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Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the essential steps to maintaining good health and well-being, but for people who suffer from anxiety, depression, chronic pain, or insomnia, it can seem like an overwhelming challenge. But sleep deprivation can lead to some pretty serious health concerns if you don’t take care of it – including fatigue, weight gain, clumsiness, decreased alertness, and even lowered cognitive function.
While there are some medical options that can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, these can often come with side effects – and can even lead to a dependency. Fortunately, there are some natural ways you can improve the quality of your sleep, without risking the negative aspects that go along with pharmacological methods.
Spend time outside.
Getting outdoors for some time in the sun is a very effective way of helping to reset your body’s circadian rhythm, which is what triggers you to wake up and go to sleep. Spending too much time inside, in front of blue screens like a computer, television, or a cell phone, can throw off this natural cycle and make it difficult for you to get a solid rest.
Try to get outside for at least twenty minutes each day – spend your lunch break at a park, play in the backyard with your kids, or take the dog for a walk when you get home from work.
If you can spend your outdoor time doing something active to work up a sweat, even better! However, if exercise isn’t something you can handle, you can improve your sleep habits just by spending time in a sauna or a steam shower. The heat and steam work to relax your body and your mind, allowing you to release tension and rest well.
You’ll also feel more energetic throughout the day, if you can enjoy a steam shower or exercise on a regular basis.
Take out technology.
You’ll be able to fall asleep faster if you spend the hour before bed avoiding exposure to the blue light that comes from your cell phone or your television. Try to spend that time doing a relaxing activity like yoga, meditation, or just reading in bed.
Even better, leave technology outside of the bedroom completely. Stop relying on your phone to wake you up – use your alarm clock and keep your phone plugged in somewhere else. That way, even if you do wake up in the middle of the night, you won’t be tempted to check your social media or catch up on emails.
Check your diet.
The foods you eat have a direct impact on your body – and that can be either positive or negative. Things like alcohol and caffeine can wreak havoc on your body’s sleeping habits. While having a beer or a glass of wine might help you relax and fall asleep faster, your sleep won’t be nearly as restful, and you won’t wake up feeling energetic.
Caffeine is also harmful. This stimulant is regularly used to wake people up in the morning, and even as a pick-me-up during an afternoon slump. But drinking coffee too close to bedtime can prevent you from falling asleep and lead to a very fitful rest. Try to avoid coffee after lunch if you’re having trouble sleeping.
Instead, enjoy a cup of herbal tea and take supplements like melatonin that can help relax you and promote good, healthy sleep. Include plenty of varied fruits and vegetables in your diet to get all the nutrients you need, which will help regulate your body’s systems and keep your metabolism working efficiently. This will make you sleep much more soundly – and enjoy more energy throughout the day.
Incorporating these tricks into your daily life will help you fall asleep quicker and even reduce the amount of time you spend awake during the night. If you are still having trouble sleeping even after trying some of these suggestions, there may be an underlying mental or physical cause that will need to be addressed with your health care professional.
Don’t let insomnia keep you from feeling great and enjoying life! Use these tips to boost your energy, get your metabolism back on track, and let your body enjoy natural rest to heal and prepare for the next day.