Most of us grew up hearing the number "8" when it came to our health. We needed to drink eight glasses of water every day and we also needed to get eight hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, most of us are pretty hard-headed. Reportedly, 75 percent of us are not only dehydrated but chronically so while 40 percent of us aren't catching enough zzz's.
On the sleep tip, this is a problem because it's when we're sound asleep that our minds and bodies get time to refresh and recharge. As a result, our stress levels are reduced, our heart gets stronger, our memory levels improve, we lower our risk of anxiety and depression and even our cells produce more protein so that they can repair any damage that may have occurred to them throughout the day.
That's why, no matter what you've got happening on your to-do list, sleep has got to be treated as a top priority. Not just sleep…good sleep. If mentally you know all of this but, deep down, you have to admit that you're not getting the kind of quality rest that your body truly deserves, here are some tips that are sure to take your sleep experience to another level, just as soon as tonight (if you actually make the time to apply them!)
Eat Breakfast Food at Night
If you've never had an omelet or a piece (or two) of French toast for dinner, you don't know what you're missing! Not only is breakfast food at nighttime absolutely delicious, but certain ones can also help you to get the much-needed rest that you're after too.
The key is to eat foods that are high in complex carbs, protein, calcium, and tryptophan (it's what turkey is full of and why you want to fall asleep right after you eat some of it). Some of the foods that contain this combo are traditional breakfast ones including scrambled eggs, whole grain cereal or toast, yogurt with granola, bagels with salmon and cream cheese or a banana, raspberry and almond milk smoothie.
Take a Magnesium, Calcium and Zinc Supplement
Virtually every part of our body needs magnesium, calcium, and zinc. For starters, it keeps our nerves, bones, muscles, brain and cellular health intact. When our systems are deficient in any of these, it can trigger restlessness, anxiety and even insomnia.
I can personally attest to the fact that if you take this three-combo supplement about an hour or two before bed for about a week, you will end up having some of the best sleep of your entire life! Whenever I take it, I feel a noticeable difference in a good way. When I don't, sleep just isn't as awesome.
Turn Your Thermostat Down
I don't know about you, but I personally think there is nothing worse than falling asleep when I'm hot. The thing that I couldn't figure out for the longest is how I could go to bed feeling totally comfortable and then, in the middle of the night, I would be burning up. What I discovered is our body temperature changes, a few times, throughout the night. The way to not allow that to disrupt your sleep is by turning your thermostat down.
How low? Between 60-67 degrees is good. If you crack open your bedroom window (so that carbon dioxide fumes die down), that's even better. You'll stay cool and your electricity bill will be less expensive in the process.
Use Cotton Sheets
First question—how often do you change your sheets? You should be doing it once a week or once every other week. Your skin is constantly shedding dead skin cells; for the sake of your long-term health, you need to remove the bacteria from your bedding.
Second question—what kind of bedding do you use? According to sleep experts, sheets that are made out of a Pima cotton or an Egyptian cotton that have a sateen finish are best. What's so great about sateen sheets? They're softer. Also, for quality's sake, make sure to get new sheets every 18-24 months.
Oh, and if you're entering into menopause and you want to reduce the feeling of hot flashes in the middle of the night, look for moisture-wicking sheets. If you've never heard of those before, don't worry too much about it. Just ask a sales associate in the store where you're planning to purchase them to point you in the right direction.
Apply Essential Oils to Your Feet
I'm pretty sure that you've heard somewhere that lavender is great for helping you to fall asleep. Whether you decide to light up a lavender candle, sprinkle some of the oil on your sheets or even dab a bit underneath your nose, it has a way of relieving anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia-related symptoms.
What you might not know is if you want the oil to be the most effective, try rubbing some onto the soles of your feet about 30 minutes or so before turning in. The reason why this is such a smart thing to do is because your soles have five skin layers and absolutely no hair follicles. The combo makes the pores down there super-absorbent so that the lavender is able to get into your bloodstream pretty fast (which is why you should wear flip-flops when you're mopping the floor, etc.).
How fast? It shouldn't take more than 20 minutes before you're feeling super calm and very relaxed.
Blow Some Bubbles
Unless you have kids, you probably haven't blown bubbles since you were one yourself. But, believe it or not, it's another way to help you to catch some zzz's. According to a New York Post article, blowing bubbles is a fun form of deep breathing that helps to calm your nerves and relax your body.
It might sound crazy but hey, don't knock it until you try it!
Turn on Some White Noise
My last boyfriend was a music producer. A part of what that meant is, it was rare that he didn't want to go to sleep without some sort of music on. It drove me batty because while I'm a music lover as well, I personally like to sleep in silence. Or, at least until the past couple of months, I did.
What's changed? I really like the sound of rain when I sleep, so I've been playing white noise with rain sounds more often. When I read up on why I can sleep so well with those noises and not so well with music, I found that apparently when a noise wakes us up in the middle of the night, it's the change in frequencies that startle us more than anything. What white noise does is mask other frequencies so that it blocks out outside noise that has low, medium and high ever-changing frequencies that might disturb us.
White noise sounds that are really effective include rain, thunderstorms, the sound of a fan, ocean waves and pink noise. What in the world is "pink noise"? You can read more about here.
Put Some Beeswax on Your Hair, Skin and/or Lips
Here's a tip that I bet you didn't see coming. If you're someone who uses beeswax on your hair, whether you realize it or not, you're being pretty proactive when it comes to doing what is needed to fall asleep. That's because beeswax contains a compound called octacosanol. One thing that it does is lower the cholesterol levels in your body. The other thing it does is decrease your stress levels. The combo can make it easier for you to fall asleep.
Drink Some Coconut Water with Honey
If you don't have any coconut water in your possession, you definitely should get some. Although it's made up of 94 percent water, coconut water also contains a good amount of calcium and magnesium, which we already discussed are must-have sleep nutrients. Something else that coconut water has plenty of is Vitamin B; there are studies to support that a lot of people who struggle with insomnia are typically Vitamin B deficient.
If you warm coconut water up and put a teaspoon of honey into it, even better! Long story short, our brains need energy even to stay asleep. When it runs out, sometimes that's what wakes us up. Honey is a food that will give your brain cells just the energy boost that it needs so that you can stay sound asleep all throughout the night.
As a bonus, honey also helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels as well as support the release of melatonin within your system. Melatonin is what helps to keep your sleep/wake cycles in their proper balance.
Yep. I saved the best for last. Think back to the last time you had sex that was followed by a night's sleep. Didn't you have some of the best rest EVER?! The reason is because sexual activity (especially orgasms) boosts the oxytocin and melatonin levels in your system. Whenever that happens, it makes you more relaxed, which makes it so much easier to fall asleep quicker; more soundly too.
So, if you've been having a really hard time falling or staying asleep, have some sex first. It might be all that you need to catch some much-needed zzz's (probably a few other things that you've been needing too!).
Featured image by Getty Images.
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