The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.
Most everyone knows that they should be getting more sleep—that’s a no-brainer. But knowing doesn’t necessarily translate into doing. Chances are, if you aren’t getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night, one of these is to blame:
- You haven’t made sleep a priority.
- You find it difficult to fall asleep.
- You fall asleep with ease but have trouble staying asleep.
If you relate to any of the above three points, consider implementing the eight simple tips below to help you achieve a peaceful night’s rest. Tip eight even offers the opportunity to fulfill Fx Pillar #6 – Remember functional foods.
Tip #1: Turn Down the Lights
This may seem obvious, but did you know that light suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep and wake cycles? Before climbing into bed, take time to turn down the lights and make your bedroom a calm, quiet and dark space. This also includes not exposing yourself to bright lights from the TV, e-readers and your cell phone at least thirty minutes prior to getting into bed. If you do find yourself using electronics before bed, consider investing in a pair of blue light-blocking glasses.
Tip #2: Turn Down the Heat
A cool bedroom is key to getting a good night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65°F and says that sleep is actually disrupted when temperatures rise above 75°F or fall below 54°F.
Tip #3: Prioritize Sleep like you Prioritize Hygiene
You wouldn’t think of leaving the house without brushing your teeth, would you? It’s time to recommit to sleep by rearranging your schedule to get just thirty more minutes of shut-eye each night. Then, gradually bump it up in 30-minute intervals until you reach 7-8 hours. This may mean turning off the TV a little sooner or saving the laundry for tomorrow.
Tip #4: Hydrate
Although it’s probably not a good idea to drink a lot of water before bed, it’s important to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day because most systems in the body are affected by hydration status. For example, when you’re dehydrated, you may experience symptoms like headaches, dry mouth and nasal passages and muscle cramps—which can all interfere with sleep.
Tip #5: Be Cautious of Alcohol and Caffeine
Even though alcohol can make you sleepy at first, excess consumption can cause sleep disruptions and decrease the quality of your sleep.
A caffeine jolt in the late afternoon or early evening can also seriously disrupt your sleep. Vow to avoid caffeinated beverages and foods after 3 pm. These include chocolate, coffee (including decaf), non-herbal teas (green, black and white teas), energy drinks and waters, soda and mocha and coffee or chocolate-flavored ice creams. If you are especially sensitive to caffeine, you may want to consider an earlier quitting time.
Tip #6: Wind Down Your Mind
To help calm your mind, try listening to soothing music, reading a non-work related book (like poetry, a biography, a novel or spiritual text) or meditating. You’ll be more likely to settle into a restful sleep if you do these activities at least 30 minutes before bed. Remember, blue light from computers and e-readers suppresses melatonin, which is especially bad for sleep. Choose only physical books to read before bed or wear blue light-blocking glasses.
Tip #7: Set a Bedtime Alarm
You set an alarm to wake up, so why not set one in the evening to remind you it’s time for bed?
Tip #8: Consider Natural Sleep Aids
Instead of reaching for sleeping pills, which can leave you feeling groggy and out-of-sorts the next day, try a natural sleep aid. All of the following natural sleep aids are found at Heinen’s and can help you in your quest for more rest. Please check with your healthcare provider before beginning a supplementation regimen, especially if you are on any medications.
- Sip on a Cup of Golden Milk: A lovely warm turmeric beverage that you can make or buy. Check out Gaia Golden Milk in Heinen’s Wellness Department, or try this recipe for homemade Golden Milk.
- Heinen’s Magnesium Glycinate: Known as the “relaxation” mineral, magnesium is a supplement that can be taken daily.
- Holy Basil: An herbal supplement that creates a sense of calm by lowering anxiety. Opt for the Himalaya or Gaia brand at Heinen’s.
- Valerian root: A popular herbal solution to improve sleep quality and relieve insomnia. Opt for the Gaia brand.
- Sleep-Promoting Herbal Teas: Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night Tea or Yogi Bedtime Tea are great options.
- Heinen’s Lavender Essential Oil: Smelling this calming herb can help you relax by slowing your heart rate, decreasing blood pressure and lowering skin temperature. Put a few drops in a diffuser and get ready to drift off into a blissful, deep sleep.
Sleep is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. For a better night’s sleep, choose one of the above tips (or two if you’re an overachiever) and make it part of your nightly bedtime routine starting tonight!