12 tips to improve your sleep

Written by Chef Alain Braux

Do you struggle to fall asleep or wake up earlier than needed? Do you feel tired for most of the day? Well you are not alone! One third of the American workforce is sleep deprived and I’m sure that statistics are not very different elsewhere in the world. The reassuring message by Chef Alain Braux is that there are many natural methods for you to achieve the same kind of sleep a baby has. Here are his 12 tips.

Tip 1: Absolutely no sleeping pills!

If you have insomnia, it can be tempting to seek a quick and easy solution by taking medications. But in the long term, sleeping pills are likely to worsen your sleep problems. Moreover, what are you looking for in better sleep? To feel better the next day, less tired, more intellectually alert? To have better morale?

Unfortunately, none of these effects can be achieved by chemical sleeping pills: they typically cause the exact opposite effect that is to say a greater risk inattention and drowsiness, in short, a general feeling of fatigue or like my son would say, “dragging ass.” These drugs knock you out but don’t really help you rest. It has even been established that sleep created by sleeping pills is very agitated with nightmares and interrupted by frequent awakenings.

Tip 2: Sleep in total darkness or as dark as possible.

When light hits our eyelids, it interrupts the production of serotonin and melatonin (the sleep hormone) disturbing the pineal gland circadian rhythm (which controls our biological clock). If you have to get up at night to go to the bathroom, try not to turn on the light. If it’s too dangerous to walk in the dark, put a night light in your bathroom and leave the door ajar.

Tip 3: No television or computer time just before bedtime.

Better yet, no TV in your bedroom. Television excites the brain too much. It also disturbs the pineal gland for the same reasons as above. And finally, television and the Internet can make you go to bed an hour or two later than you should.

Tip 4: Sleep in a cool environment.

The room shouldn’t be warmer than 65˚ F (18˚ C) or slightly above if your spouse/partner has cold feet. Many houses are too warm, especially upstairs in the bedrooms. However, below 60˚ F (15˚ C), you may be bothered by the cold, unless you wear a night cap.

Tip 5: Take one blanket off and wear socks to compensate and keep you warm.

Your feet being the least well-irrigated part of your body, are often the first to get cold. As soon as your body feels cold, it starts to move to warm itself up. This makes your sleep less restful, there is a risk of waking up and that your sleep quality decreases. One study showed that having warm feet increases your sleep quality.

Tip 6: Move your alarm clock and other electrical devices away from your bed.

Their sounds and flashing diodes can disturb your sleep. And looking at the numbers on your alarm clock (2 am, 3:15 am, 4 am…) can only add to your anxiety.

Tip 7: Save your bed for… sleeping.

If you’re used to watching television or working in bed, it can make it difficult for you to relax and fall asleep. So, avoid conducting these activities in your bed.

Tip 8: Consider having separate beds to sleep better.

Or even better, separate rooms in extreme cases. Recent studies indicate that for many people, sharing their bed with someone else can strongly disturb their sleep, especially if the other person has a restless sleep, gets up at night often or worst yet, snores.

Dr. Neil Stanley, sleep expert at the University of Surrey (England), strongly advises separate bedrooms. He reminds us that the habit of two sleeping in the same room emerged during the industrial revolution when people moved to cities where living space was expensive. In Roman times, the marital bed was not used for sleeping, but for something else more fun… I’m sure you get my drift.

Tip 9: Get regular physical exercise.

A study from Stanford Medical School found that, after a 16-week program of moderate exercise, the observed subjects slept on average 15 minutes earlier and slept 45 minutes longer. However, do not exercise just before bed as it would more likely keep you awake.

Tip 10: Do not eat sweets just before going to sleep.

Not only can make you hyper (like little kids), but it can also result in hypoglycemia that will wake you a few hours later. However, you can eat food that contains good protein (not in excess, of course) a few hours before going to bed. It will help your body produce melatonin (the sleep hormone). For a list of foods to avoid before sleep, click here.

Tip 11: Go to bed at the same time every night and before 10 pm if possible.

The hours between 10 pm and 2 am are the most restful hours.

Tip 12: Consider cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) if your sleep problems persist.

A study by the University of Bergen, Norway, concluded that CBT is more effective than sleeping pills. After a six weeks treatment, insomniac people who followed this therapy increased their effective sleep time from 81.4% to 90.1%. Moreover, they had longer and deeper sleep and woke less often than the other two control groups (one of which received a sleeping pill and the other a placebo).

Chef Alain Braux is a best-selling and multiple award-winning food and health author. He is also a food and health consultant, a speaker and panelist on food allergies, Paleo and anti-GMO issues. Mr. Braux is also award-winning Executive Chef and Nutrition Therapist. Alain Braux is the co-host on the podcast, “the Low Carb Paleo Show” and the food and health contributing editor to the Low Carb Magazine, Hip4Kids Magazine, Healthy Organic Women, Stuffed Pepper, and Food Solutions Magazine.

See his Media Page or find him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.

You can click on the link below to browse Chef Alain Braux’s books. http://www.alainbraux.com/category/mybooks