If you wake up feeling like a combination of Garfield and Sleepy the dwarf, chances are you aren’t getting enough sleep.
Having trouble focusing and relying on caffeine to keep you awake, are just a couple of ways your body is telling you to get some rest. But between busy schedules, stressful jobs, and unhealthy habits – falling asleep may be easier said than done.
Research shows that 35 to 50 percent of adults suffer from symptoms of insomnia. Sleep deprivation has been shown to have serious health risks, including increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease. Not to mention sleep plays an important role in your immune system.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep naturally. Keep reading to learn our 5 tips for hitting the hay and getting some zzz’s.
5 tips for better sleep
Tip 1: Exercise
Studies show that exercising 3-4 times a week can help improve your sleep and keep you more alert during the day. How? Exercising increases the time spent in deep sleep – the most restorative sleep phase. During this time, your heart rate slows, your muscles are relaxed, and your brain waves are at their slowest. This phase is essential to energy restoration, cell regeneration, and supporting memory and brain function.
In a sleep study, 14 elderly subjects were exposed to light physical activity for two weeks, while 9 elderly subjects were not. During the two weeks, the group of 14 had noticed improved sleep and an increase in focus and mood.
Regular exercise can also tire you out, leaving your body more prepared for rest at the end of day. However, studies show that timing is everything. Avoid working out in the evening, so your body has time to cool off and unwind before bed. Exercising too close to bedtime may have adverse effects on your sleep.
Tip 2: Unplug
If you’re one of the many who likes to unwind with a little screen time, you’re not alone. But studies show that scrolling Instagram or watching tv before bed is negatively impacting your sleep and overall health.
The artificial blue light emitted by electronic devices actually delays your body’s internal clock, and makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
Studies show that blue light also suppresses melatonin – a natural hormone that signals the body to go to sleep. In a Harvard study, researchers compared the effects of 6.5 hours of blue light exposure to exposure of green light. The blue light suppressed melatonin for twice as long and shifted circadian rhythms twice as much as the green light.
The solution? Try setting an electronics curfew for yourself 1-2 hours before bedtime. Place your phone away from your bed, and begin a nightly routine that allows for a good night’s sleep. A warm bath, stretching, then reading are great ways to fully relax before you catch some zzz’s.
Tip 3: Meditate
Having trouble “letting go” of the day? If a busy mind is keeping you awake at night, try meditating. The practice of meditation dates back hundreds of years, but its purpose has remained the same – to quiet the mind and find inner peace.
Meditating before bed has been shown to relieve stress and promote feelings of calmness. In addition to its anxiety-reducing effects, meditation may increase melatonin and serotonin, and improve the autonomic nervous system, which controls how easily you’re awakened.
A 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine evaluated the effects of meditation on 49 adults with moderate sleep issues. Some participants were assigned 6 weeks of meditation, while some were not. At the end of the study, those who participated in meditation had fewer insomnia symptoms and an increase in energy.
Dr. Herbert Benson, of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine says these findings come as no surprise. “Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response,” says Dr. Benson. “The relaxation response can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure. For many people, sleep disorders are closely tied to stress.”
So, what’s the best way to meditate before bed? Sit in a quiet place, away from distractions and close your eyes as you begin to focus on your breath. You can repeat a sound like “om” or repeat a phrase or prayer. If you notice your mind wandering, simply bring it back to your breath or chosen focus.
Tip 4: Stick to a schedule
Studies show that going to bed at the same time every night helps to regulate your body’s internal clock which increases the quality of your sleep.
Your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, is controlled by a part of your brain called the hypothalamus. This portion of your brain sends a signal to your body to release melatonin, which makes you sleepy. If you have a normal schedule, your circadian rhythm coincides with day and night, but when it’s interrupted by things like jet lag or a late night, you might feel out of sorts the next day.
In a 2009 study, 160 students underwent a sleep survey and were put into three groups of irregular bedtime schedules. After two weeks of logging their sleep, researchers found that the students with more irregular sleep schedules suffered from poor sleep and poor performance.
For a better night’s sleep, researchers suggest going to bed and waking up within the same 30 minutes every day. The bedtime feature on your iPhone makes creating a sleep schedule so much easier! All you have to do is input your sleep schedule, and your iPhone will remind you when it’s time for bed. This feature also mutes all notifications till you wake up, so you have a sweet, uninterrupted slumber.
Tip 5: Drink a golden latte
Golden Mellow is everything you need to calm your nerves and relax your body from the inside out; turmeric, ashwagandha, ginger, cinnamon, lucuma and pepper. Turmeric is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory powers, while ashwagandha will reduce your stress and anxiety and help you get a good night’s sleep.
The next time you need to find your calm in the chaos, mix up a Golden Mellow Latte! Get the recipe here!