How to sleep better every night

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Stress is often high at the start of the school year as daily routines are new, hectic and stressful, resulting in the inability to get a good night’s sleep.

When you cut down on total sleep time, studies show it can lead to overeating, weight gain, and even worse, increased mortality. Our health expert, Karen Owoc, is here with some practical tips on how to sleep better.

1. Catch up on lost sleep

· Lack of sleep can build up over time. The amount of sleep you need and the amount of sleep you get leads to sleep debt. Add extra hours of sleep each night until you feel like you’ve caught up.

2. Train during the day

· Adopt a regular exercise routine. Take a walk outside before dinner. Stick to the higher intensity workouts for the day to avoid re-energizing yourself right before you are supposed to relax.

3. Stretch at night

· Tense muscles are shortened, making them tense. Lengthening muscle fibers will help you relax. Focus on the muscles in your neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, and even your face. Use all of your senses, so stretch out in a calm and calming environment, visualize something calming, and try aromatherapy.

4. Stay on a schedule

· Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. It helps if your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet.

· Consider earplugs to block out noise, especially if your partner is a snorer!

· Wear a sleep mask. When the brain perceives pure darkness, it produces and releases melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain (the

pineal gland) and regulates sleep and wakefulness (the sleep-wake cycle). The production and release of melatonin increases when it is dark and decreases when it is bright. However, melatonin production declines with age.

Melatonin supplements are available over the counter. If you are taking any medication, talk to your doctor before taking a melatonin supplement. Try the sleep mask first to naturally increase melatonin.

5. Sleep naturally

· Try chamomile tea without caffeine or aromatherapy. Lavender produces mild relaxing and calming effects when inhaled.

6. Clear your brain

· Try to block out the daily “worry time” before bed. If you need to check your emails, pay bills, or plan your schedule for the next day, do it right after dinner, not right before bed.

7. Take short naps

· Occasional short naps are okay, but avoid napping too late in the day. Also, keep them short.

8. Avoid hidden sleep thieves

· Caffeine has a half-life of five to six hours. Coffee can interfere with sleep, but caffeine is also lurking in soft drinks, tea, and chocolate. Beware of certain medications, such as decongestants, which can make some people nervous and have trouble sleeping.

9. Beware of pain

You may consider taking a nighttime pain reliever to help you fall asleep, but see your doctor if the pain often prevents you from sleeping at night. In addition, some common over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers contain caffeine.

10. Eat light at night

• Your body is working hard while you sleep. The brain eliminates metabolic debris, the cells repair themselves. Eating a full meal just before bedtime means your body is digesting and renewing itself.

Takeaway meals: Establishing new sleep habits takes practice and discipline, but the health benefits are significant. Try a new sleep tip each week.

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