Fall Asleep and Sleep Better

Millions of people suffer from a sleeping problem at one time or another, and for many, this can become something that lasts beyond a few nights. A lack of sleep can cause difficulties in concentration, irritability, moodiness and even the inability to perform simple tasks.

People that want to get better sleep may use sleeping pills, OTC sleep aids, all natural sleep aids or improve their sleep habits – tips below:

Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

When a person has difficulties getting to sleep or staying asleep, there are many simple things that they can do to help them to sleep better. This does not have to involve any type of surgical procedures, nor does it involve the use of potentially addictive medications.

  • Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
  • Get enough exercise during the day.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Quitting smoking is not only good for sleeping, but for good health in general.
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages during the evening, or at least not within two hours of going to bed.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages before going to bed.
  • Do not eat heavy foods before going to bed.
  • Do not take naps in the afternoon if you are having trouble sleeping as you want to be as tired as possible at your bedtime.
  • Try to relax before going to bed. Meditation and yoga are great techniques for getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Do not exercise heavily before going to bed. This will get the heart and brain revved up and makes it difficult to get to sleep and/or stay asleep.
  • Try to eliminate all distracting noises from the room, may people use earplugs or a sound machine for this
  • Try to eliminate all light from the room, dark curtains or (a night mask work well.
  • Make sure that there is enough iron in your diet.
  • Keep pets out of the room and your bed.
  • Do not read or watch television in bed. Your bed should be primarily associated with sleep.

Diet and Better Sleep

It is vital that people eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. This is not only important to help people maintain their weight, but also to avoid a number of other health issues, including not sleeping well. Not only is it important to eat the right foods, but it is equally important to know the best time of the day to eat these foods and what foods not to eat before going to bed.

You should avoid a heavy meal within two hours of going to bed and not to eat any rich foods just before going to bed, such as cakes and other sweet snacks.

Avoid these foods and drinks to promote a good night’s sleep:

  • Caffeine – Caffeine is a stimulant that works to keep you awake. Drinks that one should not have in the evening include colas, coffee, caffeinated teas (which may have more caffeine than coffee) and other caffeine-laden beverages.
  • Alcohol – Many people believe that having an alcoholic drink before bedtime will them to sleep better. Yes, alcoholic beverages will often make a person feel sleepy and the person may fall asleep faster, but they will have a harder time staying asleep through the night.
  • High-Fat Foods – Eating high-fat foods will keep the digestive system working overtime during the night, which will poor sleep quality.

Just because it is not good to eat heavy foods before going to bed, this does not mean that a person cannot have a bedtime snack. There are plenty of delicious pro-sleep foods that make ideal bedtime snacks. A great example is turkey. Who doesn’t find themselves sleepy following a turkey dinner? This is because turkey contains tryptophan, which causes drowsiness. Other pro-sleep foods include:

  • Chamomile Tea – There are many herbs which aid sleep, and one of the best-known of these sleep-inducing herbs is chamomile.
  • Bananas – This is a food that is loaded with melatonin and serotonin as well as magnesium, which is a known muscle relaxant.
  • Honey – Many people believe that sweets will make them hyper. But a small amount of glucose, such as a teaspoon of honey, will actually shut off the neurotransmitter orexin in the brain, which is related to alertness.
  • Milk – Mom was right! Having a cup of milk warm or cold before bedtime will help to promote a good night’s sleep. Why? Because, like turkey, milk contains tryptophan.
  • Oatmeal – This is not only a filling and delicious snack, it is also loaded with melatonin, which helps to promote sleep. Add a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey, and this makes a wonderful bedtime snack.
  • Almonds – For those who love a crunchy snack while they watch television in the evening, almonds are a great choice. They contain magnesium, which is a natural muscle relaxant, as well as tryptophan.
  • Whole Wheat Bread – Whole grains release insulin, which helps sleep-inducing chemicals, such as tryptophan, to reach the brain. An ideal evening snack is some toast made with whole wheat or whole grain bread, with a bit of margarine or honey for added flavor.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Everyone has a sure-fire technique for getting to sleep. Some of these techniques work and some of them do not, it all depends on the person. There are many excellent tools and techniques that anyone can use which will help them to get a good night’s sleep without the need for sleeping pills.

Relaxation Techniques – There are many different types of relaxation techniques that people use to help them to get to sleep. Many people swear by practicing yoga, as the slow stretching movements relax the muscles as well as the mind, making the body more accepting to sleep.

Meditation is another popular relaxation technique and is practiced by millions of people all over the world. Some people use specific music to help them to fall asleep. There are plenty of relaxation CD’s that are available, such as those that provide natural sounds, including ocean waves and rainforest sounds.

Sound or Sleep Machines – Many people find that particular noises such as white noise or ocean sounds help them to sleep. White noise also drowns out noises in your environment. Sound machines emit a soothing noise at a low volume, which not only helps many people to get to sleep, but also helps them to remain sleeping throughout the night. Some machines have a recorded sound, while others work by having a fan push air through ventilation holes.

The Effects of a Lack of Sleep

There are many adverse effects caused by a lack of sleep, both physical and psychological. Not only does sleep deprivation cause people to feel just plain tired, it can actually wreak havoc on physical and psychological health.

Physical effects include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Problems with weight
  • High blood pressure
  • Aches and pains in the body
  • Lack of activity

Psychological effects include:

  • Inability to pay attention or concentrate
  • Inability to perform simple tasks
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression

Why People Aren’t Sleeping

There are numerous reasons why people have difficulties sleeping. Millions of people all over the world suffer from sleep disorders, including insomniasleep apnea and other conditions that make sleeping difficult.

Most people require seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but the majority of people do not get nearly enough sleep. Even those who are sleeping for adequate amounts of time often report that their sleep is frequently interrupted. Common sleep disorders that may be impacting the quality of your sleep include:

Snoring – This is one of the most common sleep problems. Snoring not only makes sleeping difficult for the snorers but also for their partners. About 45% of all men and 30% of all women snore. Snoring occurs when the back of the throat narrows during sleep, creating a smaller opening for airflow and making the soft tissues vibrate. Snoring is not just a harmless irritant; it can interrupt your sleep and impair the quality of sleep.

Insomnia – Insomnia is a condition where the sufferers are unable to fall asleep or unable to remain asleep. It is the most common sleep complaint. Insomnia is actually just a symptom of inadequate sleep. It can be caused by a number of things, including stress, depression, certain medications, poor diet, excessive caffeine consumption and even travel.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Apnea is a condition that causes sufferers to stop breathing when they sleep. The airways become obstructed by the palate, uvula or tongue when the muscles are relaxed during sleep. People with this disorder snore more loudly than normal and wake up each time their breathing is interrupted.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) – RLS is a condition that causes pain or irritation and restlessness in the legs. Sufferers report the need to move their legs, many kicking out frequently during the night waking them up. Many suffers of RLS say that they feel like there are insects crawling beneath their skin.

Essential further reading:

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