5 Tips for Better Sleep
The best way to stick to your resolutions? Go to sleep.
No, really. Sleep is fundamental for supporting practically every other resolution for health you've put in place. Sleep supports everything from the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates to our ability to learn new tasks to our stress hormone levels to optimal immune function. (Not to mention our mood; patience is key when trying to set new habits in motion and it's really hard to be patient when you're really tired.)
But getting good sleep is much easier said than done so here are a few tips to help you end the tossing and turning so you can get to sleep - and get on with the rest of your goals:
1. Take the Time to Transition
There is a reason that babies and young children sleep better after a bath, a good book, and a back rub; they are winding down from the day. As we get older, we tend to forget the transition period and go straight from the computer or the tv to the bed. Take a page out of sleep expert Arianna Huffington's book and "rekindle the romance with sleep". Establish a relaxing routine that sets the mood and allows your body - and brain - to prepare for rest. Start it 30-45 minutes before you turn in and repeat the routine each night.
2. Turn Off the Phone
According to recent studies, 71% of Americans sleep next to their smartphones. And check those smartphones right before going to sleep and frequently in the middle of the night. The blue light emitted by our phones acts as a stimulant, waking us up and making it harder to go back to sleep. Invest in an old-school alarm clock instead, or shut your phone down completely before turning in so that you aren't tempted to check it at three a.m.
3. Eat More Protein
A study in March in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
found a connection between protein in diet and the ability to sleep. The study found that "middle-aged adults who had a low-calorie, high-protein diet were not only able to better manage their weight, but had higher sleep quality as well." Add more protein throughout your day and when it comes to a bedtime snack, pair your protein with a carbohydrate for the most impact (think: cheese and crackers or Orgain Almond Milk
and whole grain cereal).
4. Be Mindful of Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that works by blocking the action of hormones in the brain that makes us feel sleepy. It's effective for stimulation in the morning, or when consumed in small amounts throughout the day, but be careful not to consume it too close to bedtime as its effect may last several hours and interfere with sleep. Opt for hot water with lemon for your afternoon pick-me-up instead, and try a relaxing nighttime tea as part of your transition routine.
5. Practice Gratitude
After your snack and tea and turning off your phone, end the day by thinking of three things you are grateful for. Grateful thoughts help turn your mind away from worry (over tomorrow's to-dos, your big presentation, a conversation that went sideways) and toward good thoughts. Helping lift your mind to optimism can relieve stress and support longer, more refreshing sleep. Before you close your eyes think back on the positive moments throughout the day or even better still, aim to practice gratitude throughout the day.
Happy shut eye!