If you’ve been tossing and turning at night, unable to get a good night’s sleep no matter what you do, it’s possible that your overall wellness is to blame. Getting a good night’s sleep will contribute immensely to your overall health and wellness, but it’s equally true that what you eat and how you exercise will contribute to the quality of your sleep. If you’ve been struggling to fall asleep at night, experiencing more restless nights than usual, or fighting to get back to sleep once you wake up in the middle of the night, a few simple tricks can help you get back on track.
Tip 1: Skip the Convenience
Today’s Americans have more opportunities for convenience than ever before. They spend their days sitting behind desks, staring at computer screens with little need to ever get out of their chairs. Paperless offices mean that communication is a few clicks away: physical memos aren’t written, so they don’t have to be hand-delivered. Even better for this population is the curbside service available in many locations. You don’t even have to go inside to get a meal, pick up your groceries, or even pick up deliveries. All you have to do is drive up, wait for someone else to handle the loading, and drive away again. While all of these are excellent opportunities for time-crunched individuals, they’re also encouraging a sedentary lifestyle. Why get out of the car when you can sit? Why visit a store when you can have things delivered straight to your home? In this case, the answer is, “Because you want to sleep.”
As busy as you are, when you spend the entire day avoiding physical activity, you’ll struggle to sleep at night. Your brain won’t want to turn off, and instead, you’ll find yourself counting sheep long past the hour when you should be snoring away beside your partner. Instead, try taking the long way. Walk through the grocery store and pick out your own groceries. Stand up and go have a conversation with a coworker instead of sending a quick email. These activities may add a little time to your day, but they’ll also help decrease that activity deficit.
Tip 2: Take the Long Way
You might not have time to fit a full workout into your day, but you can find small ways to add activity. You don’t need the latest wearable technology; an inexpensive step counter is more than enough to let you know when you’ve spent the bulk of your day behind a desk instead of getting up and doing something productive. To add in a few steps and keep yourself moving, learn to take the stairs instead of the elevator any time you’re only going up a floor or two. Instead of circling the parking lot, looking for the closest space, take one near the back–the time saved looking for the perfect spot might even be more than the time it takes you to make the walk. Take the long way around whenever you need to walk through the office. Before you know it, you’ll be moving more than ever–and sleeping better, too.
Tip 3: Exercise More
You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to fit exercise into your schedule once you get the routine down. It doesn’t take much to affect the quality of your sleep: one study found that as little as 3-4 thirty-minute sessions per week was enough to substantially improve the quality of sleep experienced by participants. For you, that might be as simple as going for a brisk walk on your lunch hour, joining a new exercise class a couple of nights a week, or meeting a friend for a jog.
Tip 4: Balance Your Calories
When you live a busy, high-paced lifestyle, you spend more of your day running from place to place than you do sitting down and eating. Skipping meals isn’t just unhealthy. It can also lead to a body that refuses to settle down at night. When you skip meals, you’ll also tend to binge eat in the evening to make up lost calories, which won’t help your sleep quality, either! Instead, balance your calories throughout the day. You don’t have to eat three square meals and two to three snacks every day, but make sure that you’re eating a good meal for breakfast and lunch, not waiting until you get home to eat more than a protein bar or a piece of fruit.
Tip 5: Carbs Before Bed
You might think that carbs are the enemy, especially if you’re trying to avoid a high-calorie binge right before rolling into bed at night. A balanced snack, however, can help increase the production of important hormones in your body right before bedtime, when you need them the most. Instead of skipping the carbs, eat whole grains to encourage your body to fall asleep faster.
Tip 6: Skip the Sugar
You know that sugar is bad for your body. What you may not realize, however, is that it’s also destroying your sleep. While treats in moderation are fine, try to keep your sugar consumption minimal. The less sugar you consume, the more energy you’ll have, the better you’ll feel, and the more rested you’ll be.
Tip 7: Add Sleep-Boosting Foods
Carbs before bed are one thing. What about the foods you can eat the rest of the day? There are plenty of sleep-boosting foods that will help contribute to a good night’s sleep, including fish, yogurt, and bananas.
Tip 8: Cut Your Caffeine
If you haven’t been sleeping well, the idea of giving up your daily pot of coffee may seem entirely counterproductive. The caffeine habit that keeps you productive during the day, however, may make it impossible for you to sleep at night. Instead of guzzling coffee like there’s no tomorrow, try drinking a cup or two of green tea to get your day started right. Over time, try to reduce your caffeine consumption further. Can’t get the day started without coffee? Cut yourself off by midday to give the caffeine time to work out of your system before bedtime. Keep in mind, however, that it will remain in your body for more than a full day, so even that morning cup can make it hard to sleep later if you’re extremely sensitive.
Tip 9: Avoid the Alcohol
Many people think that tossing back a glass of wine before bed or drinking down a couple of beers after dinner is a great way to kick off a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol has a highly disruptive effect on your sleep patterns. You might fall asleep quickly, but thanks to your alcohol consumption, you’ll find yourself doing a lot more tossing and turning throughout the night. Instead, skip the drink. If you need a sleep aid, try an herbal tea instead.
Finding the perfect balance between diet and exercise to create the good night’s sleep you crave takes time. You want to be able to enjoy what you eat, have time for your preferred activities instead of having to exercise every day, and still fall asleep when your head hits the pillows. As your energy levels increase as a result of better nutrition and exercise habits, however, you’ll find that you’re able to fit in more of the things you really want to do in a day. Give it a try! If you don’t like the results, you can always go back to your old lifestyle. Still having trouble sleeping? Contact your local Urban Mattress store to learn more about how you can get the rest you deserve.