Ah, sleep — your best friend and at times, your worst enemy. If you are anything like me, you look forward to the evening as you place aside your to-do list and climb between your crisp, refreshing sheets. However, everyone has those nights where your brain won’t turn off, or you just feel restless. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do before you go to bed to ensure that your night is restful, and you wake up feeling ready to tackle the day.
If you are anything like the majority of the population, you use an alarm clock (or more likely, your smartphone) to pull you from the bliss of dreamland and jolt you awake to begin your day. But, did you know that this could actually be ruining your sleep cycle and your health? Here are a few reasons why you should avoid an alarm in the morning and how to wake up naturally.
Reasons to ditch your alarm
One study showed that people who woke up with an alarm experienced a spike in heart rate and blood pressure as they were jolted from sleep. We all know the feeling, you are experiencing a pleasant dream or are completely apart from the world floating in the glorious abyss of uninterrupted sleep when suddenly the shrill tones of your alarm clock sound. This early morning shock immediately puts you in a bad mood and causes your body to go on high alert.
Many people have trouble falling asleep due to full “to do lists” and a packed schedule of events and meetings the next day. It is common to lay in bed and stare at the ceiling waiting for sleep to come only to be assaulted by the memory of a task you forgot or an unpleasant conversation. An alarm in the morning immediately sends your body into “fight or flight” mode and causes your system to flood with adrenaline. This spike of stress calls to mind all of those things that kept you up the night before and can often make you feel more tired than when you went to sleep.
While this adrenaline spike can be helpful to spur you to action in the morning and inspire you to get to work on time, the constant stress can build up and lead to issues with depression, overeating, high blood pressure, and increased insomnia.
How to ditch your alarm clock
Though the thought may terrify you, it is actually possible to get rid of your alarm clock for good and teach your body to wake up on its own. This process of self-awakening requires a great deal of discipline but is worth it in the long run.
Determine how much sleep you need
Everyone’s bodies are different, and though it has long been argued that every adult needs eight hours of sleep, it isn’t always so simple. Some people only need six to feel rested while others will struggle through the day unless they get a solid nine hour night. If you have a couple of days off work, try going to bed at a set time every night and allowing your body to wake up naturally. You may find you sleep longer the first night because you had some sleep to catch up on, but after a couple of nights, you should be able to determine the amount of time you naturally spend sleeping.
Adjust bedtime accordingly
Most of us have to get up for work at a certain time each morning, so your ability to regulate your sleep mainly stems from the time you go to sleep. Calculate what time you will have to go to bed in order to wake up naturally and stick to it, even if it seems incredibly early.
Stick to a schedule
Getting your body to adhere to a natural sleep cycle will take some dedication and patience. It is absolutely essential that you wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends) to train your brain and get up on time.
Tips for getting great sleep (and waking up naturally)
- Open the blinds. Natural light is the best way to wake up and allows your body to return to consciousness gradually.
- Set a backup alarm clock. Obviously, the process of getting rid of your alarm clock isn’t going to be a quick one. Always set a backup alarm clock so that you still have time to get to work if your natural approach fails you. This way, you won’t have interrupted sleep because of a fear of sleeping in.
- Don’t use your phone. When you do use an alarm clock, choose an actual clock and not your smartphone. It is too easy to become distracted by the constant stimulation and notifications.
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine. Whether it involves mediation, a relaxing bath, or unwinding with your favorite book, it is imperative that you follow the same routine each night about an hour before bed to prepare your body for sleep and de-stress from the day.
Grapefruit is one of the most underrated, yet deliciously tart citrus fruits out there. This pink fruit can brighten up any summer day with it’s refreshing, crisp flavor. Plus, it is loaded with tons of health benefits that you may not even know about. While you may only have ever eaten grapefruit with a sprinkling of sugar and a spoon, here are eight creative ways to incorporate this fruit into your diet, and why you should!
Sleep is an essential part of life. In fact, it is so important that the average human spends ⅓ of their life asleep. Your body needs this time to repair and replenish itself and prepare for the next day of physical and emotional strain. However, many people don’t give their sleep quality the attention it deserves and are running on empty because they’ve been unable to get a good nights rest.
If you are someone who has been caught up in the ASMR craze, things are about to get real.
You, like many other Americans, may be lacking in a very important mineral, magnesium. Not getting enough magnesium can cause a number of symptoms from fatigue to nausea and cramps. A lack of magnesium can also bring on seizures and even coronary spasms.
Magnesium is utilized by each and every organ in the body, particularly the kidneys, muscles, and heart – yet 80 percent of us don’t get enough of this nutrient. The majority of the mineral is stored in organs and bones where it can be utilized for all types of biological functions, and as so many people are deficient in it without being aware of the issue, it’s sometimes referred to as the “invisible deficiency.”
Magnesium is a macro-mineral
Magnesium is a macro-mineral. That means that unlike trace minerals, the body needs it in significant amounts in order for it to function the way it would. Still, only 20 to 25 percent of Americans get the recommended daily amount, which is 310 to 320 mg for women and 400 to 420 mg for men.
You might be thinking, “I eat healthily, I rarely if ever eat junk or processed foods, so why would I be lacking magnesium?” Even if you are following a nutritious diet you may very well be deficient due to farming practices which ultimately produce less nutrient-rich foods. Other factors can contribute to a deficiency as well, such as drinking an excessive amount of caffeinated beverages and/or being under a lot of stress.
But how bad is it really do not get enough magnesium?
You might be surprised that a lack of the nutrient could actually be causing symptoms you didn’t even consider could be related to a deficiency such as:
Having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep? Magnesium works to reduce nerve conduction in the muscles, and it can also slow down neuronal activities in the brain. By decreasing the electrical conduction between brain cells, magnesium is then able to reduce the “noise” signals that cause anxiety and sleeplessness, inducing calm and promoting sedation. As even marginal magnesium deficiency can cause muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, and hyperexcitability, it’s fairly common for low magnesium levels to trigger insomnia.
Leg cramps and restless leg syndrome
More than 70 percent of adults suffer from leg cramps regularly. Although they typically go away after several minutes, the pain can be debilitating. While this can sometimes be the result of an underlying condition, a lack of magnesium can also be the cause.
Another way that a magnesium deficiency can interrupt sleep is via restless leg syndrome. Low magnesium levels lead to poor control of electrical conduction in the neurons that are in the muscles, which then leads to a prolonged opening of the calcium channels and increased muscular activity. The result is muscle spasms which present as restless leg syndrome. Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is the term used to describe the involuntary movement of limbs caused by magnesium deficiency.
Anxiety can be brought on by many things. Sometimes it’s an organic issue and may not be caused by anything at all, though it could result from financial difficulties, a challenging new job, the current state of the world or just about anything in between – but, it can also be caused by a lack of magnesium. Stress can cause a magnesium deficiency, and a lack of this important mineral tends to magnify the stress reaction, making the problem even worse.
High blood pressure
In addition to playing an essential role in the nervous system to help the brain relax, magnesium also aids in dilating and relaxing the blood vessels. When you have a deficiency, it can result in hypertension, or high blood pressure, by increasing blood vessel constriction.
If you have ever had a migraine you know just how horrible they can be. Research has shown that migraine sufferers frequently have a lack of magnesium in the body. Studies have demonstrated that people who suffer from these debilitating headaches who take a magnesium supplement have fewer migraines and reduced symptoms.
More benefits of magnesium
- Improved bone health
- Less pain
- Increased energy
- Better heart health
- A lower risk of diabetes
- Stronger muscles
Magnesium Rich Foods
Including these magnesium-rich foods in your diet will help you get more of this very important nutrient that you need.
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy greens
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While you may think herbal tea is similar to standard green or black tea, it actually has quite a few differences, including the fact that most don’t contain caffeine. It’s made by steeping the roots, stems, flowers, petals, leaves, seeds, roots and stems of all types of plants and flowers, and is available in hundreds of different varieties. Some herbal teas are quite common, such as chamomile, while others are more obscure. Depending on the area in which you live in the world, different types are easier to find than others.
The health benefits of herbal tea can vary greatly, depending on the composition. A single ingredient or a combination of various herbs and flowers may be used. Drinking herbal tea is often recommended for those who want to naturally improve their health, or simply relax while sipping a tasty, refreshing brew.
Most herbal teas contain a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, but the specifics will depend on this exact herbs and plants that used in the tea. Some of the more common health benefits include a feeling of calm and relaxation, helping one to fall asleep easier, lowering inflammation, protecting against disease, relieving pain, boosting the immune system, supporting the digestive system, serving as a detox for the body and even enhancing cognitive function.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of herbal tea and the top teas that you should drink for your health.
Many herbal teas are loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as quercetin, which I long been known to help protect against a wide range of illness and disease including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. In addition to this potent compound, it also contains a high concentration of two lesser known antioxidants, aspalathin and nothofagin. These polyphenol antioxidants work to battle free radicals which can help slow the aging process, reverse visible signs of aging and protect against disease. Those substances also provide nerve relaxing properties that may even help to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cleansing and Detox
Spices have been made into teas and used medicinally for thousands of years. Many offer anti-inflammatory, antiulcer and antioxidant activities and can even be used as an analgesic. Ginger is considered one of the best detoxifying herbs, frequently recommended in cleansing programs and detox diets. The healing portion of the plant is referred to as the rhizome which is the thick underground stem. The stem can be steeped in water used as a tea as part of a cleansing program as it’s believed to cleanse the body by stimulating the digestion process, circulation, and sweating. Its digestive actions may serve to cleanse the build-up of waste and toxins in the colon, liver and other organs too.
Detoxification enhances the body’s natural cleansing process, allowing it to build better defenses against illness and disease in addition to boosting blood circulation and preventing clotting.
Supporting Better Digestion
The health of your digestive system is essential for your overall health. There are multiple teas that can support better digestion and soothe the intestinal system, including treating ailments like gas and nausea.
Ginger, for example, offers healing and detoxifying properties that are likely due to its high concentration of gingerol and shoga which provide anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects on the gastrointestinal system. These properties help to sustain digestive enzymes which neutralize acids, supporting the entire digestive process. As a result, stomach discomforts such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation can be relieved.
Certain teas are also considered to be a safe and effective insomnia remedy. Herbal teas lack caffeine but may contain a high mineral content, including magnesium, calcium, manganese, zinc, and iron, which are all known to encourage calm and relaxation in addition to reducing sleep disturbances. Some herbal teas are believed to indirectly help one to sleep better by inducing a feeling of calm, promote relaxation and improve the quality of sleep.
More Beautiful Skin
Some teas like red bush tea even contain hydroxy acid which is commonly found in those expensive skin products for promoting healthier skin. It’s been shown to minimize acne when applied directly to the skin twice a day, but drinking this herbal tea may also help from the inside out, sipping to improve eczema, psoriasis, and even the pain and itch of sunburns. Just apply a freshly brewed and cooled tea bag to affected areas to soothe and heal inflammation and drink a cup too.
Supports a Healthier Heart
Many herbal teas contain powerful flavonoids that can aid in regulating blood pressure and enhance the stability of capillary arteries. This results in a reduction of cholesterol buildup and blood clots, lessening the chances of heart attack and heart-related disease. It also contains a potent antioxidant known as chrysoeriol, which can improve circulation by preventing the activity of an enzyme known to trigger cardiovascular disease.
Certain herbal teas can support brain health too. For example, turmeric tea. A study conducted in 2014 suggested that a compound known as aromatic-turmerone can increase neural stem cell growth in the brain by as much as 80 percent when taken in specific concentrations. The experts concluded that this compound could help those who suffer from diseases like Alzheimer’s, as well as stroke victims to recover brain function.
The top herbal teas to drink for your health include:
Chamomile. Chamomile is rich in antioxidants such as apigenin, caffeic acid, chamazulene, chlorogenic acid, chrysoeriol, gentisic acid, hyperoside, isoferulic acid, isorhamnetin, kaempferol, luteolin, malic acid, p-coumaric acid, quercetin, rutin, salicylic acid and sinapic acid. That’s a whole lot of antioxidants, and they have a key role when it comes to lowering inflammation that can lead to illness, disease and cell damage. Chamomile is best-known for its calming properties and great to drink for better sleep.
Roobios. Roobios or Redbush tea also contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants, including quercetin, which is known to help protect against all sorts of illness and disease including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It also contains a high concentration of two lesser known antioxidants, aspalathin and nothofagin which are polyphenol antioxidants that help fight free radicals which can help slow the aging process, reverse visible signs of aging and protect against disease. It’s also known to relieve insomnia and improve digestion.
Lemon balm. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, and its leaves have an especially pleasant but mild lemony aroma. It’s filled antioxidants and contains a powerful compound called eugenol, a natural anti-inflammatory that’s known to soothe aches and pains.
Ginger. Ginger is famous for its ability to relieve digestive woes like nausea and stomach upset. Israelis researchers have found that it offers dramatic effects for heart health, including reducing cholesterol levels, preventing the oxidation of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and lowering the risk of atherosclerosis.
Turmeric. Heart Disease is the world’s No. 1 killer and something that’s been extensively studied for years. There are also many different things, including turmeric, which can help reverse its progress before it’s too late. Curcumin, a powerful compound found in turmeric, helps to improve the functioning of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels.
Other super healthy herbal teas include:
- Rose Hip
We all have trouble sleeping from time to time. The National Sleep Foundation reports that forty-five percent of Americans report that poor or lack of sleep interferes with their daily activities. Many illnesses are precipitated by a lack of sleep as well. Sleep is necessary not only for physical health but also for mental health.
I myself have had difficulties sleeping from time to time. Even though I might fall asleep at a good time, I would wake up and toss and turn for several hours before finally falling back to sleep. When this little no-sleep issue going on I was groggy during the day and unable to catch up on my sleep due to my busy work schedule.
What worked for me
What I did find was that there were several home-remedy type things that helped me get back on a regular sleep schedule. These are easy things that I have picked up through the years and stored in my memory bank. If you have a difficult time sleeping, try some of these remedies and perhaps you will be snoozing before long.
Get a good mattress
I put getting a new mattress off for many years mostly because I didn’t want to spend the money. What I didn’t realize was that a high-quality mattress is essential to a restful night’s sleep. Because your body changes as you age, it is imperative to get a new mattress about every seven years or so. As your mattress ages, it is not able to provide the support that you need to sleep well. Pillows also need to be replaced at least once a year in order to provide proper support for your neck and spine. Take your time to shop around for a good mattress, be picky and don’t skimp. About two weeks after I purchased my new mattress I was able to sleep the entire night through without any issues at all.
Create an oasis in your bedroom
Making your room a calm and relaxing space will help you fall asleep quicker. You want your room to be cool and dark, quiet and cozy. For me, this meant, taking my desk out of my room, replacing it with a table full of plants and candles. I put new blinds on my windows that would keep my room dark. I changed the color of my wall to a calming sage green and purchased an essential oil diffuser as well. Do what you need to in order to create a relaxing space that bids you come and fall asleep, It is also a good idea to keep your space cooler than the rest of the house. I like to leave a window open and keep my ceiling fan running even in the winter.
Process thoughts before you go to bed
One of the issues I had with getting to sleep on time at night was the fact that I taking the time to run over all kinds of thoughts in my mind. It seemed that one thought would just lead into another and so 0n and so on…. To alleviate all those random thoughts in your brain try writing them down. When I got back to journaling it was amazing how much lighter my brain felt. You could also try recording your thoughts, that works as well. According to Michael A. Grandner, Ph.D., an instructor of psychiatry at the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program at the University 0f Pennsylvania,
“A better approach would be [to] take some time in the evening to work through the day, make lists to do tomorrow and clear your mental desktop of the stuff that you still have to think about.”
More Tips for Sleeping Better
- Try yoga
- Take a bath with lavender oil and Epsom salts
- Keep your work out of your bed – no computers or phones
- Don’t eat a heavy meal within 3 hours of bedtime
- Exercise regularly but not too close to bedtime
- Keep to a regular sleep and waking time
- Wear socks to bed
Try this delicious bedtime elixir
I discovered this delicious and healthy bedtime elixir that helps me wind down before hitting the hay… give it a try. It features two of my favorite foods, apple cider vinegar, and raw honey. Honey has long been thought of as a natural remedy for insomnia. Dr. Li Shizen named honey’s ability to help with sleep as one of its five potent health properties. Honey causes a rise in insulin, which releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps improve mood. In the body, serotonin is converted into melatonin, a chemical compound that regulates the length and quality of sleep. Because honey causes insulin to rise slower than sugar it is great insomnia buster. Apple cider vinegar helps to regulate digestion and break down fatty acids, and release tryptophan, that converts into serotonin.
To make: Combine 2 teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of raw honey in 8 ounces of warm water and enjoy!
– Susan Patterson