Sleep is not optional. That is, it’s not optional if you want thriving health. It’s mandatory.
We all know that we don’t feel our best when we don’t sleep. Our mental capacities diminish, we feel fatigued, aches and pains become more dramatic, our mood suffers, and we just don’t feel right.
There’s also a reason why the term “beauty rest” is often used to describe a good night’s sleep. If you don’t get enough rest, you may notice dark spots under your eyes or that your skin looks less vibrant.
Sleeplessness causes temporary diminishment in the quality of life. But it’s very important to note that the effects of chronic sleeplessness don’t just last for a day. If your sleep is interrupted for years, it will have disastrous effects on the health of your body.
Chronic insomnia can increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, anxiety, and increased mortality overall .
The vitality of your body depends on the restorative processes that occur during sleep. Cellular repair is one of the hallmarks of sleep . Your body will not be rejuvenating itself if you are not getting adequate rest at night.
Your length and quality of your sleep affect the metabolic health of your cells, your hormone levels, and your immune function.
For instance, your cells will not metabolize glucose efficiently if you don’t sleep enough . Your blood sugar levels will rise and your chance of developing diabetes will increase.
Your hormones also won't be balanced if you don't sleep. You depend on sleep for the release of growth hormone, a hormone with many youth-promoting effects, as it is involved in the repair and rebuilding of tissues. Sleep deprivation can also screw up your cortisol cycle and make you have elevated amounts of cortisol in the evening. Actually, this stress hormone is supposed to hit rock bottom at night so that you can relax and sleep.
A good night’s rest is also needed to maintain a high-functioning immune system . When you don’t sleep enough, your immune cells spit out excessive amounts of inflammation . And inflammation contributes to the development of degenerative diseases like cancer and heart disease because of the damage it causes your body.
In essence, your body breaks down when you are chronically sleep deprived. And unfortunately, it’s estimated that 25% of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia.
The good news for us is that we live in a time when we have knowledge about sleep and how to fix it. There are plenty of lifestyle, diet, and supplement hacks to put you to sleep and help you stay asleep.
Medical doctors usually use powerful pharmaceutical medications to help their patients sleep. But these medications sometimes have nasty side effects, and many may even harm our health in the long term.
Take, for instance, one popular sleeping medication, Ambien. Though rare, there are scary effects that occur in some people such walking, eating, and even driving while asleep ! Imagine getting out of your bed in the night and doing things that you don’t remember doing. That’s unsettling.
Perhaps more importantly, hypnotic drugs like Ambien are linked with three times higher chance of death ! The exact reasons for this decrease in health have not been determined, but it is troubling.
With this in mind, it’s good to know that there are natural ways to promote healthy sleep. Practice the right lifestyle, diet, and supplemental habits, and you will be sure to get a better night's rest.
Let’s look at the ways in which you can dramatically increase your chances of getting a good night’s rest in a natural and healthy way, without the nasty side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.
Your lifestyle has a big impact on your sleep in particular keeping your nervous system in a relaxed state. Here are a few things you can do to help relax and avoid stress/anxiety induced sleeplessness.
Just get some moderate exercise on a consistent basis. You don’t have to do anything crazy. No over-the-top painful drenched-in-sweat workouts needed. Just walk for a half hour, ride your bike around a bit, and do some pushups.
Researchers say that “exercise could be a healthy, safe, inexpensive, and simple means of improving sleep” . Exercise uses up your energy stores and improves your neurotransmitter functioning so that you’ll be able to sleep better.
This one might sound boring, and maybe you’ve heard it before. But in our always-plugged-in world, it is important to remember to not stare at phone or computer screens shortly before bed. Your brain could be too stimulated by these devices, and sources of light can interrupt the production of melatonin, a hormone that puts you to sleep.
Try to go to bed at a similar time every night, and developing a routine (i.e., taking a bath, reading a book) can make it easier to fall asleep as well.
Studies have shown that practicing meditation can significantly improve sleep quality . Researchers found that meditation decreases activation of overactive nervous systems and lessens mental worry .
A simple meditation involves closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. This relaxes the nervous system and calms a racing mind.
What you eat affects how you sleep. Here are some dietary tips for slipping into sleep more easily.
Eat generally at the same time every day. It doesn’t have to be down to the exact minute, but studies have shown that consistent eating patterns make for better sleep . Things will go better if your body knows your routine.
Research has also showed that eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with better sleep quality . The reasons why this is true are not completely clear, but it might be because the vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content of these foods improve cellular functioning in general.
Refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and sugary junk food is associated with poorer sleep quality .
Cherries are naturally high in the sleep hormone melatonin. Since this hormone helps ready your body for sleep, consuming cherries before bed could send you to sleep more easily .
Milk is high in tryptophan and B vitamins. Tryptophan turns into serotonin, and serotonin can be converted into melatonin in the body. Both serotonin and melatonin are calming hormones. B vitamins are cofactors in the production of serotonin.
Kiwis, like cherries, are high in the sleep hormone melatonin .
Larger amounts of caffeine have been associated with poor sleep . So if you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t guzzle the coffee all day or try decaf. You might experience detox for a few days but the sleep benefits will be worth it.
Magnesium is a mineral that helps you feel calm. If you’re deficient in magnesium, you’re more likely to feel stressed and anxious, and researchers have found that the body’s stress response system can become dysregulated due to magnesium deficiency .
It’s not too much of a surprise then that magnesium can improve your sleep. Researchers have carefully measured a number of indicators of sleep quality in people after the supplementation of magnesium. They even measured hormones. Pro-sleep melatonin increases, and anti-sleep cortisol decreases . It took much less time for people to fall asleep, and the “severity” of their insomnia markedly decreased .
This is an incredible amino acid that is found naturally in green tea. It has tremendous effects on the brain. L-theanine puts the brain into a relaxed state, as evidenced by the alpha waves it elicits . Alpha waves indicate that the brain is in a relaxed state, similar to a state achieved after meditation. So you’re practically a Buddhist monk after you take L-theanine.
L-theanine puts the brain into a relaxed state, as evidenced by the alpha waves it elicits . Alpha waves indicate that the brain is in a relaxed state, similar to a state achieved after meditation. So you’re practically a Buddhist monk after you take L-theanine.
L-theanine can lessen the time it takes to fall asleep in those who have hyperactive minds, like those who have ADHD .
5-HTP is an even more direct precursor of the calming neurotransmitter serotonin than tryptophan. Fortunately, you can supplement with this serotonin booster, and it will surely increase your pre-bedtime levels of serotonin. That serotonin will help ease you into sleep, and some of it also converts into the sleep hormone melatonin.
This is an herb native to northern Asia that research has demonstrated curbs anxiety and stress. Stress and worry are major disruptors of sleep, so anything that eases your mind and body will surely help with sleep.
Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of phellodendron in combating anxiety . It’s possible that this herb increases the calming neurotransmitter GABA in the brain . Many sleep medications target this neurotransmitter.
Velvet beans are legumes that are known to induce sleepiness, and they have been traditionally used in ayurvedic medicine.
Researchers have tested a slew of sleep characteristics in response to a supplement containing velvet bean. Sleep quality, time it took to get to sleep, and amount of sleep disturbance all improved . Researchers also note that velvet bean increases growth hormone production, and this may improve sleep quality .
Sleep quality, time it took to get to sleep, and amount of sleep disturbance all improved . Researchers also note that velvet bean increases growth hormone production, and this may improve sleep quality .
We’ve talked a lot about melatonin in this ebook. One direct way of increasing it in your body is simply to supplement with it. That’s right. You can just take a supplement with this hormone in it!
Before you resort to powerful medication to put you to sleep, know that there are many healthy ways you can naturally soothe yourself to sleep.
Now that you know that, implement these tips to get a good night’s rest so that you’ll feel your best. Your long-term health will also be rewarded and preserved to a better degree if your cells are rejuvenated and repaired during the night.
Practice good habits, and use food as well as the vast arsenal of natural ingredients to put you to sleep.