Doing This Just Minutes a Day Helps You Sleep Better
There's nothing more frustrating than tossing and turning through the night, only to wake feeling groggy and miserable. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults 18 to 64 years of age should get seven to nine hours of sleep each night to stay healthy. But if you're like one third of the adults in the U.S., you're probably getting nowhere close to the suggested shut-eye. Read on to discover how to improve your sleep simply, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Lack of sleep can lead to life-threatening health issues
The CDC warns that consistent sleep deprivation can lead to chronic illnesses, such as depression, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Sleepiness can also cause mistakes at work, car crashes, and unpleasant mood swings. "Middle-aged adults who report symptoms of insomnia and are sleeping less than six hours a night may be at increased risk of cognitive impairment, according to a study by Penn State College of Medicine researchers," reports MedicalXpress. "The results may help health care professionals understand which patients who report insomnia are at increased risk for developing dementia."
To get better sleep, you can follow a few common guidelines, such as limiting your screen time, drinking a cup of hot decaffeinated tea, or turning down the thermostat. But there's a better proven solution to your sleeping problem. If you take 15 minutes out of your day to meditate and complete deep breathing exercises, you may find it much easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Here's how it works.
Practice mindfulness meditation
Take 10 to 15 minutes to focus on staying calm and being in the moment at any point throughout your day. Taking this moment to relax and reflect allows your body to elicit the relaxation response. The more you can train your body to tap into this relaxation response, the easier it will be to fall asleep at night as soon as your head hits the pillow. According to Dr. Herbert Benson, MD, from the Benson-Henry Institute, "The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation. That way, it's easier to evoke the relaxation response at night when you can't sleep."
Perform the 4-7-8 breathing exercise.
When you settle into your bed for the night, take a minute to perform the 4-7-8 breathing technique. This will also allow your body to relax, get rid of nagging thoughts, and focus on sleep. To complete the exercise:
- Exhale completely through your mouth.
- With a closed mouth, inhale through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely for a count of eight.
Repeat the cycle three more times with your eyes closed. Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., creator of this breathing exercise calls it "a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system." When you can calm your nervous system, you can more easily drift off to sleep quickly after laying down.
By taking just a few minutes to practice mindful meditation and breathing exercises, you can take control of your brain, making it easier to train yourself to fall right to sleep. Use these techniques and get in a full eight hours of quality z's! And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.