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Top 10 Dietary & Lifestyle Changes to Sleep Well

  1. Avoid stimulants, especially caffeine. An average American consumes between 150 and 225 milligrams of caffeine per day (about 1-2 cups of coffee). In spite of the fact that this amount may be okay for many people, the ability to detoxify caffeine from the body varies dramatically between individuals due to the fact that liver enzyme levels differ among individuals. It may take 12 hours for some people to detoxify caffeine from a single cup of coffee. In case of insomnia, I suggest completely avoiding caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, drugs with caffeine, energy drinks) for 7 to 10 days.

  2. Invest in a quality mattress and pillow. Sleeping soundly will be difficult if you are physically uncomfortable and your mattress does not support your body adequately. Investing in a high quality mattress is an investment in your health, since you spend roughly a third of your life in bed. Try out a few mattresses in store to determine which style is most comfortable for you; however, the only true way to determine which mattress is best for you is to take it home and use it for a couple weeks. The store where you purchase your mattress should allow you to exchange it if you are unsatisfied with it. The myth that people with back pain need firm mattresses is untrue, so don't be afraid to experiment with mattresses that you might not normally try.  Last but not least, more expensive does not always mean better. You can only know which one works for you based on your body.

  3. Maintain a slightly cool bedroom temperature. Sleep quality can be negatively impacted by both too hot and too cold bedrooms. An ideal bedroom temperature is 64°F. A high bedroom temperature can cause some people to have unpleasant dreams.

  4. Establish a consistent bedtime routine. |It is good for the body to have a routine. Sleep and wake routines help maintain a consistent circadian rhythm of cortisol and melatonin release. Make sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, if you have difficulty sleeping.

  5. Exercise. Studies have consistently shown that exercising throughout the day improves sleep at night for people. The key to getting sleep-promoting benefits from exercise is not to exercise too late in the day. Spend at least 20 minutes exercising moderately in the morning or early evening.

  6. The lights in your home should be dimmed an hour before bedtime. Light cues (lower light) cause your brain to secrete melatonin, the sleep hormone. Our melatonin levels increase as the night gets darker, making us sleepy. It is possible for bright lighting in your home to inhibit this process. Using dim "night-time" lighting shortly before bed can help promote the secretion of melatonin.

  7. Napping should be avoided. Daytime naps can prevent you from falling asleep at night. You may want to nap the following day as a result of insomnia. Refrain from napping, even when you are tired, to break the insomnia-nap cycle. Get your energy back by taking a brisk walk in the fresh air. When it comes time to sleep at night, your body will thank you.

  8. No screen time 30 minutes to 2 hours before bed. |Depending on your sensitivity, electronics should be avoided for up to two hours before bed. In comparison with any other wavelength, blue light emitted by electronics suppresses melatonin production and negatively affects circadian rhythms.

  9. Avoid eating or drinking anything two hours before bedtime. The body needs time to digest food and to settle down. Those of us who wake up frequently to use the bathroom should avoid drinking water before bed. Many people find alcohol to be helpful in falling asleep. The problem may be that alcohol could be the cause of sleep maintenance insomnia, or frequent awakenings at night. Avoid alcohol three hours before bedtime if you have trouble sleeping at night.

  10. Keep your phone out of the bedroom while you sleep. People can be disrupted by phones and other electronics in the bedroom for a variety of reasons. First of all, if you get constant notifications, this frequent buzzing or ringing will constantly wake you up. Secondly, the frequencies emitted by the phones can interfere with the brain's ability to get a restful night's sleep. Keeping your phone out of the bedroom or putting it on airplane mode each night is your best bet.

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