February 27, 2016

    Lack of sleep doesn’t just affect your ability to listen to your boss or pay attention in class. Many health consequences, such as increased risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, weight gain, and depression, are among the risks associated with long-term, inadequate sleep patterns.

    Everyone has restless nights where all you can think about is tomorrow’s busy schedule. Every once in awhile is normal, but if your lack of sleep is affecting your health and long-term ability to function, try following these 5 easy sleep tips.

  1. Choose Alternatives to Caffeine

    Caffeine is a known stimulant. It is great for assistance with staying awake during the struggles of daily tasks, but awful when the side effects end up messing with your sleep schedule. The National Sleep Foundation states that caffeine products remain in the body on average for 3 to 5 hours; however, some peoples systems keep these products for up to a shocking 12 hours. Try cutting back on overall caffeine intake, and definitely avoid consuming caffeine products 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Consider caffeine-free teas or sparkling, naturally-flavored waters as an alternative to coffee and soda.

    Cup of Coffee
    Image courtesy of MCDH.

  2. Exercise Regularly

    Exercise should already be a normal part of your daily routine to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Any form of physical activity is better than none, but make sure it is not interfering with your sleeping habits. Healthy Sleep states that exercising early or at least 3 hours before bed can help you fall asleep faster and maintain sound sleep throughout the night. Light exercise is better than no exercise. Try some relaxing exercises at night, such as stretching or yoga, if you didn’t get your normal activity in during the day.

    Exercise
    Image courtesy of Diets for Woman.

  3. Lighten Evening Meals and Snacks

    Avoiding heavy, large meals for dinner is best to ensure your sleep that evening will not be restless. Certain foods will cause discomfort, such as heartburn and indigestion, as well as difficulty falling asleep. Finish your meal a few hours before you plan on going to sleep. Sometimes a snack before bed is necessary to quite your stomach. Some studies show that specific foods can actually help to promote sleep. Try carbohydrates with tryptophan or dairy with protein that can calm the brain and aid your sleep process.

    Evening Meals
    Image courtesy of Norms Restaurants.

  4. Silence Electronics

    In today’s society, cell phones are used for more than just phone calls. One of their features is their built-in alarm clocks. If you are using your phone as an alarm, make sure you turn it on silent and place it on a bedside table. Do not keep your phone next to your pillow and on vibrate. Even vibrations from your phone can disturb your sleep pattern. If it is impossible to detach yourself from your phone and other electronics, try investing in an actual alarm clock so you don’t have an excuse to text or check e-mail late at night.

    Sleep with Electronics
    Image courtesy of Huffington Post.

  5. Set a Relaxing Environment

    Keeping your room specific to sleep is essential. Maintaining organization and an interruption-free zone is important. Cool, dark, quiet environments are the best to promote sound sleep. Consider investing in blackout curtains, fans, earplugs, or eye masks to help achieve these conditions. The National Sleep Foundation also says to consider bringing the lights down before bed, because dimness signals the biological clock that it’s time to wind down. So, if you are reading or studying until you fall asleep, try using the least amount of light possible.

    Sleep Environment
    Image courtesy of Sleep-Geek.

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