Everyone knows that a good night’s sleep is awesome and important to a productive day. Waking up after eight hours of sound sleep is refreshing, and the whole day is generally better. However, millions of Americans are affected with sleep issues and problems.
Many people have a hard time falling asleep and more have issues staying asleep. Issues with sleep can be categorized within two realms: mind and body. If our day was very busy we need to unwind before bed.
If we had a stress-filled day or if your next day is guaranteed to be hectic we must dissolve those feelings before bed. If we eat poor quality processed food before bed we might be setting ourselves up for trouble falling asleep.
Things to Avoid Before Bedtime
A steady exercise session like jogging can relax your mind. If you finish your exercise more than an hour before bed, your body will recover with enough time to hit the sheets ready for sleep. Exercise that should be avoided before bed is intense aerobic workouts
that involve excessive mental activity.
Brain activity in regards to exercise are things like playing tennis, or football. This type of activity is very stimulating to the brain and may actually be a barrier to your sleep routine because it takes longer to calm the mind afterward.
Now all people are different and some folks may not be adversely affected by playing a racquetball game and falling asleep easily, but others may have a much more difficult time because of this increased level of residual brain activity. The idea is to relax your mind and body so transitioning to sleep is easier.
Stretching At Bedtime
An effective way to relax your body at bedtime is through stretching, yoga and deep breathing. No matter what your profession, all of our jobs take a cumulative toll on our body throughout the day. So at nighttime before bed, you need to stretch out tight spots in the back and loosen up the limbs and muscles.
Yoga positions and stretching focused on the back, hips and neck work very well since we are effectively relaxing ligaments and muscles to lay down for 8 hours. For a great compilation of videos on stretching and deep breathing exercises for bedtime check out Elisabeth Halfpapp’s Night Moves Series online.
Bedtime Foods To Avoid
Avoiding greasy fries, hamburgers, soda pop and candy before bedtime is vital to a good night’s rest. Sugar and fat are not ideal for the digestive system when you sleep. Simple carbohydrates and processed sugar cause spikes of energy that messes with feeling relaxed during the time we transition into sleep.
Other things to avoid before sleep is food that is loaded with MSG. Chinese food can sometimes have very large amounts of this chemical compound. MSG is considered an excitotoxin that overstimulates the brain chemically. Another chemical excitotoxin is called Aspartame, which a zero calorie substitute for sugar.
Aspartame is found in diet sodas and gum, it is in many ways worse for you than sugar. Aspartame doses in our body jack up the synapses in the brain which has a negative effect on normal sleep patterns.
Good Bedtime Foods
Foods to eat before bed that actually can help sleep are available. Gayle Reichler who is a Nutritionist has abloom dedicated to food and sleep in the Bedtime Network found online. She has a list of foods that assist the body to fall asleep and to replace the carbohydrate cravings.
Gayle suggests trying the following foods before bed if you can’t fall asleep. These foods can act to satisfy your cravings and be easy on your digestive tract while you are in laying in bed.
• Low-Fat Ice Cream
• Yogurt and Honey
• Fruit with Yogurt
• Jam with Toasted Bread
• Pasta with Olive Oil or Cheese
• Bean Dip and Pretzels
• Warm Milk with Honey
Eating wholesome unprocessed food is a good idea. A number of additives in the ingredients of food that are unhealthy are many and they should be avoided. Steady exercise will tire your body and make falling asleep easier. Breathwork and stretching exercises are great to put the body into a relaxed state of mind.
The trick here is to reach as deep of a level of relaxation as possible before bed to assist in with the transition to sleep. And to achieve relaxation like that good nutrition and exercise mixed with deep breathing and stretching are a solid foundation.