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great-sleep

How to Get Great Sleep

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Great sleep is simply great. The thought of putting your head down on your pillow, falling fast asleep, and waking up nice and refreshed should put a smile on anyone’s face.

We have all had great nights of sleep. We’ve experienced the type of mornings where we wake up recharged, rejuvenated, and ready to create a great day.

Cause of Fatigue

Unfortunately, we have all had sleepless nights when we toss and turn, our minds racing, unable to mentally slow down enough to drift off to sleep.

Episodes of insomnia can be extremely frustrating, and the frustration and anxiety caused by this problem can snowball as we are lying in bed fretting about the difficulties the next day will bring if we are unable to doze off and restore our energy. Getting a good rest at night, on a regular basis, can have a profound effect on your level of health and prevents you from feeling tired early in the day.

Related: Enjoy Great Sleep! 

It’s important that we make having consistent, high-quality sleep a priority. Rest and recovery need to be essential aspects of a person’s health promotion efforts. We need to create a lifestyle that supports restorative sleep, general stress-management and prevents pre-mature fatigue.

I’m not a big fan of the term “Life Hack”, but what follows are some tips and strategies to help you take your sleeping experience to the next level.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is an important part of optimizing one’s health and vitality. Exercise is a great stress reliever and a great way to establish a healthy rhythm to your sleep cycles as well. Simply put, exercising consistently is good for you. That is probably not a news flash for you, but many people do not exercise regularly and this can affect their ability to sleep in a major way.

I think the best form of exercise is what is known as interval training. Interval training consists of doing a number of different types of movements in succession at moderate to high intensity and minimal rest in-between each exercise. I like interval training because this type of exercise is very efficient as you can get a complete workout in a short amount of time.

Example of interval training:

But, the type of exercise that you do is less important than establishing a consistent habit of moving your body multiple times per week. There are a lot of things you can do: brisk walking, jogging, weight training, CrossFit, cycling, swimming, etc.

Get outside and sweat!

The exercise will reset your nervous system and help you destress and be healthier overall. And your healthier body will be able to fall asleep much more easily at night.

Try to exercise earlier in your day, so you are not “pumped up” too late in the day as this may affect your ability to relax at night.

Create Your Space to Relax

If you acknowledge that sleeping well is critical for being healthy, then you need to create the proper environment to prime your relaxation at the end of your day so when you get to bed, you drift off easily.

Create some separation in your schedule between your stress causing activities and your sleep. Create winding down “rituals” to ease into bedtime. Here are a few.

Hot Bath or Shower

Take a warm bath or shower. Allow the stress and tension of your hectic life to wash away as you bathe yourself. Be intentional about your bathing, don’t just mechanically go through the motions, breath deep and relax as you are showering.

A warm shower will increase the blood flow in your body, help to relax tense muscles, and stimulate the rest and relaxation regions in your nervous system. Try to shower about 30-60 minutes before you go to bed.

Breathe Deep

One of the best things you can do to manage stress and restore balance and harmony to your life is to breathe deeply and intentionally on a daily basis.

Here is great breathing exercise we teach to many of our practice members in our chiropractic practices. Deep, slow, and focused breathing stimulates rest and relaxation in your nerve system as well and can improve the chemical balance of your body internally.

Meditation and prayer are also great practices. Aside from the religious or spiritual benefits many derive from these practices, meditation and prayer can also lead to profound relaxation, ease, and stress relief.

Try meditating 10-15 minutes before you go to bed and see if that helps you to sleep better.

Eliminate Electronic Devices

Sleeping-Tips

We all spend a lot of time on our phones, computers, and tablets. It’s impossible to avoid or stop using them. We exist in a hyper-connected world with input coming from a thousand directions at once.

I recommend unplugging from these devices at least 30 minutes prior to going to bed. Stop looking at a screen and NEVER surf the internet from your phone in bed prior to attempting to fall asleep. The stimulus you experience while staring at the screen of your phone causes your innate stress response to be activated. This alone can lead to insomnia, laboured sleep, and ill-health.

I would also recommend leaving your phone completely out of your bedroom, especially if you receive alerts and vibrations throughout the night. Nothing can be more important than getting the sleep you rightfully deserve to end your day and to reset your body for the following one.

Do not use your phone as an alarm clock. Find one that provides the right amount of light, the right music or sound you want to wake up to, and one that perfectly fits the décor of your bedroom.

Don’t be a slave to your phone, unplug, relax, and sleep. I know this isn’t as easy as it sounds, but challenge yourself to it!

Read a Book

Another great habit is to read an old-fashioned book (not a tablet, Kindle, or anything like that) before you go to bed. Try to separate yourself from the motion of swiping or clicking, which you would’ve been doing for a large part of your day. Try to part from the artificial lights that have been straining your eyes throughout the day.

It is probably better to read a work of fiction that has nothing to do with your job or studies or anything you are trying to accomplish in your life. Stop trying to accomplish anything at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Find something you enjoy, something that helps you relax.

Read a fiction story that helps you to detach from the stresses of your life, and NEVER take your work to bed with you.

Eliminate Coffee and Other Stimulants

This might be tough, but try to eliminate or reduce your coffee intake. Fully eliminate things like Red Bull or other artificial energy drinks that are loaded with stimulants, artificial flavours, and sugars as well. These energy drinks are horrible for you and should be fully eliminated from your diet.

At least coffee, in its most basic form, is a natural product and can be consumed in moderation.

Coffee and stimulant-rich energy drinks rev up your nervous system, lead to inflammation, and spike your stress physiology. Avoid these drinks.

If you find it difficult to eliminate coffee, set yourself a time limit. Enjoy the taste of it in the morning, and try not to consume coffee after 11 am.

Try a Sleeping Potion

Have a warm cup of caffeine-free tea about a half-hour before you go to bed. I have been recommended Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime tea. This tea may not be for everyone, but give it a try.

Here’s a good DIY option:

Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of honey to one cup of hot water and stir well. Let it cool for a while and drink in one gulp if possible.

Honey-Apple-Cider-Tea
Honey-Apple-Cider-Tea

You can also try a glass of red wine. I would keep it to only one glass of red wine as excessive alcohol consumption will reduce the quality of your sleep.

What about Sleeping Pills?

Many people choose to take sleeping pills to help them sleep. My thought on this is similar to what I say about most forms of medication: drugs are a last resort. In the case of sleeping pills, I would say they are a last, last resort and should only be used in a legitimate crisis situation, which is very rare.

Of course, follow the instructions of your Medical Doctor, but It can’t hurt to try less invasive techniques first, right?

Ask yourself, “What is causing my sleeping problem?” I would almost guarantee that your sleeping problem is not caused by your body being deficient in some chemical sedative or other drugs. These drugs may mask the underlying cause and may have dangerous side effects. Go with a natural approach first and see how that works for you before filling a prescription.

Sleep is important for the health of your nervous system. But it is somewhat like asking whether the chicken or the egg came first. Because your nervous system needs to be healthy in order for you to enjoy good sleep too.

The Chiropractic Advantage

Spine problems can cause your nervous system to be thrown out of balance and have far-reaching effects on your health. Your nervous system controls, among many other things, your ability to integrate and manage your stress as well as your rest and recovery cycles.

Chiropractic adjustments restore the motion and alignment of your spine and optimize the function of your nervous system. Aside from feeling better after being adjusted, many of the practice members in our practices experience less stress generally, and improved sleep as their spine problems are being corrected and their nerve systems re-awakening.

Get your spine checked to see if chiropractic is right for you.

 

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