Want better sleep? There are a tremendous amount of tips out there but the truth is, you only have a certain amount of time to allocate to your actual bedtime routine. Between work, the kids, and even alone time with your spouse, you might be lacking the time to even brush your teeth, let alone embark on an extensive bedtime ritual. Here are some easy ways to get better sleep—without all the hassle.
Create better afternoon habits. Go ahead! Enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea when you wake up in the morning. But when it comes to afternoon rituals, it’s important to curb your caffeine habits. Joan Salge Blake, RD, a clinical associate professor at Boston University, says to watch out for afternoon drinks, especially since your favorite flavored water or fruity soda might also pack a caffeine punch. Avoid anything that comes loaded with energy boosters or caffeine after 2 pm.
Choose sleep-inducing foods. Don’t eat a big meal right before going to bed since it may affect your sleep, but eating the right dinner might help you to fall asleep. Whole wheat pasta with vegetables, tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, and diced chicken might be the perfect combination due to its protein and tryptophan—which helps to create serotonin. Just keep the meal light—and stick to cottage cheese with sliced bananas or yogurt with cereal as a late night snack if you’re still hungry.
Avoid wine late at night. John E. Brown, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, says that alcohol can decrease deep sleep—which is not a good thing, since you may end up feeling restless most of the night. Drink wine in moderation, and have a glass early with dinner instead of late at night.
You can still have your bubbles in the tub. However, you might want to consider taking your bath earlier than bedtime. A hot bath might make it more difficult for you to fall asleep, due to the elevated temperature your body reaches after a long, hot soak. According to J. Todd Arnedt, PhD, director of the University of Michigan Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, your body needs to be at a cool temperature in order to fall asleep properly.
Take some time to stretch. You don’t need to embark on a full yoga routine to get a good night’s sleep, but taking a minute or two to relax with yoga stretches or meditation might be just what your body needs to fall asleep faster. You can also try deep breathing to help relax the tension in your body.
Keep your room free of light. At night, that is. According to Arnedt, “bright light too close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep.” A dark room (or even dimmed lights) will remind your body that it’s time for bed—not time to wake up. A switch that allows you to dim the lights or low-watt bulbs might help.
Keep your phone on the nightstand. You might be counting on your five alarms to wake you up in the morning, but try to resist the urge to play with your phone or respond to emails while lying in bed. It’s best to avoid technology for about an hour before going to bed—or maybe try using an actual alarm clock to avoid the temptation of turning on your cell for one last app download. Your body will be so rested in the AM that you might not have to set those five alarms anymore.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
Image credit: Sleeping by RelaxingMusic, used under a creative commons license.
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