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8 Sound Sleep Suggestions – A Holistic Approach

How you sleep at night has a lot to do with what you do during the day. What you eat, think about and how you move can make or break your slumber success. Here are proven ways to help you catch quality Z’s.

  1. Mentally chill
    We work stressful jobs, get stuck in traffic, have a million things on the to-do list; no wonder our minds race when we lay down our weary heads. To make sure your mind is relaxed and ready by the time you hit the hay, take some time to unwind. Relaxation is more than just the absence of activity, so make sure to turn off all distractions and just focus on nice, slow breathing. Just let thoughts pop into your head and watch them go, like clouds drifting away. Whether you call it meditation, yoga or quiet time; make time for it.
  2. Relaxing routine
    Your body loves regularity. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day is crucial to quality sleep.
  3. Bedtime: pick a time when you normally feel tired, to prevent lying awake. If you want to change your bedtime, do so by small increments, such 15 minutes earlier or later each day.

    Wake up-time: if you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time, you may need to go to bed earlier.

    Try not to break this routine, even on the weekend when it may be tempting to stay up late and sleep in.

  4. Serene Cuisine
    Certain foods give you a lift, others can make you drowsy. Preparing for a great sleep means eating ‘relaxing’ foods after dark. Foods that contain tryptophan, magnesium, calcium, vitamins B3 & B6, carbs or protein can make you sleepier than Snow White.Avoid fatty foods close to bedtime; they are slow and difficult to digest. Of course, it’s important not to overeat, especially if you’re prone to attacks of indigestion.

    These dinner & snack ideas contain the right ingredients to help you drift off to dreamland.

  5. Meal Ideas:
    Roasted Garlic Chicken Avocado Pasta
    Turkey Focaccia Sandwich with Basil Salsa
    BBQ Pork Wrap
    Tuna-Mayo Wrap
    Salmon Broccoli Delight
    Snack Ideas:
    Mixed nuts, one handful
    Yogurt with honey & seeds
    Glass of warm milk
  6. Avoid stimulants
    Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco are stimulants, so it makes sense that you should stay away from them close to bedtime.

    Caffeine: Some people even feel the effects of caffeine for up to twelve hours! If you have trouble sleeping, try avoiding caffeine after lunch.

    Alcohol: Many people believe a nightcap helps them sleep, but research has shown that although alcohol might help you fall asleep, alcohol reduces your sleep quality, waking you up later in the night. To avoid this effect, stay away from alcohol before bed.

    Smoking: There are many reasons for giving up smoking, and better sleep might be one of them. Nicotine is a stimulant and disrupts sleep. Smokers go through nicotine withdrawal at night, making it hard to sleep.

  7. Light exposure
    Since pre-historic times, we have risen and gone to rest with the sun. And although our daily lives may have changed since those good ol’ days, our bodies haven’t. Melatonin is a hormone controlled by light exposure. Your brain should secrete more of it after sundown and less during the day. Long days in the office, away from natural light disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. You can restore it with natural exposure to light. That means;

    - Getting enough sunlight during the day
    Here are some helpful hints;
    * Go for a walk before work or during lunch
    * Remove your sunglasses and let the sun shine in!
    * Let as much sunlight into the office as possible.

    - Dimming the lights when the sun goes down
    You’ll trick your brain into thinking the sun is setting, which -to your brain- equals sleepy time. If you don’t have a dimmer, switch your bright lightbulbs to low-wattage, preferably with a yellow or orange tinge.

    - No screentime before bedtime
    No matter how relaxing it may feel to watch TV or check Facebook before bed, the blue light from the screen might keep you awake. When you look at a bright screen, your brain thinks it’s the sun and that it’s daytime. But… you probably shouldn’t be looking at the ‘sun’ at 10pm. So set a cut-off time; turn off computers, tv and phone at least one hour before bedtime.

    - Block the night light
    A dark environment boosts melatonin production, prepping you for sleep. Light affects your brain even through your closed eyelids. If you can’t black out your bedroom with curtains and blinds, try wearing an eye mask to block out the light.

  8. Exercise earlier in the day
    Exercise is a natural sedative, but exercising too close to bedtime might give you trouble dozing off at night. Exercising stimulates your body and raises your temperature. Just before you fall asleep, your core body temperature begins to decrease. If your body is too warm, it can hinder sleep. Try exercising earlier in the day and doing no more than light stretches or yoga before bed.
  9. Set up your ideal sleep environment
    Besides dark, your bedroom should also be a place that tells your brain it’s time to unwind. How to make your bedroom more sleep-friendly;

    Try to eliminate the possibility of getting roused by traffic noise and barking dogs. If you can’t or if you like sound to fall asleep by, you can;
    * turn on a fan.
    * play relaxing sounds, like rain-, ocean- or bird sounds.
    * turn on the radio, but keep it between stations. Talking or music might engage you and keep you awake.

    Keep it cool
    A cool bedroom helps you doze off. The ideal temperature is considered to be around 65oF (18oC).

    Comfy & cozy
    Invest in a comfortable bed. A supportive mattress and pillow can mean the difference between waking up refreshed and waking up with a sore back or neck. Do some research to find out what type of mattress suits you. Check out this Consumer Reports Mattress Buying Guide.

    Your bedroom is your most personal space in the house. It’s easy to find yourself in the middle of a vortex of shoes, clothes, photos, gadgets and books. Too much chaos around you won’t help you relax. Set up sufficient storage space and take a few minutes to tidy up every day.

    Use it for its intended purpose
    Your bedroom has only two purposes; sleeping and intimacy. All other activities, including watching TV, should be done in other rooms. By doing this, you’ll help your brain associate the bedroom with sleep.

    Use the right colors
    Certain colors are known to excite, while others relax. According to British research, people with blue rooms got the best night’s sleep, while people with caramel colored rooms got more sex! So… what colors will you chose for your next bedroom reno? ;)

  10. Can’t sleep? Get up!
    If you can’t sleep and feel yourself getting frustrated, get up. Don’t toss and turn for more than fifteen minutes, the anxiety it causes won’t help you relax. Do something relaxing, like reading a book. Remember; no screens, so TV and computers are off the table. Don’t go back to bed until you feel sleepy again.

If your new sleep routine still doesn’t give you refreshing Z’s after a few weeks, it might be time to visit your health care provider. There might be an underlying medical issue that requires attention.