When it comes to maintaining good overall health, quality sleep can be just as important as eating right or exercising regularly. A lack of sleep can lead to a wide range of health issues, from brain fog to hormonal imbalances and even weight gain. Because of this, doing what you can to optimize sleep can make a huge difference for your health, whether you're looking to lose some weight, want to improve your energy levels, or simply want to feel refreshed when you wake up in the mornings.
Eat the Right Foods
One way to help ensure better sleep at night is to eat foods that promote restfulness. Generally, a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as lean protein will be beneficial when it comes to promoting good sleep. Not only that, but diets high in sugar and refined carbs can disrupt your hormone balance and cause inflammation in your body, which can lead to poor sleep.
When it comes to healthy foods, there are some that are particularly good at promoting restfulness. Many nuts like almonds and walnuts are thought to have sleep promoting benefits due to their high mineral content, as well the high levels of healthy fats that walnuts in particular contain.
Bananas, cherries and tart cherry juice are also great for promoting sleep, as are fatty fish like tuna and salmon. Additionally, if you sometimes struggle to get all the nutrients you need out of your diet, trying a multivitamin or other sleep promoting supplements like super-food powder can be a good alternative.
Try Herbal Teas
Tea can be an energizing drink early in the day, particularly green and black tea. However, if you're looking to relax and calm down your nervous system before bedtime, herbal teas are the way to go.
One popular tea for promoting restfulness is chamomile, which contains significant levels of an antioxidant called apigenin. This antioxidant can bind to specific receptors in your brain, which can in turn promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia. Passionflower tea is another herbal tea well known for its relaxing qualities, some of which are due to its high levels of apigenin, like chamomile tea.
Stick To a Regular Schedule
Your body likes to stick to a schedule, and you can have a better chance of falling asleep easily if you go to bed around the same time every night. This is due in large part to your body's circadian rhythms, which run on set cycles and are tuned in to sunrise and sunset.
The more that you can follow along with your body's natural rhythms, the more likely you are to get deep and restful sleep. There is evidence that suggests that those who have irregular sleep schedules actually produce fewer of the hormones required to get good sleep, like melatonin, and have poorer quality of sleep as a result.
Although it may not be possible to go to bed at exactly the same time every night, going to bed within the same general time frame each night can still make a difference for your quality of sleep.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Many people feel like they can't get their day started without a cup of coffee, however, even though drinking coffee can give you the energy you need to get through your day, it can also keep you up at night, too. This is because it stimulates your nervous system, which can prevent your body from going into a restful state.
The good news is, though, that you don't have to cut out caffeine altogether, as long as you avoid it up to several hours before you plan to go to bed. Alcohol is another beverage that can be harmful to sleep patterns if consumed too much. A glass of wine can seem like a nice way to unwind at the end of the day, and it can be, as long as you don't overdo it.
Alcohol disrupts the function of many hormones that help you sleep, so drinking in moderation can be a good idea if you want to be able to nod off at bedtime.
Create a Comfortable Environment for Sleep
Your sleeping environment can play a big role in the quality of sleep that you get. If your bedroom is always brightly lit and noisy, it may be difficult for you to get the deep sleep you need to feel restored the next day.
This is also true if you have an uncomfortable bed, or a room that is too hot or too cold. If you find yourself unable to get comfortable in your room at night, taking steps to improve your sleeping environment can make a big difference. Some good changes to make can include getting new bedding, or a new bed, if it is old or uncomfortable.
Additionally, having room darkening curtains or a sleep mask can be good ways to block out light that could be waking you up.
Work Out Regularly
Regular exercise is not only great for losing weight or getting in better shape, but it can also be great for getting good sleep, too. There are many reasons why exercise can be beneficial for sleep, from stress reduction to promoting healthy hormone balance.
In fact, there is some evidence that suggests that working out can be more beneficial for treating insomnia than some medications. When it comes to working out to promote better sleep, the kind of workouts you do often does not play as big of a role as when you choose to do them. While exercise is great for promoting better sleep, if you workout too late at night it could actually keep you awake, because exercise stimulates the nervous system and heats up the body.
Take Time To Unwind
What you do right before bed can often have a direct impact on how well you sleep. Because of this, taking time to unwind and do something relaxing an hour before bed can have a lot of benefits, and can make it easier for you to slip into deep and restful sleep.
Some good ways to unwind can include reading a book, journaling, meditating, or taking a soothing bath. No matter what you choose to do before you go to bed, having a calming nightly ritual can be a good way to signal to your brain that it's time to sleep.
The Final Word
When it comes to your overall health, getting enough quality sleep can be just as important as eating a healthy diet or exercising. Lack of sleep can do many damaging things to your health, from reducing your mental clarity to causing weight gain.
If you want to feel your best, finding ways to optimize your sleep by doing things like eating sleep-promoting foods and taking some time to relax before you go to bed can help you get the rest you need.
Insomnia is a condition that affects 50 to 70 million Americans and countless more millions of people around the globe. It’s one of the most common chronic conditions experienced by adults, and it’s one that can cause serious damage to your short-term and long-term health.
While the causes of insomnia vary, there is hope for sufferers.
Treatments, including natural supplements and lifestyle changes, make it possible to increase your sleep length and quality while also making it easier for you to fall asleep at night.
That’s not to say that medical intervention isn’t always necessary, as many insomniacs do need the help of a physician to properly treat their condition. However, there are many methods you can try – either alone or alongside the recommendations of your doctor – that can help to make a world of difference in your sleep quality and your overall health and well-being.
If you are suffering from any sleep disorder, including Insomnia, call our board-certified sleep specialists today at Alaska Sleep Clinic. Also, click the link below to download our FREE e-book about Insomnia.