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Healthy Steps for Healthy Sleep

May 17, 2020 | Family Resources

Have you noticed that you just don’t sleep as well as you used to? As our bodies age we tend to have more difficulty getting the rest we need because of our sleep patterns changing. We all know how important shut eye is, it plays a huge role in our health. A good night’s sleep is needed for memory and concentration, cell regeneration and boosting the immune system. Without enough sleep our bodies are at increased risk for diabetes, weight gain and cardiovascular problems, just to name a few.

There are many simple lifestyle changes that can help improve your sleep to take advantage of sleep’s many health benefits.

Nix mid-day naps

As nice as it feels to take that late afternoon snooze, sleeping now means that you might not sleep later. Instead of giving into the temptation, try the opposite. Go for a walk or find some other way to stimulate your body like playing a card game or calling a friend.

Get daily exercise and sunshine

Make sure that you are getting movement each day. A leisurely walk, some gentle stretches, dancing or gardening can help your body get the exercise it needs to function optimally. Regular exercise is also great for those who suffer from insomnia. Be sure to give your body a few hours between exercise and bedtime so when it’s time to get some sleep, your body is ready.

Sunshine is also incredibly important when it comes to regulating your body’s internal clock. Experts suggest at least two hours of sunshine a day.  Why not enjoy that cup of tea next to a window, sit outside while you read or visit with friends or soak up some rays while you take your afternoon stroll?

Insomnia fighting snacks (Turkey, you aren’t the only one!)

The best part about winning the sleep time struggle may be that a little snack before bed can actually help! Grab one of these sleep-healthy snacks:

  • Cherries, peaches and apples all contain magnesium which can calm your nervous system.
  • Popcorn, Bananas and oatmeal all contain high levels of tryptophan, the same ingredient that makes you sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal. They also are complex carbohydrates which can keep your blood sugar from fluctuating and waking you up.
  • Herbal teas are great at relaxing both your body and mind.

Avoid rich or sugary foods, big meals or spicy foods right before you go to bed.

Prep your brain for sleep

Did you know that the light from your TV or electronic device actually decreases your body’s level of melatonin, the sleep hormone? Even having the lights on too bright in the evening as you read the paper or work on a hobby can be enough for your body to trick your body into thinking it’s not almost bedtime. Try dimming lights and keeping things calm and quiet while you wind down for the evening.

You can also check your mobile devices and computers for “night shift mode” which tones down blue light and begins to give your body visual cues that it’s nearly time for bed.

There’s no better time than the present!

If you feel like your sleep just isn’t what it used to be, pick one of these action steps at a time to improve your sleep.  Don’t forget to fluff your pillows, it’s going to be a great night!

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