Not getting enough sleep is a bigger problem than you may think. At least 70 million Americans suffer from trouble sleeping, with 40 million of that same group struggling with chronic sleep conditions, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports. Although common, sleep disorders can have devastating health effects. In fact, sleep-deprived women were much more likely to suffer from mental deterioration, including dementia and mild cognitive impairment, than their well-rested peers (45% versus 31%, respectively).
There is hope, however. Men and women alike can get a better night’s sleep, without taking dangerous, over-the-counter sleeping pills that may interact with prescription medication. Beat fatigue and poor quality sleep the natural way.
Here’s what you can do:
Eat Sleep-Friendly Superfoods
Eating healthy can actually help you sleep better, Joan Salge Blake, RD, tells CNN. CNN recommends “a light whole-wheat pasta dish with fresh vegetables, a little diced chicken breast, tomato sauce, and a sprinkle of Parmesan for dinner.” The meal is packed with healthy protein and tryptophan; your body will convert tryptophan to serotonin, an amino acid that encourages restful sleep.
For late-night cravings, CNN recommends a tryptophan-packed snack, like bananas and cottage cheese. Moreover, eating healthy greens can help curb anxiety, muscle and joint pain, and headaches, therefore promoting relaxation and quality rest.
Drift Off Using Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy helps combat sleep disorders,
Discovery Health reports. Lavender scents and oils
help you drift off to sleep; lavender is non-toxic and
promotes natural stress-relief and relaxation. Lather
up with lavender soap in a hot bath before bed, or dab some lavender spray onto your pillow.
Take It Easy At the Gym
According to researchers from Maastricht University and The Daily Mail, people are much more likely to benefit more from long, extended periods of exercising than short, strenuous bursts. “Low intensity exercise improves insulin sensitivity and blood lipid levels, which are indicators of diabetes and obesity,” The Daily Mail reports. “It was found that when energy expended was the same, cholesterol and lipid levels were significantly improved in the group that exercised over a longer period, far more than in the other two groups.”
High intensity workouts, moreover, may actually keep people awake at night-- especially if fitness buffs work out close to bed-time. For the best night’s sleep and optimal health benefits, make sure that you are up off the couch -- or your office chair -- during the day. If you prefer intense workouts, incorporate pulse-boosting sessions into your morning routine. Scheduling exercise at the start of your day will keep you awake during work, not at night when you should be sleeping.
Heat Up Your Nightly Relaxation Ritual
Bedtime rituals are not just for kids. Experts suggest that, by winding down before bed, we can train our bodies to get more sleep. The trick, U.S. News adds, is in literally heating up our nightly routines. According to researchers, taking a hot bath or sipping hot water actually raises your overall body temperature. As you cool down, your body will naturally relax, helping you settle into a deep sleep. Be warned, however, that this process can take a half hour or an hour. Do not drink hot water or take that hot bath if you do not have some time to spare.
Do not depend on unnatural over-the-counter meds to get to sleep. Getting too little sleep is equally dangerous and may ultimately lead to a slew of health problems, including mental deterioration and dementia. Use natural fixes, including sleep-inducing superfoods, low intensity exercise, and hot water or a hot bath, to get your best sleep.