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Are you having trouble falling asleep at night? Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night or not feeling well rested the following day? You could be one of 50-70 million Americans who are affected by sleep-related problems.
According to SleepFoundation.org, adults require 7-9 hours of sleep each night. And it's not just the number of hours you sleep each night that is important, but the quality of sleep too!
Poor sleep can negatively affect both your physical health and your emotional well-being. You may be surprised to learn that it can also:
- increase the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and stroke
- cause weight gain or make it difficult for you to lose weight
- contribute to chronic pain
- worsen anxiety and depression
- weaken your immune system, causing you to be sick more often
So what can you do to improve your sleep? You've come to the right place. Here are 30 ways to help you fall asleep naturally!
Foods that make you sleepy
Almonds - are a great source of both magnesium (a mineral that relaxes the body's muscles and nerves) and melatonin (a natural sleep-inducing hormone).
Chamomile Tea - may leave you feeling tranquil, as it contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to the receptors in your brain, causing a calming effect.
Fatty Fish - such as salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, both of which may help improve sleep quality.
Kiwi - contains both serotonin and antioxidants, which may help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Tart Cherry Juice - may help extend the duration and quality of your sleep due to its melatonin content.
Turkey - is a great source of protein and the amino acid tryptophan, which increases production of serotonin and melatonin.
Walnuts - are a good source of protein, tryptophan, and omega-3's!
Adjust your settings
Temperature - For optimal sleep, keep your bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lights Out - Our bodies produce melatonin when it gets dark, which helps us fall asleep.
Music - Listening to soothing music may help relax your body and prepare it for a good night's sleep.
Set a routine
Exercise - People who include as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise daily into their routine may sleep better at night, however be sure to avoid strenuous workouts in the late evening or right before bed.
Bath or Shower - Taking a hot bath or shower an hour or two before bed is not only relaxing, but helps to induce sleep as your body cools down.
Read a Book - Immersing yourself in a good book can take your mind off things and help you unwind. Just make sure you are reading from an actual book and not an electronic device.
Be Consistent - Going to bed at night and waking up in the morning at the same time each day will actually help you get a better night's sleep.
Clear your mind
Happy Thoughts - When trying to fall asleep, replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. Visualize yourself at a place that makes you happy. For me it's the beach -feel the sunshine on your face, hear the calling of the seagulls, and the sounds of the waves crashing down.
Meditate - Focus on your breathing and count to four as you inhale and then to four as you exhale. Let any thoughts that enter your mind pass on through.
The Alphabet Game- Okay, here's a technique I used with kids when they were having trouble sleeping. I would give them a category each night before going to bed, such as animals. In their head, they would have to think of an animal for each letter of the alphabet. They were asleep in no time!
Things to avoid before bed
Napping - Taking a nap during the day can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night and may effect sleep quality in some people.
Screen Time - Be sure to avoid watching TV, playing video games, and spending time on your computer or mobile phone one hour before bed, as these devices emit blue light which may make it harder for you to sleep.
Caffeine - Beverages such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks should not be consumed six hours before bed. If you suffer from anxiety, then you may consider avoiding them altogether.
Alcohol - An alcoholic beverage may relax you and help you to fall asleep more quickly, however it may decrease your deep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This may leave you feeling groggy the following day.
Consider taking a supplement
Magnesium - Insomnia may be a sign of a magnesium deficiency. Taking 200-400mg daily may help decrease anxiety, relax the muscles, and improve sleep.
Melatonin - When taken an hour before bed, this sleep-inducing hormone may help you to fall asleep faster.
Omega-3 - Not a fan of fatty fish? You may consider taking a fish oil supplement to improve both sleep quality and the duration of your sleep.
Vitamin D - Sleep disturbance may be a sign of a vitamin D deficiency. Ask your health care provider to check your vitamin D level the next time you have your blood drawn and take a supplement as needed.
*Always consult with your health care practitioner prior to taking any supplements.
Invest in the best
Mattress - You do realize that you spend ⅓ of your life in bed, right? That should warrant a super comfortable mattress in my opinion. Don't settle for mediocre!
Pillow - Are you one of those people who end up purchasing dozens of pillows, but never seem to find the right one? A comfy down alternative pillow is the perfect choice!
Weighted Blanket - Does anxiety or restless legs keep you up at night? A weighted blanket may help by providing deep pressure therapy, which increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of sleep . They may also be helpful for those with autism or ADHD.
White Noise Machine - There are actually some people who need noise to sleep, such as a fan or air conditioner. A white noise machine can also mask loud sounds, helping you to fall asleep.
Did you find this article helpful? Leave a comment below! If you continue to have difficulty sleeping, reach out to your healthcare professional.