Did you know people who limit their sleep to roughly 5 hours a night greatly increase their chances for obesity and other illnesses? I know first-hand that when I don’t sleep well or long enough, my energy levels plummet, my body feels weak and my cravings for junk food sky rocket. Have you experienced this too?
To make sure you are getting a solid night’s sleep, try these “10 Tips to Get the Best Sleep Ever” outlined in BeachBody‘s most recent newsletter:
- Exercise. Exercise won’t just help you get fit, it’ll help you sleep better. When you exercise, you increase your internal body temperature. According to Professor Jim Horne, who runs the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, the post-workout cooling down process makes you sleepier, given that right before sleep, your body expels heat to help you shut down. Interestingly, exercising outside in the cold isn’t as beneficial because it’s a zero-sum gain, heat-wise(3).
- Quiet the Noise. If you live only a thin wall away from neighbors (or a partner who snores!), excess noise is keeping you from getting quality rest. A pair of $3 drug store earplugs can eliminate outside and inside noise and help you feel more rested in the morning.
- Get Great Lighting. According to Dr. Phyllis C. Zee, associate director at the Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology, Northwestern University School of Medicine, light has an enormous effect on circadian rhythms—your body’s daily physiological clock(4). Too much exposure to light before bed can keep your body from entering a restful state and may prevent you from remaining asleep for long enough. Keep lights dim at night and don’t sleep with the light on. You may even consider wearing an eye mask as one Chinese study found that earplugs and eye masks worn during sleep increases the levels of melatonin produced in the body(5). Or, you could invest in blackout curtains. These curtains are specifically designed to reduce noise by up to 40%, block out 99% of light, and help you save up to 25% on home heating and cooling costs.
- Take a Bath. As is also the case with exercise, once you leave the bath your internal temperature cools down, giving your body the hint that it’s time to catch some ZZZs. Furthermore, hot water relieves tension and the pressure that gravity places on the joints and muscles.
- Ban the Electronics. You may love watching Netflix® in your boxers, but according to The National Sleep Foundation, electronics are a no-go in the bedroom. Just like overhead lighting, the glow of your iPad®, laptop, or the TV messes with your circadian rhythms. Your best bet is to teach your brain to associate your bed with sleep . . . and maybe sex, but that’s a topic for a different article.
- Time Your Caffeine. Caffeinated beverages can hinder sleep for up to 6 hours after you drink them(6). On the other hand, foods containing the amino acid tryptophan increase your serotonin levels and serve as a natural sedative(7). Foods high in tryptophan include red meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, soybeans, tuna, shellfish, and turkey. So gobble them up if you want to get totally “trypt” out.
- Have a Drink. Try this ancient ayurvedic recipe: warm milk, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of cardamom(8). Milk contains tryptophan, which, as stated earlier in this article, is a great sleep aid. This is why so many folk remedies include warm milk. Try it out, you will feel like a sleep bug snug in a rug.
- Set a Bedtime. Researchers from Minnesota’s University of St. Thomas conducted a study on college students with inconsistent weekend sleeping habits(9). Subjects who pulled all-nighters on Saturday or Sunday found it difficult to sleep the rest of the week. Your brain needs consistency. You create patterns of sleep just like you acquire all of your good and bad habits. In fact, a consistent bedtime can help you train your brain to be its own alarm clock.
- Fall for Soft Rock. Save Megadeth for getting ready in the morning and spin Mumford & Sons at night instead. The calmer music, the better. Researchers from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio, conducted a study on older individuals listening to soft, calm music before bed and found that it significantly improved their quality of sleep(10).
- Use aromatherapy. Herbs like lavender, chamomile, bergamot, and sandalwood have been used for centuries to calm the central nervous system, bring on a sense of relaxation, and help to induce sleep(11). Place scented candles in your bedroom, ask your partner to massage you with lavender oil before bed, or take a warm bath with any of these herbs at night to put yourself in the mood for sleep.