that dictate whether it’s time to sleep or wake up. These impulses and chemicals are released in response to environmental stimuli. Light piercing your eyeball us one of those stimuli. Staring at a tv, computer, iPad, cell phone, etc. is like taking a shot of espresso before bed.
2. Sleep in complete darkness
Yes, light in your eyes will cause signals to be sent to your brain that wake you up but the body is much more complex. Studies have also shown that even a pin-hole sized beam of light shined on the back of a person’s knee can cause disruptions in sleep patterns and may increase risk of diabetes. Pick up blinds that completely shut out light and get rid of night lights.
3. Hydrate and eat cruciferous vegetables
Do you wake up too pee in the middle of the night? That’s messing with your sleep. Night time peeing can be caused by a lot of things. One of these is malnutrition. You can get all the fat, carbs and protein you want but if the body lacks water and vitamins/minerals, it will have issues “detoxifying”, which it does mainly at night.
4. Create a routine
Sleep at the same time every night, this will help set your melatonin, and cortisol levels so that you can sleep better.
5. Try supplemental melatonin (option)
Lots of sleep aids in the world. All of them have side-effects except melatonin. Melatonin is a chemical secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and doubles as the hormone of sleep and powerful antioxidant. You can buy this over the counter in pill-form for those hard-to-sleep nights.
6. Reduce stress
Clear your mind, stop the wheels from spinning and unwind with your nightly ritual. Keep in mind that stimulants or depressants like alcohol or caffeine are to wise choices. These can disrupt sleep and remember…passing out is NOT SLEEP.
7. Have a little carb at night
Carbohydrates like bread and grain are better for dinner than they are for breakfast when it comes to sleep. Carbohydrate causes the body to increase its release of insulin from the pancreas which causes sugar and amino acids to be absorbed. Amino acids except for tryptophan. Tryptophan floats around and is changed into seratonin and melatonin (see above melatonin reference).
8. Put a pillow under your knees
If you’re a back sleeper, a pillow under your knees will help reduce tension in your spine and out your muscles at ease.
mayoclinic.com: sleep tips: 7 tips for better sleephttp://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sleep/HQ01387
Giuliana G.C., Derias N., et. Al. Melatonin in the treatment of chronic sleep disorders in adults with autism: a retrospective study; SWiSS Med Wkly 2009;139(19–20):293–296http://www.smw.ch/docs/pdfcontent/smw-12342.pdf
Do night shifts really ‘give you diabetes’?: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2012-04-12-do-night-shifts-really-give-you-diabetes/