I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say:
Sleep is not a luxury. Sleep is a necessity. You need enough sleep to function in your everyday life. Sometimes it’s REALLY difficult to acquire the right amount of sleep.
Or is it?
Many factors may disrupt your sleep process and it’s different for everyone, but there are SOLUTIONS.
In this step-by-step guide, I'm going to show you how to fall asleep faster and achieve the best possible sleep, with easy steps you can implement today.
Read on to discover these simple fixes:
Quick Guide: Better Sleep Infographic
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8 Easy Tips On How To Get Better Sleep
1. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule + Routine
Set a consistent sleep schedule. Include nightly routines that help you wind down after long days. Opt for relaxing activities such as taking warm baths, reading or meditating. If done regularly, these actions help your body to know that it’s time for bed.
2. Monitor Your Food + Drink Consumption
For a restful night’s sleep, avoid too much sugar and heavy meals as well as drinks, such as caffeine and soda, especially after 2pm.
Photo credit + Copyright: Sharon Picone
When drinking alcohol, ensure you finish your drink two hours before your intended bedtime. It takes about a hour for your body to metabolize alcohol, after which your body will automatically wake up.
It’s better to enjoy a glass of warm milk instead.
3. Exercise Regularly
Regular physical activity helps you sleep better, although the timing can also be crucial.
If you’re someone who gets invigorated after a workout, avoid vigorous activity before bedtime so as not to experience a post-workout burst of energy. Intense daily workout isn’t absolutely necessary.
A jog or even a brisk walk is better than being inactive. Yoga is optimal as it helps to relax both your mind and body.
4. Limit Your Daytime Naps
Some people take naps regularly, and may find it difficult to sleep at night. If you need to nap, make sure to keep it short and before 5pm.
5. Manage Your Stress
Stress is one of the main causes of insomnia, resulting in anxiety and making it difficult to fall asleep. One way to relieve stress before bedtime is to practice breathing exercises. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing instead. We have listed some meditation exercises to help you achieve a restful and stress-free sleep.
6. Avoid Distractions
Turn off your television and laptops a hour or two before going to bed. Put aside your phone when you’re in bed. Not only are electronic devices a form of distraction that can interfere with sleep, the blue light emitted from their screens suppress the release of melatonin; the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle.
A hot, relaxing bath, surrounded by flickering candles, calms you + prepares you
for a restful sleep
7. Set the Right Mood
It’s recommended that you take a warm bath before heading to bed, and keep your bedroom cool. The sudden drop in temperature signals your body to produce melatonin, which helps you fall asleep easier. Your bedroom should be dimly lit, well ventilated, and free of any noise that may prevent you from uninterrupted sleep.
If you’re a light sleeper, invest in blackout shades and earplugs. Keep technology out of the bedroom, so that you associate your bedroom with only sleep and relaxation instead of work.
8. Provide a Comfortable Sleep Environment
A comfortable sleeping space is vital. Invest in a quality mattress and pillow as well as the best quality sheets and bedding that you can afford. There's a lot to be said for sleeping between soft, luxurious bedding and feeling it against your skin as you drift off into a deep slumber.
Most mattresses wear out within 7-10 years, so don’t hesitate to replace an old mattress that no longer serves you.
Train and prepare your body for nightly sleep by eating light meals,
setting the right mood by taking warm baths, reading or meditating
and creating a calm sleep environment.
Free Android Sleep Apps
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Free IOS Sleep Apps
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SLEEP CYCLE + ALARM CLOCK
- *Go To Bed (developer: Daylen Yang)
Can Pets Help You Sleep?
On this subject, sleep experts seemed to be divided on whether pets should share your bed at night. According to WebMD, it depends on your health issues, such as allergies, and/or if you typically suffer from insomnia. If so, Lisa Shives, MD, recommends that you keep your dog or cat out of your bedroom. However, she also states that there are numerous medical benefits to pets and some individuals feel calmer and safer with them nearby.
In our neck of the woods, we're all for having our four-legged friends sleep with us. So if you simply cannot say no to that adorable, little face staring back at you, we say go for it and snuggle up warm and cozy.
The Importance Of The Right Mattress + Pillow
Purchasing the right mattress and pillow is vital for restorative sleep. Online mattress brands make it easier to order mattresses and pillows. Here are 2 steps you should follow when looking for a new mattress and pillow.
1. Conduct Thorough Research
There are a plethora of mattresses and pillows on the market, and it’s important to research your options before purchasing. Listen to your body. If you experience chronic body pains or trouble sleeping, take these factors into account and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Choosing the right mattress and pillow is overwhelming, but once you find the right ones for you, the search will be worth it. If you’re purchasing your mattress from your local mattress store, pay close attention to the brand, type of mattress and the store’s return/refund policy.
If you’re purchasing your mattress online, most online brands offer a 90+ day test period, after which you can return the mattress if it doesn’t work for you. The same policy applies when you purchase a pillow online, though the test period may be less.
2. Test for Support
Both your mattress and pillow should provide adequate support for your body. Your body weight should be evenly distributed on the mattress for optimal alignment of your spine. There shouldn’t be any gaps between you and the mattress. A mattress that’s too soft does not provide adequate support for your spine, and one that’s too firm may cause more strain on your body.
Feeling the texture and material between your fingers isn’t enough to tell whether or not the mattress is comfortable enough to sleep on. Lie on it for at least 15 minutes and move around as you would on your own bed.
Your pillow also needs to support and align your neck and spine. A pillow that’s too flat, too puffy, or too firm strains your neck, shoulders, and back. Alternatively, a pillow that provides adequate support aligns your head, neck, chest and lower back.
Sleeping on the right mattress and pillow are key to restorative slumber.
Conduct a thorough research before making your final choice and purchase.
7 Best Food Groups To Help You Sleep
Recent studies conclude that diet can greatly affect your quality of sleep. If you toss and turn at night despite being in the comfort of your own bed, it may be time to change up your meal plan. There are a variety of key nutrients that help regulate sleeping patterns and hormones. If you’re a picky eater, rest assured that there are a wide range of food, herbs, and tea options from which to choose.
The hormone, melatonin, helps to control your sleep and wake cycle and derives from your pineal gland. Tryptophan, on the other hand, is an amino acid with natural sedative effects.
It helps produce and regulate other hormones in your body. Even a small boost of melatonin and tryptophan, combined with important vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium, help to regulate your body clock.
We’ve compiled the following list of food groups that you can munch on for a light snack
Grains, fruits + honey are natural relievers for insomnia
Grains + Dairy
Grains are rich in magnesium and are a natural reliever for insomnia. Oatmeal, barley, bulgur, cereal, rice, and whole wheat bread are excellent choices. Grains are also rich in carbohydrates that raise tryptophan levels in the brain.
Adding milk to your morning cereal provides Vitamin B6, and enough calcium to enhance the tryptophan’s ability to synthesize melatonin. This also works with dairy products such as yogurt
Vegans: Substitute cow milk with soy milk, almond milk or rice milk.
Gluten intolerance: Substitute whole wheat bread with bread made from amaranth or teff flour. Substitute wheat-based cereal with kasha (roasted buckwheat) or millet. The latter tastes better when cooked into a hot porridge. Add cherries and/or bananas to up the [nutritional] ante.
Cherries – more specifically tart or sour cherries – give your body a natural boost of melatonin. In a study done by the researchers of the University of Pennsylvania and University of Rochester, adults were instructed to drink a glass of tart cherry juice twice a day and found that it was the best sleep aid for insomnia.
Bananas are full of minerals that help regulate sleep, including magnesium, and potassium – both of which serve as muscle relaxants. Bananas also contain Vitamin B6, which improves the regulation of tryptophan and melatonin.
Summer Garden Salad
Photo credit: Sharon Picone
Who knew having a simple salad for dinner can help you sleep better? Lettuce contains lactucarium (also called lettuce opium), a milky fluid secreted by various species of lettuce, which is known to have effective sedative properties. Other green leafy vegetables such as
kale, spinach, mustard greens, and collard greens are loaded with healthy doses of calcium. James F. Balch, M.D., author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, writes:
"A lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium will cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep."
A lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium will cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able
to return to sleep.
Vitamin B6 helps your body produce melatonin. It is naturally present in many foods, including a variety of fish, especially salmon, tuna, cod, and halibut. Crustaceans, such as shrimp and lobster are also good sources of tryptophan.
A spoonful of honey daily goes a long way. Aside from improving your immune system, honey boosts insulin levels, which make it easier for tryptophan to enter the brain.
You can add honey to chamomile tea – otherwise known as the “sleep tea” – before bed to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
Walnuts are an excellent source of tryptophan + melatonin; two hormones that hasten
the sleep process
A handful may send you dozing off in no time: almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. Almonds are a good source of both tryptophan and magnesium — a known natural remedy for headaches. Walnuts contain both tryptophan and melatonin, which may help you fall asleep even faster. Meanwhile, pistachio nuts are high in Vitamin B6.
To help you sleep better, choose foods that contain the key nutrients
that boost melatonin and tryptophan -- a hormone and an amino acid
that regulate your body clock.
Guilt-free Bedtime Snacks Under 200 Calories
Choose any one of these combos. According to Fitness Magazine, the 50/50 mix of carbs and protein increases sleep-inducing serotonin levels:
- 1/2 cup whole-grain cereal + 1/2 cup non-fat milk [vegans: substitute the cow's milk with soy, almond or rice milk.]
- 6 ounces low-fat yoghurt + a sprinkling of berries
- 1 slice whole wheat toast + 1 tablespoon peanut butter [if you're like me and not a fan of peanut butter, substitute it with one of the following butters: cashew; almond; cashew/almond/sunflower seed combination; hazelnut; soynut; sunflower seed.]
- 3.5 ounces fat-free vanilla pudding + 4 graham crackers
- 1/2 whole wheat pita + 2 tablespoons hummus
- 1 oatmeal raisin cookie + 8 ounces skim milk
- 6 whole-grain crackers + a small handful of walnuts
It's perfectly acceptable to enjoy light snacks before bedtime.
The key is to choose wisely!
6 Best Herbal Teas To Help You Sleep
There are many people who swear by tea, claiming that it is one of the best natural sleep aids. Tea increases glycine, an amino acid that can improve sleep quality. While not everyone is a fan of tea, there is no denying that the beverage has a good mix of vitamins and minerals, which improve both physical and mental health, while providing a good night’s rest.
Tea is one of the best natural sleep aids
By far the most popular, chamomile tea lives up to its name of being the “sleep tea.” Chamomile is a traditional herbal remedy that for centuries has been used to fight insomnia and a variety of other ailments. Chamomile’s calming properties and its ability to ease anxiety makes it the best sleep aid, with little to no side effects.
Native to Europe and Asia, the Valerian root is used as a mild sedative and treatment for both insomnia and anxiety. The dried roots are usually prepared as tea and it’s advised to take it a hour before bed since its calming properties help shorten sleep latency.
Kava Kava is mostly popular in Fiji and other countries in the Southern and Western Pacific. The Kava Kava root has been used to make traditional tonics, ceremonial beverages, and natural medicine for centuries. However, in the West, it’s more common to use Kava root powder to make a thick brew of tea. Its calming properties help reduce anxiety, fatigue, and other stress-related symptoms. Kava Kava is also taken to help relieve muscle tension, and prevent the risk of sleep disorders.
Another classic and popular tea blend, lavender is highly recommended for insomniacs and sufferers of other sleep disorders. Its aroma and warmth perform as natural sedatives.
Inhaling the scent of lavender immediately alleviates stress and induces relaxation.
Otherwise known as Sweet Melissa, lemon balm has been medicinally used by Greeks for centuries. Formerly known as the “honey leaf,” the dried herb is usually enjoyed as tea to treat anxiety, insomnia and other sleeping problems. Its calming properties help relax muscles and other conditions that inhibit a good night’s sleep. Several studies show that mixing lemon balm with sleep-inducing herbs, such as valerian and chamomile, boast even better sleep.
Passionflower contains high levels of Harman alkaloids, a chemical which researchers believe holds mild sedative properties. It alleviates symptoms of anxiety, mental exhaustion, stomach cramps, and other ailments that may inhibit a good night’s sleep. Passionflower, or passionfruit, tea is considered generally safe as long as it’s taken in reasonable amounts.
The recommended dose is one cup before bed to ease anxiety and improve sleep quality.
This 7-minute video from Mountain Rose Herbs demonstrates how to properly prepare tea with a variety of organic herbs and tea blends
Tea is a natural sleep aid and improves mental and physical well-being.
Chamomile, Valerian, Kava Kava, Lavender, Lemon balm, and Passionflower
are all great choices for bedtime herbal teas.
Benefits Of Meditation For Better Sleep
Our body’s automatic response to the exposure of threat is to boost its release of
the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, which give us what is most
commonly known as an adrenaline rush.
Our body considers stress and anxiety
as a form of threat, causing us to
endlessly toss and turn at night.
While meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, physicians and therapists worldwide are only recently beginning to recommend the use of meditation to people who suffer from insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
Meditating for simply ten minutes before going to bed reduces physical and mental tension, and increases the chance for better sleep and relaxation.
Recent studies by Dr. Herbert Benson, Harvard doctor and director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, claims that mindfulness meditation is only one of the many techniques that evoke a relaxation response in the body. “Relaxation response” is a shift in the body that’s contrary to a stress response. The term was coined by Dr. Benson himself in the 1970s.
Mindful meditation is as simple as focusing on your breathing, and then gradually bringing your mind to the present instead of focusing on concerns that inhibit you to fall asleep.
The idea is to learn to let go of pressing matters and instead, focus on something calming or positive. It’s ideal to practice this meditation technique for around 15 to 20 minutes daily.
After a long, stressful day, it’s good to focus on something calm or relaxing as you drift off to sleep. Your image can be as general or as specific as you desire. Some people like to think about the serene movement of clouds, while others like to imagine the peaceful sounds and sights of the ocean.
Dr. Joyce Walsleben, PhD and associate at the New York University School of Medicine, shares that your visualization can be as detailed as wherever your imagination mentally transports you.
Counting + Breathing Exercises
These exercises may be the most common meditation technique. There are multiple techniques and it’s best to find one that works for you. Lie comfortably on your bed and count backwards from 100. Don’t overthink it, and simply start over when you lose track.
According to Dr. Kathy Doner, Internal Medicine and Hypnotherapy practitioner, another exercise is to lie on your back with your gaze upward. Take a deep breath and hold it.
On the exhalation, slowly count back from twenty. Let your body gradually relax in time
with every exhale.
Mindful meditation and breathing help you to release the anxieties
and stresses of your day. Both relaxation techniques put you
in a calm mindset before you sleep.
Benefits Of Yoga For Better Sleep
Make yoga practice a habit. It’s both a good form of meditation and exercise that may cure you from endless nights of restlessness. Practice this pre-bedtime yoga routine daily and experience restful slumber.
This 4-minute video, from Fitness Magazine, demonstrates 5 effective yoga poses
to help you relax before bedtime
A study from Harvard Medical School concluded that yoga improves the sleep quality of people suffering from chronic insomnia, and helps alleviate their symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and depression. This proves that yoga not only provides physical well-being, but also works as a form of breathing that improves your overall mental health.
Yoga is recommended for people who want a hassle-free routine to relax their mind and body
Similar to the effects of meditation, yoga provides physical and mental
well-being and improves your quality of sleep.
Benefits Of Exercise For Better Sleep
Exercise has been proven to be a natural remedy for insomnia and various other
sleep disorders. Doctors suggest exercise
as a better sleep aid than having to depend on pharmaceutical drugs.
A recent study published in an issue of Mental Health and Physical Health, led by Bellarmine University assistant professor Paul Loprinzi, revealed that consistent physical activity also improves sleep quality.
Additionally, people who practiced a weekly moderate to vigorous exercise routine also stated that they experienced a surge of energy and felt less sleepy during the day.
When to Exercise
Timing is vital for a good night’s sleep and to wake up feeling refreshed. However, it’s important to remember that your body responds differently after each workout. Daily moderate physical activity may enhance your quality of sleep in the same way that an intense workout late in the afternoon may reduce your likelihood for insomnia.
There is no “right” time to exercise. The key is to find what works for you and your body.
If exercise tends to stimulate your body and gives you a sudden burst of energy, then it’s best you exercise earlier in the day instead of late in the afternoon or in the evening.
What Exercises Are Best?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following types of exercises are best
to help you sleep:
- Aerobic, or cardio
- Strength training
Participants in one sleep study reported that they felt more alert during the day and experienced better sleep quality after getting at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly. It’s best to start out light if your body isn’t used to rigorous exercise, and then slowly increase your workout routine until your body adjusts.
An intense workout may tire you out faster, but taking it slow can save your body from experiencing sore and aching muscles the next morning.
Even low-impact exercise such as brisk walking, raises your body temperature before bringing it to a sudden drop post-workout. The benefits of regular exercise are as follows:
- It triggers your body to feel sleepy a few hours later.
- It resets your body clock, thereby reducing the severity of chronic insomnia.
- It decreases the effects of related symptoms, such as anxiety and depression.
- It reduces the risk of potentially life-threatening physical disorders, such as
sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
- It enhances your quality of sleep so that you wake up feeling well-rested.
- It energizes you to stay active throughout the day.
The study then further noted that physical activity of moderate intensity, such as aerobics
or walking for 30 minutes, reduced the time it takes for the participants of the study
to fall asleep.
Regular exercise keeps you energized, decreases anxiety and depression and helps you to fall asleep faster. The best types of exercise are aerobic,
strength training and yoga.
7 Best Essential Oils To Help You Sleep
There are various essential oils that address different needs. Varying in culture, the use of essential oils has been practiced for centuries for multiple purposes, such as:
- Household cleaning
- Personal beauty care
- Natural medicinal treatments
It’s important to note that essential oils do not treat any physical or mental health condition, but rather have certain properties that may elevate your mood and reduce certain symptoms. The benefits come from the antioxidants, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, thus acting as natural remedies and as one of the best sleep aids. Here’s a quick guide of the 7 best essential oils:
True Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is a favorite for both tea and essential oils, and for good reasons. Lavender is an effective natural remedy for chronic insomnia due to its therapeutic and relaxing properties. It’s best to use True Lavender as there are other variations of Lavender as well, such as Spike Lavender and Lavandin (Lavendar hybrida). While they have similar relaxing properties, True Lavender has the most sedating effect that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Like Lavender, there are several species of chamomile with similar sedative properties, but the most effective one is Roman Chamomile. If you suffer from chronic insomnia, we recommend that you combine True Lavender and Roman Chamomile Essential Oils for a more powerful blend. With its light floral aroma, Roman Chamomile also has relaxing properties that help relieve stress and nervous tension.
Marjoram Essential Oil
There are several essential oils that go by “marjoram” on the market. Individuals suffering from insomnia should use Sweet Marjoram, as it’s proven to be the only one that’s effective in treating sleeping disorders. It affects the nervous system, easing nervous tension and lowers blood pressure in the process. Sweet Marjoram’s calming properties alleviate hyperactivity and
Sweet Marjoram, True Lavender and Roman Chamomile produce a highly sedative blend when mixed together. You can adjust the amount of oil in your blend to suit your fragrance preference, although these three essential oils together make for the best natural sleep aid.
Valerian Root Essential Oil
The use of Valerian Root is by far one of the most common and fastest ways to fall asleep. Valerian Root has been used to treat sleep disorders for centuries due to its calming and highly sedative properties and helps you fall asleep faster, and remain asleep throughout the night.
A little goes a long way. One of the recommended uses is to simply place a dab on the inside
of your wrists.
Orange Essential Oil
Not only are oranges aromatic, but citrus oils generally have mood stabilizing properties that help with depression and reduce anxiety. If used topically, citrus essential oils tend to cause your skin to become photosensitive when exposed to light within 12 hours of use, so keep this in mind.
Bergamot Essential Oil
Another notable citrus essential oil, Bergamot, is well-known for its powerful mood stabilizing properties. Bergamot calms down agitated and hyperactive children, and its mood elevating properties help alleviate symptoms of depression. For maximum effect, mix Bergamot with
True Lavender to ensure the best sleep.
Again, as this is citrus oil, it’s advised to not use Bergamot essential oils if you plan to be exposed to sunlight. It’s best to only use Bergamot Essential Oils topically at night as it is extremely photosensitive.
Cedar Wood Essential Oil
Cedar Wood is known for its many substantial benefits. It acts as a natural
anti-inflammatory remedy, expectorant, antiseptic, tonic, fungicide, and powerful sedative. Its calming and sedative properties promote relaxed and uninterrupted sleep, making Cedar Wood Essential Oil most advantageous for insomnia. The oil eases your mind, soothes itching, and relieves tension and anxiety.
Regardless of its many positive features, it’s important to note that when used topically, Cedar Wood should be used sparingly.
High concentrations of Cedar Wood
may irritate your skin.
Unlike other essential oils, Cedar Wood
should not be ingested in any quantity
as it may cause severe damage
to your digestive system.
As natural remedies for insomnia, essential oils also have antimicrobial,
anti-oxidant + anti-inflammatory properties. The best choices for sleep are Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Marjoram, Valerian Root, Orange,
Bergamot and Cedar Wood.
How to Use Essential Oils
Steam inhalation: There are two common ways to use essential oils through steam inhalation -- by means of a diffuser or by adding 3 to 7 drops of essential oil into boiling water. Both the diffuser and boiling water vaporizes the oil for easy inhalation. You can do this before heading to bed, or have a diffuser ready at your bedside for your convenience. You also can make your own aromatic spritzers to use as air fresheners around the house.
*Here's what you'll need:
- 4 oz. spritzer bottles
- 3.5 ounces distilled water
- 3 teaspoons grain alcohol or vodka (you may substitute the alcohol with witch hazel)
- Essential oils of choice or as per following recipes
Make Your Own Relaxing + Calming Bedtime Spritzer
Lavender = 8 drops
Mandarin = 4 drops
Roman Chamomile = 4 drops
Ylang Ylang = 4 drops
Make Your Own Refreshing Room Deodorizer Spritzer
Orange or Mandarin = 15 drops
Lemon = 7 drops
Grapefruit = 7 drops
Mix distilled water and alcohol, or witch hazel, and add your essential oils of choice.
Shake vigorously to blend. Let your essential oil formulation rest for 24 hours to allow the oils to fully develop. Shake well before use.
A Word of Caution: Avoid using essential oils when pregnant as well as around young children and asthma sufferers. Some essential oils discolor fabrics and upholstery, so be mindful of where
An effortless way to reap the benefits of essential oils is to use it topically. Essential oils should not be applied directly onto the skin without being diluted in carrier oils first. Preferred carrier oils are usually organic and cold-pressed. A few suggestions include:
- Sweet almond oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Jojoba oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Avocado oil
- Olive oil
- Sunflower oil
- Sesame oil
Whether diluting an essential oil or adding it to a finished product, the oil concentration should only account for 1% to 2% of the total blend. Here are the guidelines:
1 oz = 30 ml = 600 drops of oil
1% of 600 drops = 6
Add 6 drops of essential oil for 1 oz of carrier oil or finished product.
1 oz = 30 ml = 600 drops
2% of 600 drops = 12
Add 12 drops of essential oil for 1 oz of carrier oil or finished product.
Essential oils should be incorporated into a massage oil, lotion or an aromatic spray to help your body to relax. You can also add approximately 6 to 8 drops of essential oil to a warm bath before going to bed so your skin absorbs the oil. Another way is to dab the lotion on the inside of your wrists, or rub them on the soles of your feet before bedtime.
NOTE: Be cautious if you have sensitive skin.
Essential oils may be applied topically as a lotion or aromatically through a diffuser or spritzer. To avoid skin reactions, all essential oils must first
be added to carrier oils before use.
Best Sleep Positions For Pain Relief
Best Sleep Position for Heartburn
Lying on your left side reduces nighttime heartburn symptoms, according to division chief of Internal Medicine at Eastern Virginia School of Medicine, David A. Johnson, M.D. This is supported by sleep specialist Priyanka Yadav, D.O., of the Sleep for Life Center in New Jersey. She says that due to the locations of your organs, sleeping on your left side places less pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter; the passage where stomach acid comes up.
Best Sleep Position for Back Pain
If you sleep on your side, utilize a body pillow by bending your knees and placing it between them to keep your whole body aligned as you sleep. Depending on your level of comfort, it may take awhile for you
to adjust to this new position.
If you sleep on your back, place a pillow
or two under your knees to help
maintain the natural curve of your back. Make sure to also support your neck with a pillow or rolled up towel.
Whenever possible, avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this position strains the
natural curve of your back.
Best Sleep Position for Sinus Pain
For sinusitis and congestion sufferers, lie on your side with your head propped up with an extra pillow to allow your nasal passages to open. Keeping your head propped up drains the mucus from your sinuses. Avoid lying flat on your back as it may build up the mucus in your sinus and clog your nasal passages during sleep. There is also a chance that your mouth can fall open as you sleep, and dry out the mucus in your sinuses.
Best Sleep Position for Shoulder Pain
If only one shoulder is hurting, avoid sleeping on that side. Sleep on the opposite side with your knees slightly bent, and embrace a pillow to your chest. If you sleep on your back, support the aching shoulder with a small pillow. If you are experiencing pain on both shoulders, lie down on your back with both arms relaxed at your sides (if you practice yoga, you know this as the "corpse" position).
Best Sleep Position for PMS
The best position to sleep when you are experiencing PMS is on your back. Place a pillow under your knees to keep your lower spine from arching unnaturally as it could cause back pain. If pain continues, add another pillow under your knees for additional support of your lower body. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides.
There are multiple positions to avoid that may actually worsen symptoms of PMS. Lying on your side puts additional weight on already sore breasts. Lying on your stomach and curling up into a fetal position adds pressure and weight on your uterus, which can result in
Best Sleep Position for Hip Pain
If you are experiencing hip pain, it’s best to avoid lying on your side since it could put pressure on your hip and worsen it. Instead, lie down on your back with a pillow or folded towel under your knees for added support. You can also place the pillow or folded towel under your lower back to alleviate the pressure from your hips. This works best for pregnant women.
If you are a natural side-sleeper, avoid lying down on your aching hip. Place a pillow between slightly bent knees to provide some pain relief. This will help keep your hips, pelvis, and
Best Sleep Position for Aching Jaw + Teeth Grinding
Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. While teeth grinding can happen without cause or symptoms relating to another condition, this can still leave you with an aching jaw. The best way to relieve yourself from the painful effects of bruxism is to lie on your back with your face up. This reduces the stress on your jaw from sleeping on your side or stomach, both of which can even increase the chances of teeth grinding while you sleep. It’s also less likely for you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth if you are sleeping on your back since it allows your jaw to fall into a natural, slack position.
Best Sleep Position for Stiff Neck
Have a pillow that supports the natural arch of your back. A pillow too flat, low, puffy or high can strain your neck muscles. The best position to relieve and avoid stiff neck is to lie down on your back with a pillow that supports and aligns your neck and spine. Avoid lying your head down on your arms. There’s no single pillow that matches everyone, but it’s best to use a relatively thin pillow to keep your neck and back in a straight position. For side-sleepers, a thicker pillow is best. This ensures that your neck and head remains centered and aligned with your spine. Sleeping on your stomach places unnecessary strain on your neck, back, and shoulder muscles, so it’s best to avoid this position.
By adjusting your sleep position and using a pillow for support, you may experience pain relief for a variety of ailments and types of pain.
5 Different Types of Insomnia: Causes + Effects
Some people handle stress better than others. If you don’t, you may find it harder to sleep at night. Acute Insomnia, otherwise known as short-term insomnia, is usually stress-related and more common than you think. It may be linked to various events happening in your life that may cause anxiety including getting a new job, receiving bad news, having to adjust to a new environment or problems in relationships.
It may also be caused by a sudden interference in normal sleeping patterns such as being assigned a night shift or experiencing jet lag. Since acute insomnia doesn’t last for more than a few weeks, sometimes even occurring for only one or two nights, it’s often left untreated.
You may suffer from chronic insomnia if you have difficulty falling and staying asleep and it occurs for more than a month. Many underlying issues cause chronic insomnia, such as sleep apnea or abnormally low levels of melatonin. Sometimes it may be a side effect of medications. If left untreated, chronic insomnia may last for years and become an inconvenience in your everyday life.
The term comorbid insomnia suggests that the insomnia is in relation to other conditions, and more often than not, it’s associated with various psychiatric symptoms. Major depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, mania, psychosis, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia are usually the individuals who suffer from comorbid insomnia. Some medications prescribed for aforementioned mental conditions may also further add to the risk of developing insomnia.
Sleep Onset Insomnia
If you suffer from sleep onset insomnia, you may find it extremely difficult to fall asleep, but once you do, you don’t experience any form of sleep disturbances. Sleep onset insomnia can be categorized under either acute or chronic insomnia, and symptoms can vary depending on frequency and pattern.
The term sleep onset insomnia is associated with an individual’s varying sleep onset latency. The causes for this type of insomnia are similar to acute insomnia and it's advised that you reduce your caffeine intake.
As opposed to sleep onset insomnia, sufferers of maintenance insomnia have no trouble falling asleep, but experience the inability to stay asleep. They are faced with frequent night disturbances that interrupt regular sleep patterns. Due to consistently waking throughout the night, maintenance insomniacs wake up feeling more exhausted than they did before going to bed. The causes vary, although many are similar to both acute insomnia and sleep
There are 5 types of insomnia of which the causes may be stress, sleep apnea, side effects of medications, mental health conditions or caffeine.
3 Sleep Types: Which One Are You?
One of the most common causes of insomnia is an active mind. Triggers may occur due to an incident that upset you earlier in the day to your having to adapt to a new job. Worriers are plagued with concerns that rob them of precious hours of sleep. They don’t necessarily struggle to fall asleep, however, they tend to wake up at random intervals in the middle of the night, and it would take awhile for them to fall back into a deep slumber.
Worriers are usually individuals who have a lot going on in their lives or who may need time to adapt to a change in surroundings. Their insomnia is definitely stress-related. If not treated immediately, this could be the onset for anxiety that may eventually lead to depression.
If you’re a worrier, there’s a solution on how to fall asleep faster that’s a lot easier than you think – although it may take some time and practice. It’s human to worry, and, more often than not, it’s unavoidable, but the first step is to remember that there is a time and place for everything. Shift your worries to daytime. It may take awhile, so do not pressure yourself.
If while you’re lying in bed getting ready to sleep and your mind is still racing, get up and jot down your thoughts and concerns, then set it aside and tell yourself that you will worry about it tomorrow. It helps to find a relaxation technique that works for you.
The most common technique is to clear your mind by focusing on your breathing. Make sure the room is quiet, put your phone aside, and try to avoid distractions as much as possible.
An inconsistent schedule may actually be a root cause for insomnia. Overstimulated people keep themselves so busy throughout the week that they end up being completely unaware of the time. They tend to read or work late into the night and lose track of time.
Once they’re in bed, however, their minds still aimlessly wander and may take a few minutes, or even hours, to calm.
The Overstimulated often experience vivid dreams, most of them rather unpleasant, due to the amount of stress. They wake up exhausted and sleep-deprived.
It’s difficult to plan a sleep schedule that fits well with your work schedule. If you’re one of The Overstimulated insomniacs, one solution is to set a time when you have to stop working and head to bed. Despite your erratic schedule for the week, a consistent sleep schedule
Figure out a relaxing routine that, ideally, you perform half a hour before your set bedtime. Consider taking a warm bath, reading, or simply practicing breathing exercises while lying in bed to calm you down.
If you have little time to spare take a nap. Relax for only a hour, and then get up regardless of whether or not you managed to doze off. By the time it’s evening, it will be easier to fall asleep faster. Sleeping too much at irregular intervals can interfere with your nighttime slumber.
The Night Owl
Some people feel more focused and awake at night. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a healthy habit. As with the Worrier and Overstimulated sleepers, Night Owls are also at risk for the negative effects of sleep deprivation. These include cardiovascular disease, obesity, and an increased risk of depression.
A report published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine made by Stanford University behavioral sleep psychologist Jason Ong stated that that Night Owls tend to be less consisted about their sleep-wake hours. This makes it extremely difficult for them to adopt healthy sleeping habits, causing them to experience extreme agitation and intense fatigue throughout the day.
Night Owls are advised to set an early bedtime. It may take some time to adjust, but it’s important to follow a consistent routine and gradually move your bedtime to a more reasonable time. Once in bed, switch off your lights, turn off your laptop or television,
and put aside your phone. The blue light emitting from these devices suppresses
the release of melatonin, which controls your sleep-wake cycle.
It’s suggested to dim the lights at least two hours before bedtime. Make time within your day
to do work, instead of staying up all night.
No matter what type of sleep problem you may have, making a few simple changes in your daily or nightly routine could be the answer for you
to experience better sleep.
How Sleep Apnea and Snoring Affect Your Sleep +
How To Overcome Them
What Is Sleep Apnea?
It persistently interrupts a person’s breathing during sleep, reducing the oxygen that enters the body and reaches the brain. Sleep apnea is considered one of the most serious and
life-threatening sleep disorders. If left untreated, this disorder could prove to be fatal.
Some of the symptoms may be dry mouth and throat, high blood pressure and fatigue regardless of whether or not sufferers have had their required hours of sleep.
The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, which consists of re-occurring episodes of breathing pauses that happen more than 10 seconds at a time. If you suspect that you suffer from sleep apnea, it's important to seek medical help immediately.
Sleep Apnea + Snoring
Sleep apnea + snoring most likely will disrupt your partner's sleep
People who suffer from sleep apnea are prone to snoring loud enough
to disrupt their own sleep as well as their partner’s. It is the most common
and evident symptom, and about a half of loud snorers suffer from sleep apnea.
Their breathing stops at irregular intervals, thus constantly waking up short of breath or with the feeling of being choked.
It's suggested that people with this condition sleep on their side, or with their head up at a 30- or 45-degree angle. They should, as much as possible, avoid the supine position (back sleeping) as it could only worsen the condition since it has the tendency to obstruct the airway passages.
Diagnosis + Treatment
To determine if you have sleep apnea, an otolaryngologist conducts a sleep study by evaluating the heaviness of your snoring. The test is conducted either at a laboratory
or in your home. If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, there are multiple treatments available.
The initial treatment is by use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) with a device that opens up your airways via a nasal mask worn during sleep. Over-the-counter devices can be bought to continue this treatment at home. Another common suggestion is undergoing an operation called Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) which removes excess soft palate tissue to open up the airways.
Sleep apnea and snoring disrupt sleep, placing the sufferer at risk for
high blood pressure and consistent fatigue. Sufferers should seek
medical assistance immediately.
10 Signs That You Are Sleep-Deprived
Mood Swings + Stress
Lack of sleep results in mood swings that cause irritability, agitation, anxiety, and depression – all of which are linked to insomnia. The smallest things begin to stress you out. However, other people also have a tendency to experience the opposite, and would instead act giddy and laugh constantly. Sleep deprivation is most evident by observing a person’s mental and emotional health.
Lapse In Judgement
Socializing and decision-making becomes confusing and complicated. Emotions deeply influence your judgement and response to stimuli. It becomes difficult to stay level-headed. Sleep deprivation causes the prefrontal cortex to shut down, which is the region of your brain that processes emotions, resulting in the inability to react to situations properly.
A Decline In Health + Chronic Health Problems
After a decline in mental and emotional stability, your body soon follows. Your body produces cytokines, which are small proteins that fight off infections and other viral diseases.
Sleep deprivation weakens your immune system, and getting rid of the common cold will prove to be a struggle. There is also a higher risk of developing life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, palpitations, diabetes,
Increase In Appetite + Weight Gain
Tempting treats + junk food are difficult to resist when you're sleep-deprived and fatigued
Photo credit + Copyright: Sharon Picone
Because you aren’t getting enough energy that regular sleep provides, your body will look for a substitute source of energy through an increase in ghrelin, the hunger hormone.
When you’re tired and sleepy, it’s difficult to watch what you eat. You invariably crave foods that help keep you awake. At the same time, sleep deprivation reduces your body’s level of leptin, hormones that suppress your appetite. Sleeping for fewer than six hours increases your risk of obesity since lack of sleep can greatly affect your metabolism.
A Decline In Productivity + Performance
Many people believe that it’s essential to stay up late to finish work without thinking about the consequences. Lack of sleep seriously affects your ability to focus, rationalize, and maintain cognitive function. You’ll notice a gradual decrease in motivation and sense of creativity. If it’s possible, it’s best to finish work on time and get enough sleep since waking up well-rested can improve your productivity and overall performance.
You may fall asleep at your desk in the middle of the day, or nod off during class or a meeting; or worse, you could fall asleep behind the wheel. It’s hard to concentrate. You might even experience small blackouts or lapses, called micro-sleep, which can be potentially dangerous. It’s your brain’s way of shutting down from over-exhaustion.
Memory + Speech Problems
When you have difficulty recalling experiences such as events that happened within the week, it may be time to adjust your sleep schedule. Exhaustion diminishes your brain’s capacity to pay attention, which keeps it from processing what’s happening around you.
You may have trouble remembering the right word even though it’s at the tip of your tongue or difficulty formulating proper sentences. Adequate sleep allows your brain to clearly process information and organize your thoughts.
Fatigue has the following effects:
- Keeps you from being able to control your eye muscles properly.
- Makes it difficult for your eyes to focus and you may find that you read everything upclose.
If you already have an imbalance on your ocular muscles, you may also experience double vision. When these symptoms begin occurring after a few sleepless nights, they only get worse if sleep deprivation persists.
Problem With Motor Skills
While stumbling a bit during the day can be normal, constantly tripping and bumping into things may be the cause of sleep deprivation. As mentioned above, lack of sleep can affect your eyesight, but it also affects your neurological function. Each movement takes a moment to process in your brain. Sleep deprivation impairs that function, thus hindering your motor abilities.
A decreased sex drive may be a symptom of sleep deprivation. According to The National Sleep Foundation, a waning libido is the cause of constant exhaustion and fatigue. At the end of the day, you won’t have energy left for intimacy. Alternatively, it may be a symptom of a more serious condition such as sleep apnea. If symptoms persist, it’s best to consult your doctor immediately.
Lack of sleep affects all areas of your life in a big way.
How Many Hours of Sleep Are Necessary
To Remain Healthy?
As you become older, your need for sleep also decreases considerably. Newborns tend to spend around 14 to 17 hours a day sound asleep. Toddlers generally need around 11 to 14 hours of sleep, and shift to only needing around 9 to 11 hours once they enter primary, or grade school. In high school, you were taught that you need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Upon entering adulthood, the necessary hours of sleep decrease to an average of
7 to 9 hours.
What Is The Best Time To Go To Sleep?
While it is constantly advised to go to sleep roughly between 8PM and midnight, the conditions vary from person to person. It’s less about knowing what time you need to sleep, and more about knowing what time you have to wake up. The release of melatonin in your body slowly decreases as you grow older, and that’s why you wake up earlier.
A study conducted by Paul Kelly of Oxford University states the following ideal wakeup times for different age groups:
- 9:30AM for people in their twenties
- 8:00AM for people in their thirties
- 7:30AM for people in their forties
- 7:00AM for people in their fifties
- 6:30AM for people in their sixties and older
Learn your circadian rhythm to find out the perfect time for each activity, including sleep, in a 24-hour timeframe. As an adult you should strive to achieve at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, so it's in your best interest to make the necessary adjustments.
The number of hours required to sleep varies from person to person, but the average for an adult is 7 to 9 hours. To determine how many hours is sufficient for you, consider what time you have to wake up.
5 Best Ways To Fall Asleep
Reverse The Process
When it pertains to trying to fall asleep, Lisa Meltzer, education scholar for the National Sleep Foundation, noted that “the harder you try and the harder you work at it, the more likely it is you’ll fail.” So instead of forcing yourself to fall asleep, reverse the process and keep yourself awake a little while longer until drowsiness kicks in.
If you find yourself tossing and turning, or wake up in the middle of the night only to find it difficult to go back to sleep, get up and do something that requires the use of your hands and your brain. Stay away from the television, laptop, or anything with a digital screen. The blue light suppresses the release of melatonin, which you need to keep a regular sleep-wake cycle.
Good alternatives, according to Richard Wiseman, a professor at University of Hertfordshire, are jigsaw puzzles and coloring books.
The 4-7-8 Method
The 4-7-8 Method is a breathing technique that will help you fall asleep in under a minute. Coined by best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weill, in collaboration with various wellness bloggers, following the 4-7-8 Method should help you relax by increasing the oxygen in your bloodstream, slowing down your heart rate, and releasing more carbon dioxide from your lungs. Andrew Weil, M.D. demonstrates in this video how to practice the 4-7-8 Method.
In this 3-minute video, Dr. Weil demonstrates his famous 4-7-8 breathing technique that he believes will have you asleep within 60 seconds
Meditation + Breathing Exercises
Previously we listed several meditation techniques and breathing exercises that can help you get the best sleep. These include mindful meditation, guided visualization, counting and focusing on your breathing, as well as practicing yoga regularly.
Aromatherapy is both relaxing and therapeutic. We have listed several of the best essential oils to use in order to reduce symptoms of insomnia and other sleep conditions. Add the essential oils into a warm bath to experience the full relaxing effect. Stepping out of the warm water and into cooler air will also cause your body’s temperature to drop rapidly.
The decrease in temperature slows down your metabolism, and prepares your body
There are 5 ways to effectively fall asleep. By incorporating any one or all of the methods, you'll be drifting off to "la-la land" in no time.
The Sleep Cycle: What Happens When You Sleep?
It’s important to get regular, uninterrupted sleep every night because each stage of sleep has an affect on your body. There are five stages of sleep, the fifth and final one being the REM sleep. It’s during the final stages of sleep that your body recovers fully from being awake.
In stage 1, your body is preparing itself for sleep. Your eyes and muscle activities are slow ing down, but you continue to drift in and out of consciousness and are aware of your surroundings. Stage 1 is what you would call being in light sleep since you can still be awaken easily. During this stage, some people experience sudden jerking of muscles called hypnic myoclania.
By stage 2, your eye movements stop, and your brain waves start to slow down, with occasional bursts of rapid brain activity called sleep spindles. You begin to lose consciousness and awareness of your surroundings. Your breathing and heart rates become regular. In this stage, your body temperature drops, so it helps to sleep in a cool room. This is the beginning of sleep, and the non-REM stage where most time is spent.
By this point, you are largely unaware of your surroundings. Your blood pressure drops, your muscles begin to relax, and your breathing is slow, but regular. In this stage, sleep spindles may continue to occur.
This is the deepest stage of non-REM sleep. You are harder to wake up. Together, stages 3 and 4 are called deep sleep. Eye movements and muscle activities have ceased. Because your muscles have relaxed, the blood supply to your muscles increases. This stage is when hormones are released, tissue growth and repair occurs, and your energy begins to restore.
Stage 5: REM Sleep
This stage recovers the lost energy from the day, and provides your body the energy it needs for when you wake up. Once your body switches to REM sleep, your breathing and heart rate quickens, and there is an increase in blood pressure.
Your muscles are completely relaxed at this point, however, your eyes are moving back and forth. Your brain remains active, and it is during REM sleep that you begin to dream.
REM sleep happens for 25% of the sleep cycle, and occurs around 90 minutes after
Your body goes through 5 stages of sleep. This cycle, when uninterrupted,
is vital for your health and helps your body to heal and refresh.
6 Ways To Train Your Kids To Get Enough Sleep
Getting the right amount of sleep is important for adults; however, it is even more so for growing children. On a similar note, sleep problems are not limited to adults. Children can have them too. In fact, it’s one of the most common difficulties experienced in childhood, which makes bedtime a challenging feat. If your kids persist on staying up,
there’s a chance that you may not be getting enough sleep as well.
Here’s how you can make your child’s bedtime convenient and highly effective:
Start a Bedtime Routine
As bedtime approaches, shift your children’s activities from stimulating ones to relaxing ones. Instead, opt for a warm bath, a glass of milk, or even a few minutes of cuddling. You can also ask your children what activities they would prefer doing. Make sure they avoid sugar and physical activity that could rile them up. Follow this routine every night as consistently as possible. This helps your children know that it’s almost time for them to sleep.
Establish a Sleep Schedule for Everyone
This schedule is for everyone in your family. It is important to get everyone involved to encourage your children to follow suit. You can have everyone in the house get ready together. Know how much sleep your children need, and set individual sleep and wake-up times. Consistency is important.
The blue light from digital screens – television, laptops, and smartphones – can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycles. Turn off the television and take away their digital games at least two hours before their assigned bedtime. Tell them that they can continue to play and watch television tomorrow.
Create a Calming Sleep Environment
Make sure your children feel comfortable enough to go to sleep. Have them wear their pajamas that are soft, but not too restricted or hot. Since their body temperatures drop when they sleep, make sure to also keep their room cool, but not too cold. Children have the tendency to kick their blankets off while sleeping.
Their rooms should also be quiet and dim to eliminate distractions. If they are afraid of the dark, provide them with a night light or leave the hall light on with their bedroom door
Sleep Is Not a Form of Punishment
Sleep is a necessity, not a punishment. It’s important to stress this to your children. Do not associate sleep with bad behavior. An example is telling them that if disobey you, you will immediately send them off to bed. Instead, ensure they know that sleep is important, and promote it as a positive experience. Tell them that sleep provides them with energy for tomorrow and helps them grow.
Deal With Sleep Troubles
Address bedtime troubles instead of dismissing them. If your children tell you that they are scared of the monster that hides under the bed, reassure them that the monster isn’t real. Check under their bed or their closets to prove it. If simple reassurance doesn’t work, make them feel like their bedroom is a safe space. You can do this by providing them with a night light or a stuffed animal that can “protect them.”
However, some sleep troubles may be health related, such as persistent sleep disorders or labored breathing. The effects of your child’s sleep problems will be evident by morning.
You will find them to be constantly tired and agitated. It’s best to consult your family
Sleep problems are not limited only to adults; children can experience them too. A sleep routine can be highly effective in teaching your kids to go to bed
in order to receive their much-needed rest.
There are many underlying factors that may hinder you from getting your required hours of sleep. Moving forward, commit to take care of yourself. Learn about what’s keeping you up at night, and find a solution. Hopefully this post has helped you to determine what steps you need to take, so that you may once again start to enjoy blissful, restorative sleep.
Now over to you! What techniques do you use to help you get better sleep?
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