13 Sleep Hacks to Get Better ZZZ’s

Improve your snooze!

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Words by Alyssa Zepeda
March 2nd, 2016

Do you ever wish you could squeeze in an extra few minutes of sleep each morning, even sacrifice breakfast, for only ten more minutes? Every day we scramble over thoughts of how we can be more successful, productive and healthy. People tend to only focus on work, diet and exercise for achieving their goals and forget that it is just as important to get a healthy night’s sleep. So if you are having trouble getting shut eye or just want a few tips for a cosier slumber we have compiled a list of sleep hacks to help you improve your snooze!

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Eat Smart

Whenever we eat too much and slip into an uncomfortable food coma we become sluggish. Our stomachs need to be completely at ease in order to fully fall asleep so try to avoid overeating. Also watch your intake of high carb spicy foods particularly in the evening, as they can upset the stomach and take a while to digest. Here’s a tip: Try eating seafood at dinner such as a low mercury fish. This food is high in omega-3’s which helps your sleep process. If you’re struggling to get the right vitamins and minerals from your daily diet, read more about the supplements to try to aid your sleep.

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Avoid long naps

Taking an hour plus snooze will only temporarily fix drowsiness and give you a quick  burst of energy but can significantly affect your sleep patterns at night. Especially if you are taking naps at different times each day, this will confuse your daily routine and sleep cycle. Your body has the most energy at early hours of the morning but can significantly drop alertness around noon so if you must nap, take a 20-30 minute snooze between 1 and 3 pm.

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Alcohol

When we drink alcohol close to bedtime our body misses the first couple of sleep cycles and goes straight into a deep sleep. After the alcohol starts to wear off, our body goes into the sleep cycle, REM (rapid eye movement), which is very easy to wake up from. This is why sometimes when we consume a lot we tend to wake up only after a couple of hours. Instead of experiencing all 7 stages of sleep, it only allows us to go through two, leaving us feeling exhausted for the next day. So if you are craving a couple of drinks try to consume them three hours before bed to let your body process the alcohol beforehand.

Raw honey

You can get more deep sleep when you take 1-2 tablespoons of raw honey. Healthy brain energy comes from sugar (glycogen) stored in your liver, so having a little extra (naturally occuring) sugar before bed can increase healthy brain function at night.

Bedtime routine

Our brain loves specific patterns and likes to know what is going to happen next. Try having a pre-ritual routine that is outside of the bedroom. You can read a book, wash your face, take a bath, or write down a couple of notes for yourself for the next day. Just ensure they are calm and relaxing activities to wind down after a busy day.

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Get the perfect amount of sleep

7 to 9 hours is a healthy sleep range for adults. You should count back from the specific time you need to wake up and try to fall asleep at the same time every night. Again, routine is key!

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Stop worrying

Leave your life obstacles, big decisions and daily stressors at the door! Instead of shutting down at night our minds can race with stressful thoughts and this can rob us of an entire night’s sleep (worst case scenario). We can even carry it over to the next day by waking up in a bad mood or sending our brains into over drive, thus prohibiting a successful day. Instead, try to focus on taking deep breaths or in extreme cases try downloading a meditation app such which helps you focus on falling asleep.

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Music

Many people enjoy listening to a playlist while they dose off, but in fact, increased tempo and jarring noise can disrupt the quality sleep. Especially if a party anthem happens to switch on next! If you must listen to music choose light, soothing sounds to lull you to bed.

Keep it cool

The cooler the better. A mild drop in body temperature induces sleep but make sure the room isn’t too cold, as a steep drop or rise in temperature will cause you to waken from your slumber. Having a thermostat set between 68 and 72 degrees makes for the perfect temperature.

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Lose the electronics

The pervasive glow of electronics can impose on your quality of sleep. Smart phones, laptops and tablets produce all types of light but mostly emit blue light. Blue light is dangerous because it prevents the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with the quality of sleep. The overload of information we are gathering from social media sites before bed also delay the process of the mind from winding down.

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Exercise in the morning or afternoon

Working out increases your adrenaline, heart rate and body temperature which can make it difficult to fall asleep if you do it close to bed time. Try working out in the morning or the afternoon to get your metabolism running for the rest of the day.

Use the bedroom only for sleep

Using the bedroom only for sleep will strengthen the association between bed and sleep so avoid doing everyday tasks on or in your bed such as studying, hanging out or getting ready. Several studies of communication technologies have linked any devices in bed to negative sleep. Yet another reason not to bring your phone to bed!

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Black out

Turn everything off or use a sleeping mask! The TV, the glow from your tablet, the blinking light from your phone, the alarm clock and the night light can all cause an interruption in your sleep rhythm thus not receiving all the beauty sleep that you deserve.