Tips for better sleeping

Food could give you more energy if you eat smart.

If you are always tired and don’t sleep well your diet may be the culprit. There are five simple things you can do to improve your sleep, lose weight, and improve your health. While some of these suggestions may seem unappealing, the long-term benefits you will get for your sleep, weight, and health are worth it. Make these changes gradually, start implementing them one day a month (first of each month perhaps). Do that for two months then implement them for two days a month (1st and 15th).

Two months later implement them for one day a week. After doing that for two months, implement them for two days a week (Monday and Wednesday). You guessed it, after two months do them every other day. Finally, implement them Monday to Friday and enjoy your freedom on the weekends. This gradual approach will make the pain of adjustment small. These goals are measurable, easy goals that will build momentum as you slowly change your lifestyle and watch your health improve. The full plan will take a year to implement, but remember we are changing lifestyles, not crashing a diet so go slow and enjoy.

Always Tired – Try To Eat Whole Food

Eat less processed food. Decrease the amount of food that is pre-made. If you can’t look at your food and identify it, stop eating it. I’ll give you an example. You have a plate of mashed potatoes, green beans, and grilled chicken breast. You look at the plate and you can identify your food.

Simple, right? A meal that doesn’t pass this test… you pull something out of the microwave, unwrap it, and find something wonderful that has some chicken and rice and other stuff. Fail. If you look at the ingredients and don’t know what they are – that also fails. We’re looking for foods you can identify. Note – beverages in cans and bottles are also subject to this rule. They cost you lots and give you little so cut them as much as possible on your “on” days. There is a great book that can help you understand this perspective more – here is a link.

Drink Water

Drink a big glass of water 30 minutes before you eat. While it may sound strange, some researchers believe that drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before you eat can make you feel full and prevent you from eating as much. Not many experts will tell you this because there is no money in having you drink water before you eat. It works, so do it.

Cut Out Dessert

Cut out dessert. Sugar decrease your quality of sleep so cut it out. While you may be able to make a simple dessert that passes the rule 1 criteria above, don’t do it. The sugar will spike your insulin which also isn’t great for losing weight. If you can wean yourself from sugar and sweet foods your body will adjust and you will appreciate food that is less sweet. The craving you get for sweets will also go away.

Alcohol and Snoring

Don’t drink alcohol with dinner. Studies show that drinking decreases sleep quality and makes you snore. This could be part of the reason you are always tired.  People find drinking helps them relax and go to sleep, so they drink in the evening. The problem is twofold. First, this will decrease your deep sleep which is important part of your sleep. If you lose deep sleep, you will benefit less from the sleep you get and your health will suffer. The second problem is the relaxation you get from drinking will also relax the muscles that cause you to snore. So, drinking will make your snoring worse because the muscles that relax and close your airway, causing you to snore, are now more relaxed. We discussed snoring in another article for more details.

Exercise

Walk 15 minutes after dinner. Those who weigh less tend to have less sleep problems so we want this new lifestyle to involve some weight loss. This doesn’t have to be crazy – remember your college days when you walked everywhere? Your metabolism was higher because you were younger and because you were more physically active. Walking is easy on the joints and can boost the metabolism. If you can do this after breakfast or lunch that is even better. However, if you can only make time after dinner get the whole family out for a 15 minute walk. There’s a reason dog walkers are thinner.

Remember, these tips don’t have to be hard – implement them slowly so you change your lifestyle. You can have more energy and stop being always tired.  You put weight on slowly so you can take it off slowly. If you burn 100 calories (one potato chip) more than you eat a day you will lose a few pounds a year – in ten years you’ll be back in great shape. Remember, this is a long-term change.

Also, cutting down on sugar and alcohol will improve sleep – you still get the weekends to do what you want so no reason to panic. If you are always tired, these suggestions will help you gain back energy and improve your health.  If you are always tired and don’t sleep well there are four easy things you can do to start sleeping better tonight.  The key to making these four things work is consistency.

Your body responds well when it knows what is coming, especially when it comes to sleep.  That is why consistency is so important, because what you want (good sleep) and what your body does (primes for sleep) will happen at the same time.  The result will be better sleep.  The second key is controlling the environment so things like temperature and sound don’t disturb sleep.  The four keys to prevent you from being always tired are:

 Sleep Consistency

Go to sleep within one hour of the same time each night.  This will ensure your body knows what to expect and primes your body for sleep.  Your body can adjust about one hour per day so keeping it within an hour each night is key.

 Sunlight Therapy

Get direct sunlight each day.  Getting some sun (wear sunblock) is a strong signal to the body that helps orient the body to the day and night cycle and can prevent you from feeling always tired.  The corollary is to get good darkness before bed.  Dim the lights and  don’t watch bright screens as you prepare for bed.  If you can’t get the sun you need a  special lamp.

 Unplugged Life

Unplug a half hour before bed.  Let your mind unwind and relax by turning off all screens, stop texting, no more emails, and no internet.  While it will be hard use the time to unwind you may enjoy reading a good book, working on mobility, or practicing deep breathing.

 Sleep Tips

Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet.  This will keep you from waking or diminishing the quality of your sleep (deep sleep and REM sleep).  Close the curtains or use a special sleeping mask.  Close the windows, turn on a fan, use a white noise maker, or wear earplugs to manage sound.  You don’t want noise to keep you up.  If it is hot set you air conditioning or use a fan to keep cool.

 

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