How to Get More Out of Sleep

by Joe Rivera

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The term “fitness” is one that is thrown around a lot these days. It is usually used to describe the level of a person’s physical conditioning and is comprised of five different components: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition.

The one that people seem to concern themselves with the most is body composition-you know, your body fat percentage. While people lift weights for muscular strength and endurance, do Yoga and Pilates for flexibility, log hours a week on the treadmill for cardiorespiratory strength and endurance, and count calories for body composition-there is one thing that hardly ever gets named as part of a person’s fitness regiment. The irony is that one thing may very well be one of the most important components of health and fitness-that thing is sleep.

It is no wonder that so many people worldwide suffer from insomnia, since not enough attention is paid to the importance of sleep. If you have ever suffered from not being able to get a good night’s rest, you should have an idea of how very important it is. Here are a few tips that should help you get more out of sleep.

Difficulty: Moderate

Instructions

Things You’ll Need:

Common Sense

Diligence

A trip to your local health food store or pharmacy

Step 1

Do not eat for at least three hours prior to sleeping. It takes a couple of hours for the average person to digest their meals, and since digestive function works in conjunction with metabolism, it is critical that when you go to sleep you are doing so on an empty stomach. This will help your body relax into a deep sleep because all of its major functions are done for the day and now it can spend time resting and regenerating. Also keep the meal on the lighter side if possible.

Step 2

Stay away from alcohol for several hours before going to bed. Alcohol is primarily a simple sugar, and sugar gives your body an energy surge. The last thing you want is an energy surge in your body when you are trying to sleep.

Step 3

Do your best to refrain from caffeine intake, especially towards the end of the day. Rather than a cup of coffee, you will be better served with a cup of chamomile tea after dinner.

Step 4

Avoid fruits at night. This is one that boggles the minds of many of my clients. Eating fruits is healthy for you, isn’t it? It is, but just like alcohol, fruits are simple sugars and will not serve you in the sleeping department.

Step 5

Read more-watch television less. Studies have shown that those who read before going to bed tend to have a better night’s sleep than those staying up and watching their favorite television show. So, break out a good book, break away from the outside world and TiVo your favorite shows to watch earlier in the evening.

Step 6

Meditate to help you practice shutting down your mind. It is important to free your mind from its constant chatter-one of the things that keeps you up. The better you get at meditating, the better you will sleep.

Step 7

Take supplements. Since I am not a registered dietician or nutritionist, by law I am not allowed to tell you which supplements to take. However, there are qualified herbalists, nutritionists and dieticians available to you-just do the research to find one or consult with someone at your local health food store.