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4 Healthy Practices to Help You Sleep More


4 healthy practices to help you sleep more. Photo by Kevin Laminto

4 Healthy Practices to Help You Sleep More

I have always been someone who struggles with sleep. I am endlessly jealous of people who drift effortlessly into a dreamy slumber.
We all know sleep is good for you.


Some of the benefits of getting enough sleep include:

  • Feel energized
  • Improve concentration and productivity 
  • Live longer
  • Live healthier 
  • Reduces inflammation 
  • Strengthens emotional bonds to memories
  • Reduce stress
  • Help maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce depression 

The dangers and side-effects of not getting enough sleep include:

  • More accident prone
  • Lower sex-drive
  • Increase irritability 
  • Increase chance of suffering depression
  • Reduce cognitive function 
  • Increased chances of heart problems or having a stroke 
  • Increased chance of diabetes
  • More wrinkles
  • Weight gain
  • Increase chances of diseases such as Alzheimer's 

We are all familiar with the benefits of getting enough sleep and the pains associated with a lack thereof.

Did you know scientists only recently figured out what actually goes on when we sleep and why we need it

The simple answer is that when we sleep our brain flushes out all the toxins that have built up over the day. Sleep I basically a brain cleanse or a detox.
That is why the side-effects of a lack of sleep are so debilitating. Our brains are swimming in toxins!
This video explains more:

4 Healthy Practices to Help You Sleep More


In my lifetime of attempts to find the holy grail of sleep here are my top 4 healthy practices that actually help when you're struggling to get enough sleep.

1. Meditation

When I get into a good meditation routine I find I get to sleep so much easier.
You learn how to turn off that annoying chatter that lists off all the things you need to do and why you need to get to sleep so you have the energy to do them etc etc.
I also notice when I get out of the habit my getting to sleep worsens again.

2. Lavender Essence


A classic mind-calming herb. As well as calming you down for bed it can also cause vivid dreams.
Lavender essence doesn't seem to work for all sleep strugglers but for me, a few drops on my pillow works like a charm. If sleep is something that often eludes you it is definitely worth a try. If nothing else your room smells pretty.
Incorporate it into the start of your bedtime routine. It won't work very well if your try to use it once you're already struggling.


3. Turn your bed into a sleep sanctuary


I took a sleep workshop at University. I was hoping for a magical herbal formula that would knock me with ease into a blissful sleep, but instead, I got this. It actually works.
Only use your bed for sleep (& sex).
This helps train your brain so that it knows when you get into bed it's time to wind-down and go to sleep.
No more movies or finishing late night work projects in bed!
If you like to read or journal before bed and find it helps calm you down that is OK too.


4. Melatonin

This is not a permanent fix but it is very useful for traveling to help get your body clock in a new rhythm. 

Melatonin is a hormone we naturally produce in the pineal gland to help us regulate sleep. 

It is pretty safe, but there can be some side-effects such as headaches, dizziness, stomach cramps and irritability so make sure you read up before you take it. It's always a good idea to consult with a doctor first as well. Especially if you have chronic sleep issues or insomnia.

One study found people who took melatonin before bed fell asleep on average 3.9 times faster than those on the placebo.

Another study found people using melatonin only gained an extra 8 minutes sleep a night. But, for someone who has a chronic lack of sleep an extra 8 minutes sounds amazing. 

Taking melatonin supplements have also been found to increase REM sleep and promote a decline in rectal sleep temperature. I'm not sure what the rectal temperature part means but the increased REM definitely helps you to be a more functional human during the day!

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References:

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20171004/is-natural-sleep-aid-melatonin-safe

https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/89/1/128/2840303

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3656905/

4 healthy practices to help you sleep more. Photo by Alexandra Gorn

4 healthy practices to help you sleep more. Photo by Bruce Mars

4 healthy practices to help you sleep more. Photo by Charles Deluvio

4 healthy practices to help you sleep more. Photo by Jordan Whitt

4 healthy practices to help you sleep more. Photo by Sarah Gray


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