it all starts with rest
Sleep! It is the most important factor in health and the most overlooked. Disrupted sleep leads to everything from concentration issues to lowered immunity and even obesity. It is vital to get "good" sleep as often as possible. Without the proper rest your body cannot recover from your daily routines. It does not matter whether your job is more physically or mentally challenging as both tax your system and require proper rest to recover from. Therefore optimizing sleep is the most importnat thing you can do for your physical, mental and emotional health.
Let's look at some easy ways to enhance sleep.
1) Temperature of your room: The temperature of your bedroom should be between 67-70 degrees to optimize sleep. You want it slightly cool which is a natural cue for your body to relax and preserve energy making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
2) Total darkness: In order to stimulate proper melatonin release to optimize sleep most people need a room that is pitch black. That means no glowing clocks, light coming in from outdoors, etc. Buy yourself some blackout curtains and cover the clock.
3) Nutrition: This may sound backwards from what you have been told before but eating a meal with a good amount of protein and good fats later in the evening will keep your blood sugar from crashing which is a major reason for awakening and is even thought to stimulate nightmares.
4) Take a cold shower or bath: If you are one who has issues falling asleep then try taking a cold shower or bath before bed. If you suffer from major insomnia you might even have to resort to ice baths for 15 minutes before bed but this will again much like the cooler room stimulate a natural response that calms the mind and forces you to sleep.
5) Pillow and Mattress: Simple! If you are uncomfortable you will not sleep. Having a good mattress and pillow combination is vital to a good night's rest. Yes the sleep number bed and the temperpedic mattresses are the best. Yes they are worth the money. Think of it this way...if you were to buy a new vehicle today you are likely to spend an average of at least $16,000 for something most people spend less than an hour a day in and yet your bed that you spend 8+ hours a night in (hopefully) you are not willing to spend $4,000-6,000? Sleep is more important!!
For a great pillow check out my post on the only pillow I endorse
6) Comforter: Wool comforters are the way to go here. Wool will keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The natural ones with non-toxic dyes are the best but any wool comforter is a major upgrade.
7) Schedule: If you can do it (meaning you are not on shift work) then go to bed at the same time as often as possible. I will vary from traditional thought here and say that there are days where sleeping in past your normal wake up time is not only encouraged but necessary depending on how stressful the week has been, but making sure you get to bed at the same time will train your body to go to sleep faster and reach deeper levels of sleep enhancing rest.
8) No alcohol or sleep drugs!!! These will make you go to sleep but they both inhibit REM sleep and therefore you don't get the reparative rest that you need.
Follow those 8 tips to start enhancing you sleep tonight and you will start noticing that your concentration improves, your energy levels rebound and even your pain levels will reduce.
I will have follow up posts to this with more advanced techniques for enhancing sleep
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