Everyone knows that a good night’s sleep is important and that sleep is essential for a productive day. Waking up after eight hours of restful sleep is refreshing, and the whole day is generally better. However, millions of Americans are affected with sleep issues and problems. Many people have a hard time falling asleep and more have issues staying asleep. Issues with sleep can be categorized within two realms which are the mind and the body. If your day was very busy, you need to unwind before bed, it is that simple. If you had a stress filled day or if your next day is guaranteed to be hectic you must dissolve that residual stress before bed. If you eat poor quality processed food before bed you might be setting ourselves up for trouble falling asleep.
Things to Avoid Before Bedtime
A steady exercise session like jogging can relax your mind. If you finish your exercise more than an hour before bed, your body will recover with enough time to hit the mattress ready for sleep. Exercises that should be avoided before bed are intense aerobic workouts that involve acute mental activity. Excessive brain activity in regards to exercise is things like playing tennis or football. This type of activity is very stimulating to the brain and may actually be a barrier to your sleep routine because it takes longer to calm the mind afterwards. All people are different and some folks may not be adversely affected by playing a racquetball game and falling asleep, but others may have a much more difficult time because of this increased level of residual brain activity. The idea is to relax your mind and body so transitioning to sleep is easier.
Stretching At Bedtime
An effective way to relax your body at bedtime is through stretching, yoga and deep breathing. No matter what your profession are, all jobs take a cumulative toll on the body throughout the day. So at night time, you need to stretch out tight spots in the back and loosen up the limbs and muscles. Yoga positions and stretching focused on the back, hips and neck work very well because you are effectively relaxing ligaments and muscles to lay down for 8 hours. For a great compilation of videos on stretching and deep breathing exercises for bedtime check out Elisabeth Halfpapp’s Night Moves Series online.
Bedtime Foods To Avoid
Avoiding greasy fries, hamburgers, soda pop and candy before bedtime is vital to a good night’s rest. Sugar and fat are not ideal for the digestive system when you are sleepings. Simple carbohydrates and processed sugar cause spikes of energy that messes with feeling relaxed during the time we transition into sleep. Other things to avoid before sleep is food that is loaded with MSG. Chinese food can sometimes have very large amounts of this chemical compound. MSG is considered an excito-toxin that chemically overstimulates the brain. Another chemical excito-toxin is called Aspartame, which a zero calorie substitution for sugar. Aspartame is found in diet sodas, candy and gum. It is in many ways worse for you than sugar. Aspartame present in the body jacks up the synapses in the brain which has a negative effect on normal sleep patterns.
Good Bedtime Foods
There are foods to eat before bed that can actually assist in sleep. Gayle Reichler who is a Nutritionist has a blog dedicated to food and sleep. It can be found online at Bedtime Network. She has a list of foods that help the body to fall asleep and to replace the carbohydrate cravings. Gayle suggests to try the following foods before bed if you can not fall asleep. These foods can act to satisfy your cravings and be easy on your digestive tract.
- Yogurt and Honey
- Low-Fat Ice Cream
- Fruit with Yogurt
- Jam with Toasted Bread
- Pasta with Olive Oil or Cheese
- Bean Dip and Pretzels
- Warm Milk with Honey
Eating wholesome unprocessed food is a good idea. The amount of unhealthy additives present in foods is plentiful, and they should be avoided. Steady exercise will tire your body and make falling asleep easier. Breath work and stretching exercises are great to put the body into a relaxed state of mind. The trick here is to reach as deep of a level of relaxation as possible before bed to assist in with the transition to sleep. To achieve relaxation like that, good nutrition and exercise, mixed with deep breathing and stretching, are a solid foundation for better sleep.