According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost half of Americans report they are not getting a good night’s sleep most weeknights. This might explain why sleep aids are a $32 billion a year industry. In addition to the monetary costs, a lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain, blood sugar issues, blood pressure and cognitive issues. Why are we spending all that money on something that should be free? Here are four free techniques to try to improve sleep.
Deep breathing. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests the following breathing exercise. First, exhale through your mouth. Then, close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for seven counts. Then, exhale for eight counts. Repeat the sequence three times. That technique is designed to reduce your heart and breathing rate and put you in a relaxed state, ready to fall asleep. Deep breathing has also been shown to help people get to the deeper stages of sleep and wake up less during the night. It even helps those who have chronically poor sleep.
Lower your core temperature. According to Dr. Shelby Harris, you can accomplish this by soaking your feet in hot water for 15 minutes, about 90 minutes before bedtime. The blood vessels in your feet will dilate with the warm water. This draws blood away from your core to reduce your overall body temperature. Lowering your core temperature is the key to triggering the production of sleep hormones.
Keep a notepad by the bed. One of the most common reasons given for difficulty falling asleep is not being able to “turn off” the brain. It is difficult to relax with a to-do list running through your head or ideas you don’t want to forget. Keeping a notebook handy makes it easy to jot those things down so you can clear your mind and go to sleep.
Remove all electronics from the bedroom. Multiple studies show a direct link between using devices in bed and not getting enough sleep. The blue light emitted from computers, tablets and cellphones disrupts our sleep hormones.
Hopefully this list of sleep hacks will help you get more restorative sleep. If you continue to struggle, ask your holistic doctor for help. You may need more specific recommendations on nutrition, supplements and exercise to achieve quality sleep.
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