Sleeping well is the key to good health and overall well being. Having adequate sleep helps both the body and brain to rejuvenate and function properly. In addition, having a good night sleep keeps the immune system of the body strong and also helps reduce stress and regulate moods. However, since certain factors such as depression, anxiety, medical disorders or relationship issues can often affect sleep quality, taking care of your diet, maintaining good sleep hygiene and learning simple ways to fall asleep naturally can help you have a restful sleep.
Foods that help Sleeping Problems
Diet can play a vital role in helping you sleep well. Eat foods that are rich in folic acid, Vitamin B6, B12 along with those that are directly related to serotonin – a key hormone that helps promotes healthy sleep. Consuming foods that will help increase serotonin levels as well as help calm your mind can be highly beneficial in getting you ready for a restful sleep.
1: Lean proteins: Foods such as turkey, low fat cheese, fish and chicken contain lean proteins. The fact that these foods contain high amounts of amino acid tryptophan, including them in your diet can help increase serotonin levels. However, since chicken wings, high fat cheese or deep fried fish do not get digested easily and can keep you awake at night; it is recommended that you avoid eating them.
2: Complex Carbohydrates: Including foods such as cereals, brown rice and whole grain breads in your diet helps promote sleep. Consuming foods such as pasta, bread, sweets, cookies, pastries and other sugar foods that contain simple carbohydrates will reduce serotonin levels and deprive you of sleep.
3: Heart Healthy Fats: Consuming foods like peanut butter and nuts such as almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts and pistachios containing unsaturated fats will not only improve heart health, but boost your serotonin levels. Foods such as potato chips, French fries or other high – fat snacks contain saturated and trans- fats that can lower you serotonin levels.
4: Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs such as basil, Valerian, lemon balm, passion flower and chamomile tend to have a calming effect on the body. While chemicals found in basil helps reduce tension and promote sleep, the leaves and flowers of passion flower have a mild flavor that helps reduce sleeplessness caused due to anxiety. However, since herbs such as black pepper and red pepper have stimulatory effect on the body, it is advisable to avoid using them.
5: Beverages: Drinking a good soothing beverage before retiring to bed can help you sleep soundly all night. Having a cup of warm milk or drinking herbal tea such as peppermint or chamomile helps promote good sleep.
Snacks that help Induce Sleep
- Eat banana along with low fat yogurt
- Eat a few pita chips (100 percent whole grain) combined with low fat cottage cheese
- Enjoy an apple that is combined with mozzarella string cheese.
Best way to Fall Asleep Naturally
1: Use Relaxation Techniques: Practicing simple relaxation techniques such as stretching, meditating or trying to loosen your muscles in a great way to fall asleep naturally.
- Stretching: To stretch while sleeping on your back, raise one leg and try bringing your knee close to your chin. With the help of your arms hold your legs close to you until you feel the hamstrings of your legs and lower back begin to stretch and hold until tension subsides. This simple stretching exercise will helps relieve tension in your legs, lower back and the back of your neck, making your body more relaxed and h help refocus your mind on simple resting. This technique is particularly useful for those people who need to travel long distance in plane or car.
- Meditation: Mediation is a powerful technique that can help relax your muscles, lower your heart rate and make it easier for you to fall asleep. Meditating on a calming phrase or word or visualizing yourself as attending to your thoughts and resolving them will help keep you relaxed and maximize a state of restfulness.
- Loosen your muscles: While lying on your back, try loosening your muscles starting from the tips of your toes to reaching your head. Try moving each part of your body starting from your ankles, calves, knees, arms, shoulders until you feel completely relaxed and are set to go to sleep.
2: Breathing techniques: Deep breathing is a one of the best ways to induce sleep naturally. Doing a simple breathing exercise while lying on your back in bed and breathing about six times a minute is a great to feel relaxed and fall asleep. Follow the simple instructions listed below when using the breathing technique-
- Breathe deeply for four long counts
- For two counts , hold your breath
- Allow the deep breath out for four counts. Ensure that you push the last bit of the breath out gently.
- Repeat the process by concentrating on your breath.
3: Use Aromatherapy: Using aromatherapy solely or in combination for a massage, bath or as a pillow spray is great natural remedy for insomnia. Listed below are some effective aromatherapy solutions for good sleep.
- To prepare a sleep promoting bath, combine 2 drops of lovage oil, 6 drops of chamomile oil and 2 drops of lime flower oil to warm hot bath.
- For an aromatherapy massage, combine 3 drops of mandarin oil, 2 drops dill oil, 4 drops lavender oil, 3 drops nutmeg oil, 2 drops lemon oil and 15 ml of carrier oil such as almond oil. Combine these oils together and massage into the back of your neck, upper chest, shoulders and down your back.
- Certain smells such as ylang- ylang, chamomile and lavender can trigger the alpha activity in the brain and help you feel relaxed and sleep more soundly. Combine a few drops of water with essential oil in spray bottle and spray it on your pillow case to enjoy good sleep.
Best Sleep Hygiene Tips
Sleep hygiene basically refers to healthy sleep habits to enjoy sound sleep. Following simple sleep hygiene tips will help maximize sleeping hours of an individual and even those sleep us affected by shift work, jet lag or insomnia.
- Maintain a sleep Schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time, even on holidays or weekends helps your body to tune into a sleep rhythm and promote better sleep at night.
- Create a Bedtime ritual: Before you retire to bed every night, follow a bedtime ritual to help the body know that it is time to wind down. Following some simple bedtime rituals such listening to soothing music, reading a book or having a hot water bath before retiring to bed will help ease the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness and help you enjoy a sound sleep.
- Pay attention to what you drink or eat: To enjoy a restful sleep, it is important that you pay attention to what you eat or drink. Avoid going to bed hungry or stuffed. Avoid drinking any fluids within two hours before retiring to bed. This will help prevent night trips to the toilet. In addition, avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before going to sleep at night is also essential to enjoy good quality sleep.
- Limit daytime Naps: Sleeping for long hours during the day can interfere with your sleep at night especially if you are struggling with poor sleep quality or insomnia. If you need to take a nap during the day, take it during mid afternoon for about 10 to 30 minutes.
- Have a Comfortable Sleeping Environment: To enjoy peaceful sleep, make it a habit to making your bed every morning. A clean and fully made bed is more inviting than an untidy one. In addition, choosing to sleep on a comfortable pillow, using room darkening shades in the room will help you create an atmosphere for enjoying sound sleep.
How to Sleep Effectively
1: Stay comfortable: Staying completely at ease before going to bed is important to help uninterrupted sleep all night. To stay comfortable, consider adjusting these things
- Sleep position: Always sleep in a position that is most comfortable to you. While most people are back, hip or stomach sleepers, sleeping on the side is considered best position during pregnancy.
- Clothing: Wearing comfortable clothes is an essential factor for good sleep. While wearing tight clothes can sometimes may you feel scratchy and difficult to toss and roll during sleep, wearing long nightshirt and loose cotton pajamas can help you stay comfortable all night.
2: Manage noise: Controlling noise according to your personal needs in and around the environment can play a pivotal role in helping you sleep effectively. While some people need ambient noise to sleep quickly, others may require complete silence to go to sleep. Elderly people tend to have an increased sensitivity to environmental stimuli and are known to get aroused easily from sleep by noise. To manage noise, take a look at some of these suggestions-
- Use Ear plugs: Using this aid while sleeping works beneficially in blocking out sounds of neighbors and roommates as well as helps you stay alert to emergency warning system such as a fire alarm.
- Compile a playlist: Compiling relaxing and soothing music in your IPod or your mobile phone will help drown out intermitted noises and help you relax and fall asleep.
- Listening to Ambient Noises: If you one of those who only go to sleep while listening to ambient noises such as running water, raindrops, or binaural beats, download a free app that has these features.
3: Adjust lighting: Most people prefer sleeping in complete darkness. However if you one of those who prefer some lighting, you can simple adjustments.
- If you prefer having some lights for a food night sleep, consider locating the lights in the hallway. If you favor a night light, consider placing it in the nearby space or to the hall.
- If you are a person who cannot withstand even dim lights at night, considering wearing a sleep mask. Wearing a sleep mask will help prevent all light and sounds of the surrounding environment and helps you sleep peacefully.
4: Control Temperature: Maintaining an ideal room temperature can help one sleep fast. However, although sleep temperature may vary from person to person, maintaining temperature between 16- 20 Celsius (60.8- 68 degrees Fahrenheit) is considered ideal.
5: Manage Stress levels: Anxiety, stress, worry and depression can contribute to inability to fall asleep. To manage stress, consider opting for positive techniques such as yoga, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, assertive training, exercise or self hypnosis. Managing stress will help restore peace and help you sleep soundly. In addition, trying simple tricks such as placing a pillow in between your legs especially when you have a back or stomach pain will helps reduce pain and stress and lull you into sleep.
6: Stay Active: Regular physical activity not only helps promote better sleep, but also helps you sleep quickly and enjoy deep sleep. However, it is important to remember that you avoid doing exercises close to bedtime as it may energize you and keep you awake.
7: Remove all electronic devices from your bedroom: Having electronic devices such as a laptop, television, Mp3 player placed closed to you bed instructs your mind to perceive your bedroom as something more than a place of peace and rest.
8: Try taking supplements: Taking supplement also helps a person sleep better every night. However, results achieved can vary from person to person. Common supplements taken are-
- Melatonin: This supplement which is available in 3mg, 5mg and 10 mg helps regulate sleep. Although the natural levels of melatonin in the blood are highest at night, taking this supplement is usually beneficial in treating jet lag and other sleep disorders.
- Valerian: Made from the root of the herb, taking this supplement help provide a relaxation effect on the body and can treat mild sleep problems in an effective way.
Sound sleep results in increased energy and productivity, better mood, improved heart and immune system health and even longer life. Although nearly everyone does experience occasional sleepless nights, losing sleep on a regular basis requires you to contact your physician. Identifying and treating the underlying cause of sleep deprivation can help you treat the disorder and help you enjoy sound sleep.