6 Tips For Sleeping That Will Help You Look and Feel Better

Not getting enough sleep can be more harmful than you think. If you struggle with weight gain, memory fog, accelerated aging or depression, then you may not be getting enough of it.

It is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from sleep disorders. The CDC states that 9 million Americans use sleep medication and there has been a tripling in prescription sleep aids from 1998 to 2006 for young adults aged 18–24.

Sleep is critical for the maintenance of everything our bodies do for us. Without it, we experience an increase in cortisol, leading to weight gain, cravings, a higher susceptibility to colds and low libido. Lack of sleep has also been associated with depression because elevated cortisol suppresses production of serotonin, our feel good neurotransmitter.

Despite the harmful effect sleep deprivation has on us, we tend to overlook it. People today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. The fact is though: you can eat a perfect diet, exercise and take a lot of supplements but not sleeping enough will sabotage all your hard work.

Since sleep medication tends to have side effects, it’s best to start with more holistic options. Once you get into extreme sleep debt, however, it can be difficult to establish good sleep patterns without medication. So it is best not to ignore sleep disorders when they start. You may save yourself a trip to the doctor.

Below are six tips that may be all you need to get you sleeping well again:

  1. Refrain from computer use 2 hours before going to bed.
  2. Use blackout shades to make your bedroom pitch black.
  3. Turn off all digital devices that glow or give off any type of light. You can also install a program called f.lux on your computer or mobile device. It makes the color of your display adapt to the time of day, changing the blue light to a shade less stimulating. As stated in a Harvard Health letter, blue wavelengths emitted by electronic devices disrupt circadian rhythms and make it more difficult to sleep.
  4. If you’re on the hypoglycemic side, try having a small high protein/high fat snack before bed. Keep it modest in size so you don’t go to bed on a full stomach.
  5. Go to bed at least an hour before midnight. When you fall asleep, you go through a 90-minute cycle of non-REM sleep followed by REM sleep. Deep non-REM sleep happens more between 11pm-3am. This is the type of sleep that is more rejuvenating for the body. As the night goes on we tend to get less of it. Going to bed between 10:30 and 11 ensures you take full advantage of the time when sleep is the most healing.
  6. The right supplementation can be tricky for sleep disorders since there are diverse causes for them. There is one general recommendation though that most people could benefit to use. Many of us are deficient in magnesium. There are a lot of magnesium products on the market but I find Natural Calm to be a good first choice. It is important though to follow the directions on the label.

I do not recommend melatonin on a regular basis unless it is prescribed by your practitioner. Regularly taking any supplemental hormone undermines your body’s ability to make it’s own. This can foster a dependence over time and disrupt your natural sleeping rhythms.


About the author: Jeffrey Schifanelli is a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. You can reach him at: http://clinic-physique.com


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