How have you been sleeping lately? Sleep deprivation is a common issue for those struggling with health conditions, like autoimmune disease, for example. Whether it’s difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or just interrupted sleep, not getting enough quality rest can do a lot more than just make you cranky. Being tired from not sleeping well can make it hard to concentrate, affect your memory, and leave you with no energy. And when you’re exhausted, it can be hard to handle symptoms that come with your condition.
So what to do? While you may consider using sleep aids (something you should discuss with your doctor), they can often leave you feeling groggy and not refreshed.
Here are four essential things you should be doing to help your body get a restful night’s sleep, naturally:
1. Get outside everyday. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by your pineal gland at night which helps to promote a deep sleep. In order to have good quality melatonin, you need to get sunlight on your face during the day. So, get outside! Rain or shine, summer or winter, make an effort to go for a 20 minute walk every day.
2. Sleep in darkness. That hormone melatonin I just mentioned? It really likes darkness. When you go to the bathroom at 3 am and turn on the light, you have now decreased your melatonin production. Make sure you sleep in a pitch black room to pump up your melatonin levels. Get rid of those pretty curtains and invest in some black-out shades that block out those street lights. Keep a dim night light in the hallway or bathroom if you get up in the middle of the night. And turn off all electronics, including your cell phone.
3. Increase your magnesium intake. This essential mineral calms the nervous system and promotes a restful sleep. One sign of a magnesium deficiency is anxiety and poor quality sleep. Try adding magnesium-rich foods to your diet, such as dark green veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts/seeds, bananas, watermelon, figs, potatoes, and green beans. Another option is to drink water with added powdered magnesium before bed.
4. Make a 2 o’clock cut off for caffeine. Research shows that it’s that late-afternoon coffee that causes the most sleep problems. So drink your caffeinated beverages before 2 pm or opt for green tea instead. While green tea is mildly caffeinated, it also contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that promotes a balanced mood and restful sleep.
Making these small lifestyle changes can have a big effect on how well you sleep. It may take some time to notice an improvement, but if you’re consistent, you’ll get that quality slumber that will boost your mood, energy and, hopefully, help you feel better on even your toughest of days.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.