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While living in today’s fast-paced world, it’s not uncommon to skip sleep here and there. However, many of us are so sleep-deprived that we’re paying for it with our mental and physical well-being. That said, a top cause of sleep disturbances ends up in bed with most of us every single night: our smartphones. If you’ve ever laid awake scrolling through your iPhone, you’re in luck! Apple devices also offer several built-in sleep tools that can help you achieve and maintain your best shut-eye yet. For example, if you’re in the market for a white noise machine but you own an iPhone, you’ve already got a built-in white noise machine right in your pocket! Worried about blue light exposure from electronics keeping you up at night? Red light iPhone filters offer a built-in screen temperature adjustment that turns on and off every night and morning. All you have to do is set it up and select your desired schedule. Scroll your way to enhanced sleep tonight!
Americans are far behind other countries when it comes to our average sleep duration. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, prioritizing sleep is a challenge. Luckily, many other countries around the globe have passed down unique sleep habits for generations…and they’ve been passed down because they work! A night-time foot soak is popular in China, while Scandinavians swear by bedding essentials like sleeping with two different duvets rather than one if you have a sleeping partner. Swedish bedtime snacks are proven to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, while Salvadorans have made hammock naps a daily practice within their culture for years. Chamomile tea has been passed down from ancient times for the improvement of health and sleep – and so have certain breathing patterns! Implement these global lifestyle hacks for your most restorative sleep yet.
Air travel has revolutionized the way we work and vacation, but it’s come at a price: jet lag. This temporary sleep disruption affects travelers who quickly find themselves in a much different time zone than the one their internal clock is “set” to back home. Luckily, a couple of handy hacks can help you overcome jet lag if you find yourself in this sleep-deprived situation. For starters, if you plan to travel east rather than west, plan for more significant adjustments ahead of time: traveling east is harder on your circadian rhythm than traveling west. Be sure to use a jet lag calculator that determines your time of departure and arrival. Then, start shifting your sleep schedule to account for the time change at least two days ahead of travel. Finally, plan to take a melatonin supplement either on the flight or after you land. Try out handy accessories if you must take an in-flight nap, like an eye mask, noise-canceling headphones, or mouth tape for snore-free, restorative sleep.
A rough night almost always means a rough day. That said, researchers have proven that poor sleep is more than just an annoying inconvenience; it has real consequences when it comes to your relationships with others. People who experience poor sleep are less likely to give charitably to others or offer up kind gestures like holding the door open for someone. Moreover, sleep deprivation is proven to increase feelings of anger and irritability. It also hiders impulse control, so flying off the handle after you were up all night becomes highly likely. When we’re tired, we tend to avoid others – and they pick up on it. Poor sleep lends itself to isolation and loneliness, killing your social life altogether. If you want to improve your life, improve your sleep. Start by using a sleep debt calculator to determine your level of sleep debt. Your total number of lost hours each week may surprise you. Once you’ve determined how short on sleep you truly are, establish habits that support a healthy, consistent sleep routine. Get selfish about sleep! Your quality of life depends on it.
If you can’t seem to get to sleep when you want to or find yourself waking up several times throughout the night, you’re one of many adults who suffers from insomnia. No single thing can explain sudden insomnia, butseveral unexpected causes may becontributing to your lack of shut-eye. For example, eating too many fatty foods close to bedtime may shift your digestive system into overdrive, making sleep difficult to achieve. Alcohol induced insomnia can keep you awake due to the rebound effect alcohol has on sleep quality, while alcohol withdrawal insomnia is common in heavy drinkers. Changing up your medications – even down to the dosage amount – is known to cause insomnia. Early pregnancy is notorious for disrupting sleep, too, so tell your health specialist if you have a tough time falling asleep after finding out you’re expecting. Beyond that, unknown sleep disorders like sleep apnea could be to blame for your late nights, as symptoms can be subtle and difficult to detect.
Lack of sleep is proven to cause numerous health problems – but did you know that poor gut health is one of them? If you’ve experienced digestive issues like gas, bloating, or constipation, your sleep habits may be the culprit. Researchers believe that there’s a direct connection between gut health and our sleep patterns. However, they’re unsure if gut health influences sleep quality or vice versa. That said, we do know that a happy gut is a balanced gut. Balancing good and bad gut bacteria is key to relieving the symptoms of poor gut health. Prebiotics and probiotics help achieve this, but some of the best prebiotic (and probiotic) supplements come in the form of food. Fermented foods like pickles and sauerkraut fill the gut with healthy bacteria while fiber-rich foods like apples and bananas “feed” pre-existing gut bacteria and encourage microbiome diversity. Once you’ve got your gut health handled, turn your attention to sleep hygiene by establishing and maintaining healthy sleep-wake patterns and addressing sleep disruptions, like snoring.
There’s nothing worse than being pulled straight from blissful sleep by a blaring, loud alarm clock. Whether you use a traditional clock or your phone’s alarm clock, the noises aren’t exactly soothing. In fact, they trigger involuntary increases in adrenaline, heart rate, and blood pressure. Over time, this causes harm to your health. If you awake confused and panicked at the sound of your alarm going off, a sunrise alarm clock may be the answer. These alarm clocks mimic the natural sunrise to ease you into wakefulness. Many of them couple calming, soothing nature sounds to help you feel refreshed first thing in the morning rather than anxious and frightened. This light exposure even helps to establish and maintain a healthy circadian rhythm thanks to light’s influence on our eyes first thing in the morning. Selecting the best sunrise alarm clock can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve rounded up our top three picks for your most peaceful mornings yet.
No one likes the feeling of overheating at night. Heat is also known to disrupt your REM and slow-wave sleep cycles, leading to grogginess the next day. Thankfully, you can take steps to prevent overheating during sleep to achieve cool, summer rest. For starters, did you know that certain things you choose to consume increase your internal temperature? Spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol are all known to worsen the feeling of being too hot. Avoid these before bed to beat the heat! Freeze your socks, a water bottle, or a washcloth and apply the icy cold to certain pressure points to bring down your body heat. If freezing things doesn’t sound ideal, try to Egyptian Sleeping Method, which consists of dampening your sheets before bed. Opt for natural, breathable bedding rather than synthetic materials, which trap heat. Resist cuddling with your pet during hot months, as their body heat will increase yours. Finally, try a warm shower or beverage to raise and then rapidly lower your body temperature a few hours before bedtime.
Chances are, you’ve heard the trendy buzzword “biohacking” in recent months or years. But what does the term “biohacking” actually mean? Biohacking refers to experimenting with techniques known to help you “hack” your way to improved health. A huge pillar of good health? Proper sleep quality. Most of us don’t get enough sleep – and certain biohacking supplements and techniques can help you ramp up the quantity and quality of your rest. Nootropics and melatonin provide external supplements that can take your sleep health from zero to hero. Cold therapy helps to control your morning stress responses by keeping inflammation low, making sleep more easily achievable later in the day. Red light exposure in the evening ensures that your circadian clock remains uninterrupted, so you’ll drift off easier than usual. Finally, mouth tape prevents open-mouth snoring that may wake you up throughout the night.
Do you sleep on your back, stomach, or side? Sleeping on your stomach benefits your airway health by preventing snoring more than sleeping on your back. But it also places the spine in an unnatural position that leads to neck and back pain. Moreover, stomach sleeping may worsen wrinkles and skin irritation, as one side of your face is typically smashed into your pillow in this position. If you’re pregnant, stomach sleeping only intensifies your already aching joints. Sleeping on your side offers superior benefits for spine alignment, reducing pain across the body while offering the most support for an open airway while you rest. (Pregnant or not!) That means a lowered risk of snoring, which boosts your overall sleep quality. That said, if you breathe in and out of your mouth, snoring is still possible. Mouth tape provides an adequate lip seal that prevents open-mouth snoring. Therefore, side sleeping and mouth tape are a perfect match for achieving your best sleep yet.
It’s no secret that waking up with lower back pain in the morning is, well, a pain. So is having trouble falling or staying asleep due to discomfort caused by an aching back. Recent research has found that there’s a correlation between lower back pain and insomnia. Lower back pain leads to poor sleep and, conversely, poor sleep worsens back pain. When pain is the only thing you can focus on when you lie down for the night, falling asleep is near impossible. Furthermore, back pain is notorious for causing you to toss and turn all night, waking you up from deep sleep. As sleep quality worsens, so does your pain. Trying out the best sleeping positions for lower back pain (while avoiding the worst ones) is key to keeping pain in check. Avoid sleeping positions that throw the spine out of alignment and cause unnecessary strain on the neck and back. The worst culprit? Sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees is one of the best sleeping positions for lower back pain, but some find it difficult to sleep on their back all night long. Sleeping on your side in the fetal position with one pillow under your head and another between your legs provides proper spinal alignment if you find it challenging to sleep on your back.
It seems like there are always new fun facts about sleep that we could all gain perspective from learning. Researchers are constantly uncovering new information about the importance of sleep. However, regardless of how much we know about sleep, most of us still don’t get enough. As many as one-third of adults are seriously sleep-deprived. That’s why we’re debunking common sleep myths once and for all, starting with the idea that the brain isn’t active during sleep. This couldn’t be further from the truth! While we’re unconscious, the brain is busy cleaning house in more ways than one to keep us feeling restored and healthy. Another common sleep myth: the idea that alcohol is a sleep aid just because it helps us fall asleep faster. In reality, it disrupts our sleep cycles and leads to fragmented sleep, only worsening sleep quality. Speaking of sleep quality, it matters more than sleep quantity! Six hours of quality sleep is better than eight hours of disrupted sleep. Disrupted sleep causes sleep debt to build – and it’s hard to pay off! Sleeping in only worsens it. And if you’re snoring during sleep, it’s nothing to ignore! Snoring disrupts our sleep and leads to poor oxygenation, health problems, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea.