7 Steps to Restful, Rejuvenating Sleep

When was the last time you jumped out of bed feeling refreshed and energized?

April 18, 2017
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Can you remember the last time you woke up in the morning, ready to take on the day? If you're drawing a blank, you're not alone. For many, a good night's rest is a rare event reserved for holidays and vacations. 

More likely, you hit the snooze button, then chug coffee all day to stay alert. Unfortunately, there's a nasty caffeine backlash when bedtime approaches and you end up struggling to doze off, only to start the cycle of sleep deprivation all over again.

More: 6 Things You Should Never Do Before Bed

Besides the obvious lack of energy you get from poor sleep, there are other serious health issues involved. Just one sleepless night can throw your stress and hunger hormones out of whack—that means you're more likely to gain weight, struggle with blood sugar balance, and suffer from anxiety and depression. Sleep loss also raises your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Bottom line: you need at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night to stay healthy! If your energy and focus are dragging during the course of your day, it's time for an intervention. Here are my seven favorite tips for falling and staying asleep:

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1 Watch your caffeine.

Limit your coffee to the morning hours. It's important to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening so jitters don't keep you staring at the ceiling at bedtime. (Unsweetened decaf green tea is a great swap.)

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2. Exercise early in the day.

Morning or early-afternoon interval and resistance training sessions set you up nicely for a good night's rest (here's how to become a morning exerciser). Avoid getting on the elliptical or lifting weights too late in the day, or you'll be revved up when it's time for lights out.

More: 10 Morning Moves That Will Better Your Body

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3. Limit your alcohol

You drink caffeine in the morning to wake up, and then rely on vino to wind down. Alcohol helps you fall asleep, but it also wakes you up in the middle of the night when your blood sugar shifts. Not good! If you must have wine around dinner, savor just one glass, then drink one or two glasses of water to prevent dehydration.

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4. No snacking after dinner

Close the kitchen three hours before bed. Nighttime snacking not only causes blood sugar changes that can wake you up, it also signals your body to store fat! If you get hungry late at night, drinking a glass of water has been proven to curb hunger

More: 10 Mistakes That Block Your Weight-Loss Success

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5. Use a natural sleep aid

Prescription sleeping pills can be addictive and leave you feeling sluggish in the morning. If you need an extra nudge to doze off, try a blend of melatonin, vitamin B6, and 5-HTP, all proven to promote your body's own healthy sleep cycle. 

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6. Power down an hour before bedtime

The light from screens as you check emails, lounge in front of the TV, and scroll through your texts disrupts your body's ability to release the natural signals needed to activate sleep. Turn off electronics an hour before bed for better z's. 

More: 15 Relaxing Things You Should Do Before Bed

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7. Create a sense of calm

Now that you've cleared out the stimulation and distractions, focus on activities that invite a quiet mind and peaceful environment. My favorites include a hot soak in the tub with a few drops of lavender essential oil, meditation, and a soothing cup of chamomile tea. Find your own restful evening routine.

There you have it: my seven steps to a blissful, uninterrupted sleep! Creating new habits takes time, so be patient and consistent. Soon you'll be rocking your sleep routine, and wake up feeling amazing.

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