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Feeling Sleep Deprived? 4 Everyday Errors That Could Be Keeping You Awake
Most of us know that a good night’s sleep is healthy; but do we really take that advice seriously? Many times we brush aside a full night’s sleep due to our busy schedules, a need for “down time” that keeps us up, or simply life’s circumstances. But a lack of sleep can result in more than just feeling tired(which is bad enough). Medical experts warn that chronic sleep deprivation can have serious effects on your health. So you need a good restful night’s sleep. Here are 4 errors that could be keeping you up at night.
1. Eating The Wrong Thing. Your diet Could Be Keeping You Awake
The various connections between what you eat and how you sleep are gaining attention. Research is showing that what you eat or don’t eat can, in fact, affect your sleep. Here are some ideas as to how food affects your sleep, and what foods should be eaten or avoided to get a good night’s sleep.
- Stimulants. Eating chocolate, sugar, refined grains, or drinking caffeine during the day and into the evening can have a stimulative effect that goes well into the night. For some people, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives can disturb sleep.
Experts recommend that you avoid the following foods, particularly in the evenings and/or right before bed:
- Alcohol- it can disrupt your sleep patterns and make for poor sleep quality. It’s diuretic effect(especially beer) can also disrupt sleep.
- Excessively salty foods- as the kidneys work to rid your body of the excess salt, you will probably find yourself getting up to go to the bathroom during the night.
- Tea, coffee, or cola—the caffeine these drinks contain is not only a stimulant to your nervous system; it’s been said to stimulate the kidneys too.
- Spicy and/or greasy, fried foods—these may cause heartburn.
What Should You Eat?
- Magnesium—containing foods, such as almonds, seeds, black beans, salmon, dark leafy greens and most whole grains are helpful(although if beans give you uncomfortable gas, they should probably be avoided). Magnesium is crucial to muscle and nerve function, particularly muscle relaxation.
- Whole grains and other complex carbohydrates may also promote sleep, as they are said to stimulate serotonin is the brain.
- Plain, low –fat yogurt with raw honey makes a good bedtime snack. Raw honey is actually known to promote sleep and even weight loss, while yogurt contains calcium, which is also important to muscle relaxation. Calcium also helps with melatonin production in the body.
2. Exercising At The Wrong Time
Exercise can improve the quality of your sleep. In fact, many experts point to this basic lifestyle adjustment as being key to sleep improvement. However, sources point out that how and when you exercise makes a difference in how positively and how much your exercise will affect your sleep.
- For a restful sleep, exercise in the mid to late afternoon is idea. It gets you past the sleep time in the afternoon when taking a nap(if possible) can result in you not feeling sleepy at bedtime. Late afternoon exercise gets your body heat up and your circulation going, and as your body temperature cools, it seems to get the body ready for sleep.
- A vigorous workout in the evening shortly before bed means you are trying to sleep with a raised body temperature, and studies have shown that a cooling body temperature is most conducive to sleep.
3. Not Setting A Bedtime
Remember how your parents pestered you about bedtime? They had a point. Instead of looking at the ever-later clock each night, knowing you really should get to bed, set a bedtime and stick with it. Most experts agree that you should go to sleep before midnight, preferably before 11pm.
If this isn’t possible, be realistic and set a bedtime when you know you can between 7 and 8 hours of sleep.
4. Having A Set-Up In Your Bedroom That Is Not Conducive To Sleep
Here are some things to look for and adjust in your bedroom to make it more sleep-promoting:
- Dark and cool is the rule for a sleepy bedroom. Darkness is important for a proper night’s sleep—light’s from neighbors’ homes, screens(including the TV or computer screen), lamps, and so forth can disturb your sleep patterns.
- Cooler temperatures are said to promote sleep. A higher body temperature may actually stimulate the body and prevent sleep, but cool temperatures help promote a comfortable night’s sleep.
- Your bed is for sleeping, not working. If you’re in the habit of working on bills, office, work, etc. while sitting on or in your bed, you might be inadvertently training your brain to be stimulated when you are in your bed. Also, it’s harder to walk away from work worries if you literally take them to bed with you! Try to keep your work in another room, or at least away from your bed.
- Keep it quiet in your bedroom. If you have trouble in this regard, use a fan or other source of white noise at night to drown out disruptive sounds. Ear plugs work great too.
Natural remedies such as lavender essential oil applied to the feet and neck and even on your pillow work wonders for restful sleep and you don’t have to worry about any side effects.
Do you prefer a cool room or a warm room when sleeping? I’m curious. Leave your comment below.
Tasha Nelson is a busy mom, wife and registered nurse who works the night shift at a large midwest hospital. She is also a total wellness enthusiast who firmly believes in the importance of taking care of yourself. A healthy mind, body, and spirit makes for a happy person. Isn’t that what we all want?