Guest post by Rachel Harmon
Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health as your body uses this time of rest to repair and restore itself. A lack of quality sleep can negatively affect your health in numerous ways, from a weakened immune system to impaired brain functioning, anxiety, and even weight gain.
While sleep is a foundation for health and wellness, many don’t get enough. The American Academy of Sleep Education reports that millions struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, with 10 percent suffering from chronic insomnia and about a third experiencing at least brief symptoms of insomnia. Taking a pill may provide an easy way out, but it doesn’t result in the sleep your mind and body needs and it can be addictive too. Instead of pharmaceuticals, consider one of these options for improving sleep.
Don’t Toss and Turn If You Can’t Sleep
If you can’t fall asleep or fall back to sleep if you wake in the middle of the night, stop trying once 20 minutes have gone by. Instead, get out of bed and do something calming like reading a book in dim light. Whatever you do, don’t pick up your smartphone, as that blue light will only make it worse.
Float tanks have become increasingly popular in recent years. Filled with warm water that contains Epsom salt, floating offers benefits that can result in better sleep. Without external stimuli like sight, sound, smell, and the sense of gravity, it helps to put the body into a deep state of relaxation that makes it easier for the brain to downshift from alpha waves to theta waves. That allows the body to transition into the delta waves necessary for REM. All the busy mind chatter that most people experience tends to “float away,” and the effects remain active, which means you’ll rest better at night.
Many people use CBD, a cannabinoid that doesn’t have a psychoactive effect or effects that can lead to dependency. It offers a wide range of benefits, including pain relief, decreasing anxiety, and assisting in sleep disorders like insomnia. The compound supports a network of receptors in the body called the endocannabinoid system, which is known to help regulate mood, energy, sleep, and more. Researchers have found that CBD interacts with these receptors to help you wind down while addressing the root causes of stress and restlessness.
Many brands offer CBD tinctures which are flavorless oils that come out of a dropper so you can start small, perhaps with a quarter of a dropper, and then see how it affects you.
Avoid Certain Foods and Beverages
While it may be obvious, avoid drinking coffee too late in the day. For some people, enjoying any caffeine in the afternoon or later can interrupt sleep as it’s a stimulant that raises the heart rate and keeps you awake. Alcohol isn’t a stimulant, but it can affect REM sleep which means you’re likely to wake in the middle of the night, so it should be avoided close to bedtime. Spicy foods and heavy evening meals can cause digestive issues that make sleeping difficult, while snacks like refined carbs, such as chips, crackers, and cookies, raise blood sugar and then cause them to plunge, which disrupts sleep cycles, signaling the brain to wake up.
Regular exercise doesn’t just help you lose weight or stay fit, it can improve sleep. Getting at least 20 to 30 minutes of cardio activity on a daily basis will help you fall asleep faster and get higher quality rest.