(Natural News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in three Americans are sleep-deprived. This shocking statistic is believed to be the reason many of us are overweight, practicing unhealthy lifestyle habits, and dying younger. And while the pharmaceutical industry pushes for more chemical drugs that can help us sleep better, a simpler solution might be all that is needed for a restful slumber: turning off our mobile phones.
Dr. Sunita Kumar of the Loyola University Medical Center says that simply turning off our phones 30 minutes before sleep could radically affect the quality of our rest. She explains that the blue light emitted from these devices interferes with our circadian rhythm and influences the production of melatonin — the hormone that regulates sleep. As a result, it is more difficult to fall asleep, and even when we do, our cycles are not well-managed.
Not getting enough sleep, or having a poor quality one, is linked to a variety of illnesses and neurocognitive conditions. Scientists have proven that a lack of sleep increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, mood changes, and accidents. Perhaps more worrisome is the observation that people tend to eat more junk food when they lack sleep.
As Dr. Kumar puts it: “Sleep deprivation affects the food choices we make. We tend to go for the sugary donut after a night of poor sleep.”
Ironically, many of us already know the importance of a good night’s sleep so we use tracking apps on our phone to evaluate our sleep. Yet these very same “helpful” apps are causing us to stay awake for longer. A better way, Dr. Kumar suggests, is to just train your body naturally — set up a sleep schedule where you go to bed and wake up at generally the same time everyday, even on weekends. Eventually your body will adjust and you will no longer need an app. (Related: Natural Sleep Aids: Enjoy a Good Night of Sleep.)
Your natural passport to the Land of Nod
There are easy and natural ways to sleep better. Here are some of them:
- Exercise — Insomnia has been linked to a sedentary lifestyle. People who engage in any form of aerobic exercise at least four times a week are noted to have better quality of sleep than those who do not move at all. Self-described couch potatoes are more likely to have depressive symptoms and suffer from daytime sleepiness. A word of caution though: Be sure to finish your exercise a few hours before you plan to sleep. Being too revved up will prevent you from falling asleep.
- Stop smoking — Smokers are four times more likely to have an uneasy sleep compared to non-smokers. Researchers say that this may be because of the stimulating effects of nicotine. Smoking can also lead to a variety of respiratory dysfunctions such as asthma which can affect your sleep cycles.
- Avoid alcohol — Some people use alcohol to help them sleep, but long-term use of the substance disrupts brain waves and will eventually lead to a sleep disorder.
- Regulate bedroom temperature — The National Sleep Foundation says that the best temperature for sleep is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the bedroom for sleep and sex only — Your mind is a powerful thing. You need to associate your bedroom with restful things so that your body will naturally calm down when it’s there. Avoid making your bedroom a place where you also work.
- Cut back on caffeine and spicy food — Even beverages like tea (which contain small amounts of caffeine) should be avoided a few hours before bedtime. Make dinner your lightest meal and try to finish it hours before you intend to go to bed. Try to avoid spicy and/or heavy foods as well as these can cause heartburn or indigestion.
These simple changes can have a dramatic effect on how well you sleep tonight. Remember that sleep is a beautiful thing and also a crucial aspect of your overall health. Do all you can so that you can have more restful night and active days. Read more natural ways to improve your sleep at Natural.news.