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6 Surprising Tricks for Better Sleep
Sleep: we all do it, but a lot of us don’t do it nearly enough. About 70 million of us suffer from a sleep disorder, with a staggering 1 in 4 of Americans experiencing insomnia each year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 35% of adult Americans regularly sleep for less than seven hours per night; the problem is worse among African Americans and other groups.
The results are disastrous. Sleeping poorly not only affects your mood and ability to concentrate the next day, but it also has long-term consequences. Sleep deprivation is linked to obesity, depression, lower sex drive, and an increase in the amount of the stress hormone cortisol. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, stroke and even suicide.
If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may be familiar with some of the most common ways to improve your “sleep hygiene:” not consuming caffeine past the morning, creating a wind-down routine, avoiding electronics with blue light at least an hour before bed.
But there are some other, slightly surprising ways you can ease your body into a dream state. Try these less-common tricks and see if they work for you.
Invest in a Fan
Or, you know, crank the AC. According to doctors, the ideal temperature in your bedroom for optimal sleep is between 60° and 67° Fahrenheit. If you tend to get chilly, layer on the blankets, because a too-hot temperature can disrupt REM sleep, the dream stage during which we get our best rest.
You’re more likely to wake up when your bedroom falls out of this range and gets too cold or too hot. When we sleep, our core body temperature drops, which is why we often reach for the covers. But a too-hot room raises your body temperature to interfere with REM.
Wear Socks to Bed
Speaking of body heat, cold feet may be disrupting your core temperature, too. When your body has to send more blood flow down to your feet to heat them up, it raises your entire body’s temperature. Putting on a pair of fuzzy socks relaxes and widens your blood vessels that get constrictured when you’re cold. With better circulation, your body can focus on releasing heat and cooling down the rest of your body.
Choose loose, comfortable socks that don’t constrict your feet. The kind made out of natural fibers are best for warmth and breathability.
Avoid Spicy Foods
Skip the sriracha within three hours of bedtime. In fact, avoid any food that, like spicy food, can cause heartburn. Acid reflux worsens when you lie down, and the increase in acid could also aggravate sleep apnea symptoms.
Red pepper can also increase your core body temperature, which as we now know, impedes our ability to fall asleep.
Some new research suggests that feeling grateful can have a positive effect on sleep quality. The study randomly selected women and separated them into three groups: some were to write about what they were grateful for each day, some wrote about everything that happened each day, and the third group did not write at all. After two weeks, the group who practiced gratitude showed significant improvement in sleep quality. So if you’ve never given it a shot, try journaling about what you’re thankful for, especially before bed. Focusing on the positive helps us avoid anxiety when it's time to hit the hay.
Turns out, lifting weights can help you sleep longer – even more so than aerobic exercise. A new study in Preventive Medicine Reports says that adding some strength training into your routine during the day can actually help improve your quality of sleep. The study looked at over 23,000 adults in Germany; it took just one session of resistance training a week to see improvements in sleep quality.
Move While You Sit
Sleep hygiene isn’t the only thing worth investing in: we also spend ⅓ of our day sitting! And if you spend those hours slumped over your desk, you’re doing a disservice to your body and your ability to fall asleep. Not only does poor posture cause pain which can keep you awake, but also the negative effects of sitting still can actually be the root cause of your trouble sleeping! The National Library of Medicine published a study linking sedentary behavior with an increased risk of insomnia.
So if you want healthier sleep, make sure you’re sitting healthy, too. The healthiest way to sit? A chair that actually promotes movement and frees your pelvis to move for improved circulation. Our all33 chairs were specially designed to combat the negative effects, including poor sleep, linked to a sedentary lifestyle.