Oh, how we love sleep. And it’s no wonder. Sleep is essential to just about every aspect of your well-being, from keeping the pounds off to boosting immunity and much more. Without enough of it, you’re left groggy, lethargic and fatigued, and nowhere near as productive as you can be.
And yet, getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night is no easy task. You’re busy, too busy. There are bills to pay, a kitchen to clean, social media sites to troll and TV shows to catch up on. Distractions may keep you from turning in at a reasonable hour, but it’s worth your time and energy to learn to commit to behaviors that result in better sleep quality and duration.
Rest assured, slight behavior modifications and nutrient-packed foods or supplements can help make the difference between feeling groggy and feeling well-rested. Your body, mind and soul with be forever grateful.
5 Simple Steps to a Good Night’s Sleep
1. Stick to a schedule.
You want to set a schedule of the same bedtime and wake-up time. This consistency helps regulate your internal clock and affects your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. You’ll wake more refreshed and energized when following a regular sleep-wake schedule.
2. Stop caffeine consumption by noon.
That jolt of your morning coffee is stronger than you may realize. As a stimulant, the effects of caffeine last for several hours – some say as many as 10 – and can keep you from falling asleep.
3. Minimize alcohol, especially late in the day.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, while alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, it also contributes to poor quality sleep once you’re out.
4. Stop screen time at least two hours before bedtime.
Seems like a no-brainer, we know, but so many of us fail to make it happen. Research shows that exposure to the bluish light emitted by cell phones, tablets, computers and TVs can keep us from getting a good night’s rest and leave us groggy the next morning. Try listening to an audio book or music, or reading a book before turning out the light.
5. Try a relaxation technique.
6. Make sure you’re getting the right nutrients.
While establishing healthy habits can make a noticeable difference in your quality of life, it’s also important to consider how your diet and the nutrients you ingest impact sleep. The fact is, how you’re fueling your body—or not fueling it—may be wreaking havoc on your energy levels. So make sure you’re getting the right amount of the right kind of nutrients.
Iron. Think about the cartoon character Popeye who, after pounding iron-packed spinach, becomes strong and powerful. On the flip side, when iron levels are low, we feel tired and weak. Low iron levels can be replenished through foods such as beef and lentils, and/or supplements.
Magnesium. One of seven essential macrominerals, magnesium helps make all of our cells function properly, including those that regulate sleep. A magnesium deficiency can zap our energy levels and also cause insomnia. Sunflower seeds, dark green vegetables, almonds and shrimp are some of the foods high in magnesium. Eat up, close your eyes and catch some zzz’s.
Vitamin D. This super important vitamin plays a role in many facets of our health, including sleep. A vitamin D deficiency is exceedingly common and has been shown to leave us tired and achy, and can affect sleep quality. Fortunately, our amazing bodies make vitamin D from sunlight exposure; however, many of us don’t see the sun all winter or use protective clothing or sunscreen. We suggest taking a vitamin D supplements if you’re levels are low, as a very small amount comes from only a few foods.
Doctors Romy Block Arielle Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are the authors of the award-winning book The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health.