It is obvious that getting enough sleep is crucial for your overall health.
Getting enough sleep is vital when it comes to recovering from your workouts as well as cognitive and physical performance in general. However, the quality of your sleep is equally important. Here are some easy ways to modify your sleeping habits to ensure that you are getting the most out of your sleep.
1- Control Light Exposure
Allow light exposure to align with your circadian rhythm. This means light throughout the day should match the exposure that we receive naturally from the sun. When they are out of sync, the body gets confused to put it simply. Try to avoid blue light from electronics around bedtime, and dim the lights to help your body make the transition to resting naturally. Dr. Jonny Bowden explains that spending time on electronics near bedtime disrupts our circadian rhythm and inhibits our melatonin production. Similarly, you should keep your sleeping environment as dark as possible to ensure restful sleep.
If you can’t avoid electronics near bedtime download the app f.lux to automatically dim your computer screen after sunset. You can also buy blue light blocking screen protectors to fit on your smartphone!
2- Eat High Quality Carbohydrates at Dinner
Eating high quality carbs increases the serotonin production in the body. This transmitter has a calming and restful effect, which will help you get sleepy. Similarly, insulin release will counter the effects of the stress hormone cortisol and help you achieve a good night’s sleep. If your cortisol level is high at night, it will keep you wound up and alert when you want to go to sleep. The Poliquin Group suggests considering a starchy vegetable at dinner such as a sweet potato, boiled grains, beans, or a piece of fruit. If you are restricting carbohydrates earlier in the day, this will help your body wind down as you approach bedtime.
3- Avoid Being Sedentary; Exercise!
Exercise contributes to more restful sleep in people who were previously sedentary. There are some guidelines, however, when it comes to the role exercise has to play. Time your workouts so they are not too late in the day. The Poliquin Group estimates that the time between 3pm to 6pm is ideal because the cortisol spike from exercise will not negatively affect that night’s sleep. Additionally, melatonin production is not suppressed. Make sure you are not overtraining (or under recovering) because chronically elevated levels of cortisol will hinder sleep quality.
4- Use a Sleep Supplement
If sleep is an ongoing issue for you, consider using a quality supplement. Dietary deficiencies in magnesium and vitamin D have been found to disrupt sleep patterns and supplementing with these nutrients may help tremendously. Additionally, supplementing with melatonin can optimize your circadian rhythm. If you prefer to supplement with food, tart cherry juice will naturally increase melatonin secretion as well as decrease inflammation throughout the body. Dietary supplements can be a great way to help reset your “internal clock.”
-“Five Practical Tips For Excellent Sleep.” Poliquin – Healthy. Lean. Strong.Five Practical Tips For Excellent Sleep. Poliquin Editorial Staff, 1 Aug. 2014. Web. 12 June 2015.
-Bowden, Jonny, PhD. “Top Three Things To Do In Bed To Have More Energy And Lose More Weight.” Strengthsensei.com. Charles R Poliquin, 31 July 2014. Web.
-“The Super List of Practical Ways to Get Better Sleep.” Poliquin – Healthy. Lean. Strong. Poliquin Editorial Staff, 13 Aug. 2014. Web. 12 June 2015. -“The Wisdom of Napping.” Poliquin Lifestyle. Poliquin Editorial Staff, 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 12 June 2015.
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