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Tips to Aid our Sleep

Lately, I am hearing more and more about people not being able to sleep well, sleep through the night, get to sleep, stay asleep, or get back to sleep.  Adequate sleep has been linked to healthier brain function, (cognition, memory, learning, and concentration), immune function, restoration of damaged tissue, flushing toxins, and healthier hearts.  Sleep deprivation is linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, increased inflammation, depression, and irritability.

 

In addition to turning off smart phones and laptops, tablets and other intrusive electronics at least an hour before going to bed (the blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, which lets our bodies know when it is time to go to sleep), sipping a warm, soothing tea, (chamomile), and listening to calming music or a guided visualization or meditation, here are some tips you may want to try before going to sleep:

 

Establish a bedtime ritual which includes the same bedtime every night so your body gets the message that it is time to wind down and sleep.  A couple of hours before getting into bed, try some slow tai chi or yoga movements to help relax your body and your mind.

 

Bathing.  Because our body temperatures change as we fall and stay asleep, taking a warm bath or shower along with lowering the temperature in your bedroom can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

 

Darkness.  Regarding light that is NOT blue, hanging blackout shades or curtains helps our circadian rhythms stay in sync. Our bodies need to know when to wake up and fall asleep.

 

Exercise during the day. Just 10 minutes of exercise can improve the quality of our sleep (and there may be a connection to a lower risk for restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea).

 

Nutrition.  Eating healthfully improves our sleep. Avoiding processed sugar (always a good idea), contributes to better sleep. If we must have an evening snack, eating an hour or so before getting into bed improves the chances of good digestion.  Fresh fruit and foods high in potassium like Greek yoghurt, banana, or peanut butter on whole wheat toast can help our muscles to relax. And, for some of us, avoiding caffeine after 3 pm is essential.

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