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Woman Waking up from good night sleep

The Key To A Better Night’s Sleep Is A Healthy Lifestyle

Sleeping is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Our bodies need rest in order to recharge and replenish our body’s natural systems so that they’re performing to the best of their ability. Many of us have certain sleep issues, whether it be having a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or trouble waking up in the morning, whatever it may be, there’s certain changes you can make to your everyday routine that can help improve your nightly slumbers, and get you the eight hours you need to feel great in the morning. 

One of the simplest solutions for improving sleep is ensuring that you’re in a dark environment. Dark rooms obviously support better sleep as there’s less sensory stimulation. Light exposure interferes with our bodies natural sleep cycle and circadian rhythms; which is a fancy term that refers to when your body tells you to wake up and when to fall asleep. 

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Investing in blackout curtains is the easiest solution if your sleeping situation involves a room with a window that’s facing the sun at any given point in the morning or evening. Heavy and thick curtains not only block out the intense natural lighting of the outside world, but also encourages a more relaxed sleeping environment in general. Dark colored curtains will typically always do the trick, however, if a lighter color would better fit your rooms aesthetic, there are plenty of online options of light colored curtains with thick enough linings to darken any space. 

If you’ve done any research regarding sleep or insomnia, you’ve definitely heard about blue light emissions and their negative effects on our bodies ability to fall asleep. Electronic devices typically always have a “blue light” undertone that has been proven to disrupt our circadian rhythms specifically when we’re going to bed; as many of us like to mindlessly scroll through social media before falling asleep. 

This blue light suppresses the production of melatonin in our brains, which is the chemical that tells the rest of our body when it’s time for bed.  Some phones have a “night mode” setting that turns your screen a more amber hue to combat that harsh blue emission, and there are numerous screen-protector like products that do the same, however, the best thing you can do to promote a more solid night of sleep, is to avoid electronics at all cost at least an hour before going to bed. This can be tough for a lot of us who have developed a nighttime routine that involves some entertainment on our devices, but the only way to ensure you’re body will keep producing melatonin at a normal rate, and keep you rested throughout the night, is to unplug it all and read a book instead before bed. 

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What you eat and drink throughout a day also has a heavy effect on your natural sleep cycle. Depending on when you go to bed, you should stop eating at 8 pm the latest. The later in the night you eat, the more your body will have to digest while you’re resting. This is an issue because our bodies digest at a much slower metabolic rate when we’re sleeping, which can either lead to an unpleasant middle-of-the-night bathroom trip, or an overall feeling of grogginess in the morning. 

Following a healthy meal plan that avoids processed foods and sugars will also keep your energy levels in a more natural and stable state, so when it comes time to unwind, your body will have no problem doing so because it received all the necessary nutrients it needed throughout the day. 

Finally, along the same lines as a healthy diet, getting regular exercise will improve how well you stay asleep throughout the entire night. Even just 10 minutes of activity a day can show positive results. So many of us get trapped in the 9-5 bubble of sitting at a desk all day and then going home and just sitting on the couch to unwind. When you keep up with an active exercise schedule, you’re lowering your risk for certain sleep conditions such as sleep apnea. 

Regardless of what issues you have when it comes time to turn the lights out, keeping up with healthy lifestyle habits will always help improve the way your body functions, regardless of if you’re conscious or not.

Girl waking up refreshed

These Foods Can Help You Sleep

Eating before bed is typically frowned upon. Technically we all should stop eating by 8pm every night in order to give our bodies the proper time to digest and absorb all the nutrients we took in that day. However, as we all can most likely relate to, late night snacks or meals just seem to happen. Unfortunately, a lot of the foods we choose to eat before bed can actually prevent our bodies from getting a full night of complete rest, due to the fact that parts of our bodies have to keep working throughout the night to digest, but that’s not the case for all foods. 

Celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder works with the likes of Drew Barrymore and Kerry Washington, and also is a founding council member of the health and wellness blog “Well And Good.” Recently, Snyder wrote a study on some of the foods that actually aren’t bad to have before bed(in fact, they actually help us sleep). The study was released after she shared a post on her Instagram that showed a graphic of certain foods and drinks one can have before bed to help aid sleep. 

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The main thing to look for in late night snacks is obviously the ingredients. Certain ingredients that are in our everyday food choices help our bodies in different ways—the key is to find those foods which have benefits that involve muscle/mind relaxation and support easy digestion. 

Pumpkin seeds, for example, contain vitamins A and C as well as fiber. When these small compounds combine, the fiber helps your body easily digest, while the vitamins are able to absorb and support your immune system. Snyder included seeds on her list because they also have a high magnesium content, which she claims is a “calming nutrient linked to better sleep.”

Another food that’s definitely been on all of our midnight snack lists that also contains a decent amount of magnesium is dark chocolate. However, as a sweet, Snyder suggests to “try to stick to just one ounce or less of dark chocolate—it contains a small amount of caffeine which could keep you awake.”

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Like magnesium, tryptophan is another building block to many common foods that also helps to aid healthy sleep patterns. Tryptophan is an amino acid, and amino acids are the building blocks to all proteins. So chicken, eggs, nuts, etc. they’re all made up of different amino acids. Tryptophan is unique in the sense that it not only gives your body protein, but also has been proven to put the brain in a relaxed state that’s “similar to melatonin.” Popular foods that contain tryptophan that are light enough to enjoy before bed are brown rice, lentils, or spinach. 

Spinach itself is one of the more loaded “sleepy superfoods” as it contains both tryptophan and magnesium. Combining both compounds will double the effects on your brain and body. However, digesting leafy greens of any kind is not ideal for overnight. Snyder suggests if you want to have spinach before bed to aid your sleep, blend it up and drink it like a smoothie or soup. This way your body won’t have any difficulties digesting as you sleep; liquids are in general easier to digest compared to solids. 

Finally, a more commonly known sleep-aid is caffeine-free tea. “Caffeine-free tea has been shown to promote relaxation and sleep quality. For some, the ritual of having tea before bed signals the beginning of a bedtime routine, priming the mind and body for sleep. My favorites to sip on at night: chamomile, lavender, tulsi, and rooibos,” says Snyder.