10 Steps to better sleep

Sleep is a beautiful thing. If you feel you’re not getting enough sleep, or not enjoying quality sleep, these simple adjustments can help contribute to a more restful night.

1. Don’t let weekends ruin the routine: it might seem tempting, but sleeping until noon on Saturday will only disrupt your biological clock and cause more sleep problems. Stick to your sleep routine throughout the week.

2. Workout: researchers in Northwestern University’s Department of Neurobiology and Physiology reported that previously sedentary adults who got aerobic exercise four times a week improved their sleep quality from poor to good.

3. Change your diet: eat magnesium rich foods throughout the day. Cut out the food and drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate, by mid-afternoon.

4. Time your last meal: make dinner your lightest meal and finish it a few hours before bedtime.

5. Don’t smoke: a study found that smokers are four times more likely to not feel as well rested after a full night’s sleep than non-smokers. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine attribute this to the stimulative effect of nicotine and the nighttime withdrawal from it.

6. Cut down on screen time: a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) survey found that nearly all participants used some type of electronics, like a television, computer, video game or cell phone within the last hour before going to bed. Light from these devices stimulates the brain, making it harder to wind down.

7. Pets and kids: a study performed by Mayo Clinic’s Dr John Shepard found that 53 percent of pet owners who sleep with their pets, experience sleep disruption every night. And more than 80 percent of adults who sleep with children have trouble getting a good night’s sleep.

8. Keep it temperate, not tropical: the NSF recommends a temperature somewhere around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Striking a balance between the thermostat, the bed covers and your sleeping attire will reduce your core body temperature and help you drift off to sleep faster and more deeply.

9. Black it out: light tells your brain that it’s time to wake up, so make your room as dark as possible for sleep. Even a small amount of ambient light from your cell phone or computer can disrupt the production of melatonin (a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles) and overall sleep.

10. Scent it up: use essential oils sprays and candles to support relaxation. Rosemary, jasmine, lavender and vanilla help calm the nerves. We hope that adopting the above ways will help you wake up fresh and rejuvenated each day.

Sadia Salman is a certified nutritionist from Tufts University, USA and the CEO of Diet by Design(Int’l). She has over seven years of experience in treating patients with various health issues through food both in Pakistan and in Canada. Most of her work is on managing diseases like hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes etc through weight management. She believes in building a healthy community by educating the masses in any capacity that she can.

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