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Five Ways You Can Renew Mental Health by Focusing on Sleep Habits

Actualizado: 9 de ene de 2019



How we sleep at night has a direct effect on how we feel during the day. When we rest well, we are energized and feel good. However, when we don’t, we may be irritable and drowsy all day. Luckily, there are ways we can improve our sleeping habits to feel better.


Redo Your Bedroom for Sleep

Lack of sleep can negatively impact mood, the number of carbs we crave, and even the energy we have to work out. As such, this makes it vital to be proactive in getting a good night of rest. Your bedroom can affect the quality of your sleep, even down to the color, which is why some will paint their walls blue to ease heart rate and aid relaxation. The brain associates light with daytime and being awake, and heavy curtains (or something to stop light) can trick the brain into getting sleepy. You also want a quiet room, as sound can interfere with sleep. If this is an issue, consider a white noise generator to cancel out anything bothersome. Lastly, keep your room between 60 to 67 degrees if possible, as lower temperatures prepare us for sleep. The body naturally drops in temperature, so this is one way to boost the onset of sleepiness.


What to Eat and What to Avoid

Many of us know that caffeine keeps us up and that warm milk or turkey can help us fall asleep. Yet, there is more to one's diet that affects our nights. Look for foods that are high in melatonin and tryptophan. These include walnuts, chickpeas, tart cherry juice, lobster and shrimp. Grains, especially jasmine rice, aid sleep by causing our glycemic index to spike. However, you want to skip fatty foods before bed. Foods high in processed sugar should be limited as well, as these can cause an upset stomach, which is a leading cause of sleep disruption. Alcohol can also impair deep sleep and may cause grogginess the following day.


Exercise for Better Slumber

As long as you're not exercising right before bed, daily fitness can aid sleep. Unfortunately, this does not apply to gentle workouts, as these do not elevate one's heart rate. Still, doing crunches or push-ups an hour before bed can make falling asleep easier. Yoga is another exercise that can help relax the body. By stretching your muscles slowly and controlling your breathing, you prepare your body for rest. However, avoid positions that cause strain, as they can accelerate the heart and cause you to feel more awake.


Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to your common sleeping habits. When you have poor hygiene, the quality of your sleep is reflected. The best way to get more slumber is to maintain a routine. Even on days off, get up and go to bed at the same time. Be comfortable when you lie down; if you aren't, you may need a new pillow or mattress. Maintaining good habits also means reducing stress. Should you find yourself struggling to sleep, get up for 15 minutes and do something relaxing. With these steps combined, you'll increase the likelihood of sleeping better.


Good Tech and Bad Tech

There's no way to ignore how much technology can interfere with sleep. For many people, phones are a major source of insomnia. However, it isn't just the blue light they emit that keeps us up. Using tech at night, such as a smartphone or laptop, has been shown to increase stress levels. This, in turn, keeps our brains active and awake. An hour or two before bed, simply put the phone and computer away and try to unwind. Of course, this doesn't mean you should ditch all tech, as things like sleep trackers can improve how well you sleep. After all, you may gain valuable insight into the quality of your sleep and what is keeping you up.


Sleep is integral to physical health and mental well-being. It can seem elusive, but there are plenty of ways we can improve our sleep hygiene. A restful night is within reach.


By: Sheila Olson

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Sheila Olson has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.


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