Sleep plays a critical role in brain function and body health. You don’t need a scientific explanation to understand this: the day after a rough or short sleep, your brain is fuzzy, the mood is sour, and your body is achy.
Everyone has poor nights of sleep occasionally. Either you’re up fretting over some recent life event, or you had one too many coffees in the afternoon. It gets worrisome, however, when the restless nights are habitual. That’s when your “sleep debt” accumulates to the point where it impacts your overall mental and physical health.
Whether it’s one bad night or a long string of them, you want to ensure that tonight is different. A lack of sleep is making you tired – in more ways than one. To rectify the problem, try these simple tips.
Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a tension-relief method many sleep experts recommend. It involves tensing your muscles, one muscle group at a time, as you take a deep breath in. As you exhale, you relax each muscle group. Cycle through the following muscles, inhaling as you tense and exhaling as you relax:
- Upper legs
- And neck
When you’re finished, you should feel more relaxed. People with insomnia often report this technique working for them because not only does it relax your muscles, but it also makes you aware of where your body holds stress.
Swap Your Coffee for a Reishi Coffee
Experts recommend avoiding caffeine at least six hours before bed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a hot beverage. Instead of traditional coffee, try reishi mushroom coffee – a mixture of hot water and adaptogenic fungi. Reishi mushrooms have been used for centuries to promote relaxation, lower stress response and better sleep.
Traditionally used in East Asian medicine, these superfood mushrooms have enjoyed recent popularity in the west. Look for reishi mushrooms that are packaged in powder form and USDA-certified organic.
Temperature can significantly affect your ability to sleep. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 70% of people report that bedroom heat has a major impact on how well they sleep.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try cooling off. If you have access to air-conditioning or a fan, use them. If not, try ventilating your room (depending on the season) and keeping blinds closed during the day to lower the amount of radiant heat entering the room. Finally, kick off the sheets!
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
This last tip may be the hardest. If you can’t get to sleep, don’t beat yourself up about it. Often, people who have trouble getting to sleep start feeling anxious, annoyed or ashamed. This creates a feedback loop that can make you even less likely to fall asleep – and therefore even more anxious.
Instead of tossing and turning, get up and walk to another part of the home for a short time. According to one “veteran insomniac,” Dr. Brian Goldman, it’s better, in the long run, to be up and relaxed than in bed and frustrated.
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