We all feel better after a good night’s sleep and often feel terrible when we’ve had trouble sleeping. But do you know why? Sleep contributes to proper brain function, peace of mind and physical health. Some studies have shown that people who have trouble sleeping on a regular basis have difficulty making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and coping with change. Trouble sleeping has also been linked to depression.
In terms of physical health, your body repairs your heart and blood vessels while you sleep. This aids in cardiovascular health. Getting quality sleep also helps your body maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry or full, so it helps regulate your metabolism, which in turn helps regulate a healthy body weight. And of course our immune system needs sleep in order to fight off illness and disease. Getting enough sleep also improves memory as the brain is able to recharge. It can also limit inflammation. The benefits of quality sleep habits are nearly endless.
Unfortunately, falling asleep and staying asleep become more difficult with age. Because of this, people often think we need less shut eye than when we were younger. However, research has shown sleep needs remain the same throughout adulthood; we need between seven and eight hours of sleep per night. If you are having trouble sleeping, consider the following remedies to get the sleep you need and enjoy the health benefits of being well rested.
Exercise and sleep better
The number of sleep-related problems, unfortunately, increases with age, but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to high-quality sleep. Many doctors might prescribe medications to treat sleep problems. That may be effective but there is a natural alternative. Have you tried the natural remedy that’s proven to work? Exercise may be the medicine you need for high-quality sleep.
Exercise, no matter what kind, reduces stress and stress may be a major factor in disrupting your sleep quality. Anxiety and stress can prevent you from getting to sleep and staying asleep at night. Furthermore, exercise also leads to healthy fatigue of muscles which can lead to more restful sleep.
One study focused on 43 individuals with insomnia. They participated in an exercise regimen involving brisk walking and moderate resistance training. At the end of the study, the majority of participants reported better sleep quality, sleep duration and sleep onset. Even as little as 10 minutes of light exercise can improve your sleep, especially when done regularly.
The National Sleep Foundation’s website lists daily exercise as a top 10 healthy tip for better sleep. The foundation suggests “vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity.” It does caution to not sacrifice your sleep for exercise, however.
For better sleep, eat a well-balanced diet
When you think of food that affects your sleep, caffeine probably comes to mind first. But what foods can help you get some well needed siesta time? Melatonin is an important hormone for sleep and our bodies need a little outside help. You can find melatonin in supplements, but why not try finding it in nature first? Cherries contain tryptophan which turns into serotonin and finally melatonin, all supplements your body needs for sleep. Bananas also contain tryptophan, as well as potassium and magnesium, which are muscle relaxers. If you eat a banana 30 minutes before bed, your magnesium levels will go up while relaxing your muscles. Other foods that aid in successful sleep include:
- Chamomile or passionfruit tea
- Dairy products (warm milk, anyone?)
- Lettuce and kale
- Poultry (including that Thanksgiving turkey)
- Walnuts or almonds
Balancing out your diet with nutrient-rich foods aids your body in sleeping, both falling asleep and staying asleep. The balanced diet will also help with your exercise routine and give you more energy.
Sleeping troubles? Try acupuncture
The traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture is based on the theory that energy, or chi (pronounced chee), flows through your body along pathways. Thin needles are inserted into your skin at certain points along your body to stimulate nerves and muscles, increasing blood flow and easing pain. Acupuncture is said to help you feel more relaxed and less anxious, which encourages better sleep. So you may want to consider balancing out your chi to feel more restful.
You can try acupuncture, add nutrient-rich foods to your diet, go to your nearest fitness location or all of the above to help you get more zzzs each night. No matter what you do, make quality sleep a priority in your life. If you have trouble sleeping, the remedy may be within reach.