11 Ways to Stay Energized All Day

Stuck Moment: It’s 3 pm and you’re down for the count. You’re tired, hungry, and cranky — longing for a venti-size, two-sugar latte. Sigh. Once again, the rest of this workday is going to be an unproductive drag.

But it doesn’t have to be. All that’s required are some small diet and exercise fine-tuning to sharpen that remarkable instrument you call your body. Because what you feed it and how you care for it affects the physical and mental factors that contribute to productivity: Mood. Confidence. Concentration. Energy. Memory. Your immune system.

Even better, these tweaks to your daily habits are so easy to implement that they can quickly become second nature — building a positive and lasting impact on what you can get done. Let’s get started.

Go easy on your digestive system. Digestion is work for your body. After you eat, increased blood flows to your stomach and intestines for the energy-hungry task of breaking food down — energy which then isn’t available for other kinds of work. Like brain work. On average, if you eat a mixed diet of carbs, proteins, and fats, 5% to 15% of the calories (a.k.a. energy) you take in are used for digestion. To compare, the brain uses about 20%.

While some foods, like fats and alcohol, take extra work to digest, others, such as a pastry or white toast with jam, break down easily to glucose (the sugar that fuels brain and muscles). You get a quick burst of energy (yay!). But as soon as 15 minutes later, you’ll crash (oh no!) and need another sugar-fix. Why? Because your brain needs glucose delivered in a steady supply to keep it running at its best.

The upshot: Eat the right foods, in the right amounts so that the energy produced isn’t “eaten” right back up by your stomach. And eat to control the release of glucose into your system to avoid the blood sugar roller coaster.

Here are five easy ways to do that:

  1. Your morning meal helps set your blood sugar pattern for the day. What you want: fiber, slow-burning carbs, some fat, and some protein. Try a shake (soy, almond, or low-fat milk) with fresh or frozen fruit. Or an omelet with veggies and multi-grain toast.
  2. Choose foods low on the glycemic index, which means that they burn slowly, giving your brain that nice even flow of energy. Choose toast with whole grains over a white bagel. A handful of nuts and dried fruit over a cookie. Here is a helpful chart listing high, medium, and low-glycemic foods.
  3. Avoid heavy meals. That three-martini bistro lunch you see on Mad Men? Terrible for productivity. Instead, order salads, veggies, a high protein-to-carb ratio such as a baked potato with tuna or a light turkey sandwich. Go big on volume (to help you stay full) but judicious on calories (to help you stay perky).
  4. If you do opt for fast-burning carbs, counteract them with fiber-rich foods — even a snack-size portion of carrot sticks can slow the release of sugar into your blood stream. Fiber also helps you stay full longer, so you don’t get distracted by cravings. Use this chart to check the fiber content of common grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables. (Berries and lentils are big winners in the fiber department.)
  5. Avoid foods that you know make you feel sluggish or bloated. Gluten, dairy, and soy are common culprits.

Get into the focus and memory zone. We all know the feeling when our mind wanders and nothing sticks. You scan the same paragraph over and over. And just when you finally feel like you’ve got it and flip the page, whoosh! It’s gone.

The ability to concentrate and retain information, like your energy level, depends on how you tune your instrument. Studies show that diet and exercise choices not only affect mental alertness, but also memory formation. Fortunately, it doesn’t require a diet overhaul. There’s lots of easy stuff that you can do right now to make today (and tomorrow) work better.

  1. Get in a half hour of low to moderate intensity aerobic workout. No need to cross-fit or marathon-train to get brain-boosting benefits. Instead of carpooling, take a brisk walk to work. Or jump on a bike. Or get on the elliptical, where you can review an important brief while your blood gets pumping. Exercise and learning are the perfect multi-tasking companions; working out during or just before a demanding learning task has been shown to improve memory or brain performance. 
  2. Stay hydrated. A parched system can tire you and cause headaches, making it hard to concentrate. You know the drill: eight eight-ounce glasses of water throughout the day. And avoid the double-whammy of sodas and alcohol when you need to get stuff done: They dehydrate you and funk up your blood sugar and digestion.
  3. In addition to plenty of water, eight foods that help you focus are blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and nuts.

Tend to your immune system. On average, we get two to five colds a year. But studies show that it’s possible to halve your chances of getting sick with some simple choices.

  1. Just 20 minutes of light to moderate exercise (enough to break a sweat) five days a week will boost your immune system. If you do catch a bug, researchers found that regular exercise can reduce the length and severity.
  2. Eat lots of fruit, especially citrus, during cold season. The vitamin and mineral benefits boost your immune systems, and Vitamin C can actually help reduce the duration of a cold by a day.
  3. Avoid suppressing your immune system with sugar and alcohol. These indulgences make you more vulnerable to bugs and can slow recovery.
  4. Sleep well because when your sleep is out of sync with your schedule, your immune system suffers. When ready for bed, shut off screens — TV, smart phones, tablets, computers — and dim lights to cue your body for rest.

Boost your body to boost your mood. Confidence, stress, and happiness levels are hugely influenced by chemical and hormonal fluctuations in the body — i.e., diet and exercise. And they, of course, affect your productivity. These three actions will pump up your mood to power through your to-do list:

  1. If you’re a non-morning person who needs to function in the A.M., eating breakfast regularly helps you avoid becoming tired and cranky. Eat something light — not too much fat, not too many fast-burning carbs — such as a shake with almond or soy milk and fresh or frozen fruit. And don’t eat until you’re fully alert, which is when your body is ready to start digesting.
  2. Regulate your coffee intake. While caffeine can jolt you awake, too much at the wrong time, like early morning on a empty stomach, can kick you into an adrenalin overload, stressing your system, and leaving you with the jitters or mood swings. However, an afternoon coffee (go easy on the sugar) is a good offset to the slowness caused by a heavy lunch.
  3. Finally, there are so many benefits to exercise that there’s really no reason not to. For instance, just 20 minutes of walking or other mild workout will boost endorphins and other chemicals that give you a feeling of euphoria, help your body and mind reset, and leave you feeling clearer and fresher.

This article originally appeared on unstuck.com and was written by Unstuck

How to Cope When The Holidays Are a Time of Grief

The holidays might be anything but happy when you’re going through griefheartbreak, or disappointment. Just as festive decorations and music that are meant to spark joy can turn into reminders of your loss or frustration, the end of the year can also generally be a lonely, challenging time.

Although there’s no magic switch to instantly recover from pain, grief is a valuable, healthy process. It puts your resilience to the test. You discover strengths you didn’t know you had and you learn that you can feel sadness without getting stuck in it. Most of all, you unearth opportunities to improve your relationships and well-being as well as prioritize what matters most.  

While there’s no right or wrong way to grieve, the strategies below can help you deal with the loneliness of loss during holidays in some of its different forms.  

You feel grief for a lost loved one

The holidays will be different now, so decide which holiday traditions you want to keep to honor someone and which ones you might want to change. You might also create new rituals to honor a memory, like making a donation in their name or playing holiday music they enjoyed.

Be open to offers of help from siblings, relatives, and friends. Scale back on gifts and decorating if it feels too painful. It’s okay to take things one day at a time and say no if you feel too overwhelmed.

You’re recovering from a job loss

Layoffs are common around the holidays and losing your job suddenly can be traumatic, particularly as you prepare to gather with friends and family. Even though you may find yourself vacillating between strong emotions like shock, sadness, and anger, try not to get bogged in defeatist thinking.

Rewrite the negative stories playing in your mind that it’s your fault or that you’ll be broke forever. Focus on what you can control, like starting small and sending one email a day to someone in your network. A job loss can actually be a clean slate that allows you to pursue a new direction (maybe changing careers or starting a business?), so hone your skill at spotting opportunities. Take advantage of the holidays to reflect on your values and plan for the year ahead.

You’re getting over a breakup

December is the most popular time for couples to split. The holiday spirit of togetherness only magnifies the loneliness of singledom. Instead of focusing on a lost relationship, appreciate the love that does surround you. Keep plans to see friends and family, but have a kind-but-firm responseprepared to set a boundary when people ask about your relationship status. Writing a goodbye letter to your ex (that you don’t send) is also a great way to find closure after breaking up.  

Remember to be a good partner to yourself, too. Follow through on personal goals like getting to the gym or cooking nutritious meals on weekdays. It’s a great way to build confidence during emotionally rocky times.

A happy holiday may seem out of reach if you’re hurting right now. There’s no shame in feeling awful for a little while. Cryjournalcreate — take whatever action you need to find peace including seeking professional help. But don’t pretend like your grief isn’t real. Shock, sadness, and anger are valid emotions. Allowing yourself to move through the natural healing process — while hard — is the key to moving forward and enjoying yourself this holiday season.


This article originally appeared on unstuck.com and was written by Melody Wilding 

Calcium Sensor: Exciting Technology for Disease Detection

Key processes in the body are controlled by the concentration of calcium in and around cells. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München have developed the first sensor molecule that is able to visualize calcium in living animals with the help of a radiation-free imaging technique known as optoacoustics. The method does not require the cells to be genetically modified and involves no radiation exposure.

Calcium waves -- a new sensor converts light to sound to visualize calcium fluxes in the body.Credit: B. van Rossum, G. Westmeyer / Technical University of Munich

Calcium is an important messenger in the body. In nerve cells, for example, calcium ions determine whether signals are relayed to other nerve cells. And whether a muscle contracts or relaxes depends on the concentration of calcium in the muscle cells. This is also true of the most vital muscle in our body -- the heart.

"Because calcium plays such an important role in essential organs such as the heart and brain, it would be interesting to be able to observe how calcium concentrations change deep within living tissues and in this way to improve our understanding of disease processes. Our sensor molecule is a small first step in this direction," says Gil Gregor Westmeyer, head of the study and Professor of Molecular Imaging at TUM and Research Group Leader at Helmholtz Zentrum München. In the study, which was published in in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Professor Thorsten Bach of the TUM's Department of Chemistry was also involved. The researchers have already tested their molecule in the heart tissue and brains of living zebra fish larvae.

Calcium measurements also possible in deep tissue

The sensor can be measured using a relatively new, non-invasive imaging method known as optoacoustics, which makes it suitable for use in living animals -- and later possibly also in humans. The method is based on ultrasound technology, which is harmless for humans and uses no radiation. Laser pulses heat up the photoabsorbing sensor molecule in tissue. This causes the molecule to expand briefly, resulting in the generation of ultrasound signals. The signals are then sensed by ultrasound detectors and are translated into three-dimensional images.

As light passes through tissue, it is scattered. For this reason, images under a light microscope become blurred at depths of less than a millimeter. This highlights another advantage of optoacoustics: ultrasound undergoes very little scattering, producing sharp images even at depths of several centimeters. This is particularly useful for examining the brain, because existing methods only penetrate a few millimeters below the brain surface. But the brain has such a complex three-dimensional structure with various functional areas that the surface only makes up a small part of it. The researchers therefore aim to use the new sensor to measure calcium changes deep inside living tissue. They have already achieved results in the brains of zebrafish larvae.

Nontoxic and radiation-free

Additionally, the scientists have designed the sensor molecule so that it is easily taken up by living cells. Moreover, it is harmless to tissues and works based on a color change: as soon as the sensor binds to calcium, its color changes which in turn changes the light-induced optoacoustic signal.

Many imaging methods for visualizing calcium changes that are currently available require genetically modified cells. They are programmed, for example, to fluoresce whenever the calcium concentration in the cell changes. The problem with this, of course, is that it is not possible to carry out such genetic interventions in humans.

The new sensor overcomes this limitation, the scientists say. In the future, the researchers plan to refine the properties of the molecule further, allowing the sensor signals to be measured in even deeper tissue layers. To this end, the team headed by Gil Gregor Westmeyer must generate further variants of the molecule that absorb light of a longer wavelength than cannot be perceived by the human eye.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Technical University of Munich (TUM)

Journal Reference:

  1. Sheryl Roberts, Markus Seeger, Yuanyuan Jiang, Anurag Mishra, Felix Sigmund, Anja Stelzl, Antonella Lauri, Panagiotis Symvoulidis, Hannes Rolbieski, Matthias Preller, X. Luís Deán-Ben, Daniel Razansky, Tanja Orschmann, Sabrina C. Desbordes, Paul Vetschera, Thorsten Bach, Vasilis Ntziachristos, Gil G. Westmeyer. Calcium Sensor for Photoacoustic ImagingJournal of the American Chemical Society, 2017; DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b03064

Technical University of Munich (TUM). "Visible signals from brain and heart: Imaging: New sensor visualizes calcium in living animals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171130112358.htm>.

45 Sleep Tips That Will Make You Fall Asleep In 7 Minutes Or Less

Do you struggle to get to sleep at night? Or do you find yourself dropping off around midnight only to be wide awake at 2 or 3am? If this sounds all too familiar to you then you could be searching for tips to help you sleep better.

Even if you usually sleep well, if you are a first time parent you might be struggling to get your baby to sleep through and need some tips for helping baby sleep through the night. As someone who can’t function without a solid 7-8 hours of sleep every night, a new baby completely changes your life and finding a way to get them to sleep through feels like the holy grail!

Lack of sleep can totally change your life and you could find yourself losing concentration at work, becoming short tempered and picking up every cough and cold that is going around the office. There’s a reason sleep disturbance was used as torture!

We’ve put together a list of tips to improve sleep – everything from getting your bedroom’s temperature right to little tricks to help you stay asleep until morning. So if you’re struggling with insomnia or struggling to get into a pattern while working night shifts, read on for some helpful advice and tips to sleep better.


#1 Get in a Routine

One of the simplest things you can do is make sure you have a set routine before bed. This doesn’t have to be complicated or long winded, just a set few things you do before switching off and laying down for the night. You could turn the TV off, go into the kitchen and finish up the dishes or any little chores in there then have a wash, brush your teeth and get into your pyjamas.

Even these few simple steps can trick your mind into feeling sleepy and if you repeat this pattern your body will get used to the signs it is ready for sleep. You can add in steps that suit you such as reading a few pages of a book or drinking a hot drink but generally doing these things in the same order night after night will eventually get your body into a routine and help you drop into a deep sleep.

If you really think about it, having a bedtime routine is something we learn when we are babies. There are plenty of newborn sleep tips out there but having a routine before bedtime is definitely the number one thing that helps them get to sleep quickly.


There are plenty of newborn sleep tips out there but having a routine before bedtime is definitely the number one thing that helps them get to sleep quickly. There’s a great YouTube video of a routine that you can use for your little one. You can pick up the signs your child is sleepy by watching them closely, if they start rubbing their eyes or their eyes look “glassy” then it is a sure sign bedtime is getting close!


#2 Avoid Drinking Alcohol Before Bed


Alcohol might help you drop off to sleep, but drinking alcohol before bed actually reduces your quality of sleep and can make you feel even more tired when you wake up. Have you ever noticed how you think you’ve slept soundly after a couple of glasses of wine but when you wake up in the morning it feels like you’ve hardly slept at all?

That is the stimulant in the alcohol that is keeping you in the wrong stage of sleep. It reduces the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and studies have shown alpha brain wave patterns increase which is the brain pattern used when the brain is awake but resting.

So while you think you’re sleeping, your brain hasn’t actually “switched off” due to the alcohol. You might also wake in the middle of the night and feel wide awake.

This is due to the interference with your brain’s usual patterns and could cause insomnia. The odd drink before bed is fine, but if you’re finding yourself drinking night after night then you could be building up weeks of bad sleeping habits which will leave you feeling drained.


#3 Set an Alarm to Remind You to Sleep


This sounds weird, as usually we’re setting alarms to wake us up, but bear with me! Setting an alarmto remind you to sleep can actually mean you sleep better, and longer. We can all get caught up in the day and find ourselves lost in a good book or engrossed in a movie. This can lead to the time just slipping away from you and before you know it it’s 1am in the morning and you’ve missed your whole sleep routine and only have a few hours left to get some shut eye!

Set an alarm for around 30 minutes before bedtime to give yourself time to go through your sleep routine. You can even list your routine in order if you’re a bit forgetful (like me!). How many times have we looked at the clock and been shocked at the time? This will keep you on track to get your 8 hours and help you feel more refreshed in the morning.


#4 Keep Your Bedroom Dark

The Effects of Light to Sleep

Light can really affect how easily we fall to sleep and how deeply we actually sleep through the night. As you’ll know if you’ve ever stayed in a hotel in the middle of a city and there’s streetlights and light pollution streaming in through the window, it can really affect the quality of your sleep overall.

Making your bedroom dark is scientifically proven to help you get to sleep fast and stay asleep. It is all to do with your body’s circadian rhythm and how your body produces hormones and chemicals in reaction to light and dark. This rhythm literally controls your body’s sleep/wake cycle. Not just in humans but everything on the planet including plants and even fungi!

Artificial lights can trick your body into thinking it is daytime and keeps you awake. Although your bedside light isn’t as powerful as the sun, even that little bit of light can be enough to cause disruptions in your body’s natural rhythm. The answer is simple. Invest in a decent blackout blind or thick curtains and block out all that light pollution from outside.

Unless you are very lucky and live out in the wilds with no neighbours or street lights, you will deal with some form of light pollution. Try to keep lights in the rest of the house to a minimum – perhaps using a very dim light in the bathroom and turning everything else off.

For babies and infants though, a low level of light can help to soothe them back to sleep if they wake. A night light can help them feel safe and relaxed when they wake instead of being in complete darkness. There’s also the added bonus of being able to see where you are going when you have to go into them in the middle of the night.


#5  Make Your Bed Cozy and Comfortable


We should all be changing our sheets at least every two weeks – but honestly how many of us do? It isn’t as if we keep an internal calendar for these things, and often you can’t remember when you last had a bit of a spring clean. You should wash your bedding on a low setting and add a fabric softener for that just washed soft feeling.

Ideally, you should air dry your sheets outside but in the winter just use the tumble drier on a cool setting. Make sure your sheets are completely dry before you remake your bed, there’s nothing cozy about a damp bed!

So if you’re finding your bed isn’t sending you off to sleep, try washing and changing your sheets. Even the psychological benefit of sleeping in fresh sheets can help you have a better night’s sleep.


#6 Drink Something to Help You Sleep Better


Sometimes we really need something comforting before bed to help us drop off to sleep. Warm milk has been proven to boost sleep as it is rich in an amino acid called tryptophan. This is a sleep-inducing chemical which can help you get a better night’s rest. It can also have a psychological effect as many of us will be transported back to being a baby again and given a bottle of milk before bedtime. There are some great recipes out there to help you find a tasty and comforting bedtime drink.

If milk isn’t your thing, you can always add something to it and make a cocoa or even mix in some honey which also has soporific qualities as well as a range of other health benefits. And the great thing is they are suitable for dairy free diets as well; just use a soy, rice or almond milk instead of dairy. The added benefit with almond milk is that it has the same sleep inducing qualities as regular milk.

Herbal teas are also great for relaxing and dropping off to sleep. Chamomile is the most commonly used sleep aid as it boosts sleep, eases insomnia and even helps medical problems like menstrual cramps. This fragrant flower can be drunk on its own in a cup of hot water or mixed with other sleep inducing herbs like lavendervalerian or passion flower.

Not only does it taste great, but it eases anxiety and helps you calm your thoughts before bedtime. There is also a really old nighttime sleep remedy which is tart cherry juice. Although it sounds like a strange thing to drink, people swear by it for helping children and infants drop off to sleep. Other tried and tested remedies include banana smoothies, coconut water or a specially-blended bedtime tea.


#7 Drop into a Deep Sleep with a Sleep Mask


Night shift workers are some of the hardest hit by insomnia and bad sleeping patterns. So badly, that it has its own name – Shift Work Disorder. It stands to reason really, trying to sleep when the rest of the world is awake will set your body clock off on the wrong path.

But for some people in the emergency services or other demanding lines of work, night shifts are unavoidable. For these people it is even more important they are alert and on top of their game through the day or night so getting a proper night’s sleep is more important than ever. When I worked night shifts, I found a simple, free tip that worked miracles.

A sleep mask. Just one of those free eye masks you’re given on a long haul flight really changed my life. By blocking out all of the light, you can get to sleep much easier as your brain is tricked into thinking it is night time. By sleeping at the “right” time (or so your brain thinks) you get a deeper, better quality sleep and wake up feeling much more refreshed. There are lots of tips out there to help you sleep better on night shift but getting a good sleep mask is a great start. And even if you don’t work nights, this can work for you too – especially if you are sensitive to light.



#8 Make Your Bedroom an Electrical-Free Zone

We all know we should be cutting down on screen time through the day, but did you know it could be causing you to have a bad night’s sleep? Two thirds of adults take their smartphones to bed and the little blue light coming from your phone or tablet could be causing your sleep to deteriorate. Research shows this light actually suppresses melatonin – the chemical we need for sleep.


So instead of relaxing while you’re laying in bed scrolling through Facebook, you are actually waking yourself up. Watching videos, reading the news and just chatting with your friends on social media all stimulates your brain. So at the time you’re supposed to be winding down your brain is actually working as hard as it does through the day. And receiving a stressful email from your boss could keep you awake and tossing and turning all night. Switch off at least an hour before bed and you will start to notice the effects that technology has on sleep.

And definitely keep it on silent overnight. Using your bed as an extension of your office doesn’t make it seem like a place you want to go to sleep. If you associate your bed with work, is it any wonder you’ll find it hard to sleep?


#9 Cut Out the Caffeine


Coffee is great and, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d get through the morning without it. However, drinking a cup of coffee too late in the day can keep you awake all night or leave you with disturbed sleep. Surprisingly, a study showed that even drinking caffeine 6 hours before bedtimereduced sleep.

It affects older people more as it takes them longer to get rid of the caffeine in their systems. Effects of caffeine can last for as long as 14 hours so if you’re finding it hard to sleep the try cutting it out altogether and see what happens to your sleep patterns. Three eight ounce cups of coffee is the “normal” amount but if you’re consuming this or fewer then it might be worth getting rid of the coffee altogether.


#10 Exercise During the Day


Did you know exercising near bedtime can actually wake you up, instead of tiring you out and making you sleep? Studies show that people who are active within two hours of their bedtime can suffer insomnia. This is because your body is releasing adrenaline and cortisol from the workout which acts as a mechanism to keep you awake.

While many people find exercise actually helps them sleep deeper, being at the gym a couple of hours before you want to go to sleep has the opposite effect. Post workout insomnia is real, so if you can squeeze your gym session in before going to work in the morning, or even grab a 30 minute session during your lunch hour, you will find your sleep will be greatly improved.


#11 Avoid Big Meals Late in the Day


Have you ever lain awake at night after a big meal feeling a little big sick and wishing you’d only had one helping of pie? Well eating late in the day can cause more than heartburn and an uncomfortable feeling – it could actually be keeping you awake!

Eating late at night, or through the night if you’re working on a night shift, can cause your body clock to change and even lead to weight gain. You may find you have a nasty acid reflux feeling when you lay down and if you’re suffering with that when it comes to bedtime it could be a sign you need to eat earlier in the evening. While your body is programmed to eat a large meal before rest, make sure you eat at least two hours before lying down to sleep so your body has time to digest.


#12 Transform Your Bedroom Decor


Is your bedroom needing an update? Some people paint their bedrooms garish colours or install fairy lights and other accessories which may look great but could be harming your sleep. A good bedroom design for sleep should be restful and peaceful. Make sure your bed is against a solid wall – not up against a window or door where drafts may get in.

Clear away piles of clothes, cluttered work surfaces and anything else which might add to a chaotic and overwhelming room. Your tabletops should be clear and the floor space around your bed should be easy to walk around. Good colours for bedrooms are pale and muted with a comforting vibe. Go for warm colours and neutrals to make your bedroom feel cozy and inviting. Think about finishing touches that bring you happiness and peace, a framed picture of your family or an image you took on a fantastic holiday will also help you feel calm and comforted when you are trying to get to sleep.


#13 Keep Your Bed for Sleep

In this constantly demanding world, it can be hard to reserve a space specifically for sleeping but if you can do it then it will improve the length and overall quality of your sleep.

It can be tempting to use your bedroom for many things (watching TV, entertaining your little ones and even eating!) but keeping one room reserved just for sleep can actually help you get better rest. If you can associate that room with peace and tranquility instead of answering emails or watching TV, then your body will automatically start to shut off when you go in and close the door.


#14 Is Your Room the Right Temperature?

Too hot? Too cold? Or, just right? It’s not just Goldilocks that struggled to find the right sleeping environment, many of us don’t realise how much temperature affects the quality of our sleep. A temperature of between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit has been proven to aid sleep and many of us don’t have this set correctly.

If you go to check your thermostat right now, most of us would see it us set a few degrees higher than this and means it is not at the right level for sleep. If you do feel the cold, try to turn down your thermostat just before going to bed, say about 30 minutes before you would usually turn in, and then the temperature will cool down as you are winding down. If you’re too hot, stick your feet out of the covers as your body naturally uses your hands and feet to reduce heat. Too cold? Then putting on socks can help you feel cozy and warm.


#15 White Noise and Background Noise

This is a really helpful tip to help babies get to sleep. White noise can help to drown out other sudden noises or sounds that happen in the night and could disturb you. It does seem crazy to start making a noise on purpose when you’re trying to sleep but this method really works for some people.

If you are listening to white noise, it is just better noise than traffic, car horns or talking. Your hearing still works while you are sleeping which is why you get woken up by a banging door or a noisy car alarm. By using white noise, you are tuning your hearing into a consistent sound which means your brain is likely to ignore the other infrequent noises which it will consider “background” noise.

There are loads of great YouTube videos out there which play white noise for up to ten hours! So if you’re struggling to sleep, why not switch it on and give it a try?


#16 Ban Your Pets

We all love our dogs, cats and any other furry (or not so furry) pets in our home but when it comes to bedtime they really need to be banned. While they might be a lovely, cute ball of fluff to cuddle up to it could be leading to a disrupted night’s sleep. If you’ve ever watched your dog sleep, for example, you’ll see they take several naps throughout the day rather than the human way of sleeping all at once overnight.

This means in the night they may get up and down, head to the kitchen for a drink or a bite to eat and even bark at unusual sounds. Many dog trainers advocate keeping dogs off the bed as it helps them understand the pack hierarchy and know their place within the family.

As an aside, dogs can also bring in allergens on their fur such as pollen and other allergy-causing substances which could lead to breathing problems. Lastly, a big plus point is the avoidance of a slobbery wake up in the early hours of the morning when your pet thinks it’s time for breakfast!


#17 Does Your Mattress Need Replacing?


We spend a third of our lives asleep and yet so many people skimp on mattresses and don’t see it as an important investment. If you compare it to the other places you may spend a lot of time, like your car, you see how much your mattress is overlooked. But a lumpy, old mattress could be making you wake up through the night or toss and turn as you try to get comfortable.

Even if you don’t wake fully, the lack of proper, deep sleep can make you feel groggy and tired the next morning. You may also find your mattress has become full of dust or allergens which can make it difficult to breathe properly or lead to sleep apnea. 20 million Americans are allergic to dust mites so if you’re not sleeping well then it might be time to clean or replace your mattress.


#18 Keep Napping to a Minimum


I know, I know, most people don’t have time for an afternoon nap but I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve found yourself getting 40 winks on a Sunday afternoon. For most people who nap regularly, it doesn’t affect their sleep at all as they’ve got into a routine over years. But for irregular nappers or people who try to “catch up” at weekends, this style of sleeping can cause more problems than you think. There is a really handy list of dos and don’ts which covers the best way to nap.

In short, keep them short (around 10 to 30 minutes maximum), take naps between 2pm and 3pm in the afternoon as it is less likely to interfere with your evening sleep and create a restful environment so the sleep you do get is good quality and will allow you to wake up feeling alert and refreshed.


#19 Try More Sheets or Blankets

Sure, these sheets might cost a little extra but as we mentioned above you’re going to be spending a lot of time asleep so you may as well invest a little. If you tend to get too hot when you’re sleeping, invest in a cooling material like Egyptian cotton or even buy some moisture wicking sheets to keep your sweat free.

As much as people don’t think about the mattress they are sleeping on, the type of blankets, duvet or sheets you use also doesn’t seem to be as important. But making sure you’ve got the right bedding can really help you get a proper night’s sleep. Invest in good quality bedding and sheets which feel soft and luxurious.

Always wash your new sheets before they go on your bed and do it thoroughly to remove any irritants or bits that may have gotten onto them during the manufacturing process. You should also check your detergent. If your bed linens are good quality but you’re getting itchy or irritated, it could be your washing powder. Switch it up or use a hypoallergenic version to see if that makes a difference to your sleep.


#20 Keep the Same Bedtime – Even on Weekends


Yes we all love to go out on a Friday and forget about the time, but if you’re battling insomnia then the worst thing to do is get out of a regular routine. This is particularly important for children as their sleep patterns aren’t as well adjusted as most adults.

One of the top mistakes most parents make is getting a child into a regular bedtime during the week (say 7pm in bed Monday to Friday) but then come the weekend it goes out of the window and they’re allowed up hours later on Friday and Saturday. Is it any wonder then that come Sunday night they’re wide awake at bedtime? Keeping the same bedtime at the weekend may feel mean if the rest of the family is staying awake but in the long run it will benefit your little ones.


#21 Write Down a “to do” List


Do you find yourself laying in bed with all the jobs for tomorrow swirling around your head? It can be difficult to switch off when your brain is trying to remember a million jobs and tasks that you have to do the next day. Get into the habit of keeping a pen and paper next to the bed and use it to write down anything you have to do tomorrow.

That way, your brain knows that everything you have to remember is safely contained in the notepad and it can stop trying to remind you constantly. This is one of the tricks used by some of the most successful people in the world as not only does it aid sleep but it also helps you to be more productive and complete more tasks.


#22 Keep a Journal


Many of us can lay awake thinking about what has happened that day. Maybe a meeting didn’t go as you’d planned or something upset you. By writing them down in a journal and coming up with a solution for these issues (even if it is just I will deal with it tomorrow) can help you consciously clear your mind and get ready for sleep.


#23 Meditation


Mindfulness and meditation can really help to tackle sleep problems. Clearing your mind is the key to getting a good night’s sleep and this works particularly well if you are feeling anxious. Meditation is also particularly helpful during pregnancy when many mums to be feel worried or unsure.

This not only helps to calm mum down but it can also be beneficial to the baby as they respond well to a calmer environment. Meditation can be done anywhere but if you are specifically trying to get to sleep, make sure the room is peaceful and you may want to play some soothing music to help you.

Not sure how to meditate or where to start? There’s some great guided meditation videos that can help you to learn how to meditate and relax before bed.


#24 Relax in a Warm Bath

Taking a bath has been scientifically proven to help you sleep better. When you are in a warm bath, your skin temperature increases. But as you get out and get into bed, the rapid cooling of your skin as it hits the outside air tricks your body into thinking it is bedtime. The body naturally wants to cool down before sleep so by faking this by taking a hot bath you are increasing the likelihood that you will be able to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.

Think about taking a bath around an hour before you want to go to bed. Aromatherapy oils or scented bath products that include lavender or verbena can also release chemicals that aid sleep.


#25 Scatter Some Aromatherapy Scents in Your Bedroom


There are many calming scents you can use to make your bedroom a cozy haven for sleep. Lavender is the most commonly used aromatherapy oil and one of many natural sleep tips to boost sleep but you can also use sandalwood, marjoram and many other oils to help you feel sleepy and rested. As well as using oil burners to spread the scent in your room, you can also apply them to your pulse points and also sprinkle a few drops on your pillow. This works particularly well in infants and children.

Visit https://www.gotoilsupplies.com/blog/12-essential-oils-sleep/ for some ideas on which essential oils to use.


#26 Walk Around and Do Something Calming

This sounds wrong but if you’re laying in bed stressing about sleep – get up! If you know you’re unlikely to drop off after waking up in the middle of the night then moving from your bed into a chair to read or relax somewhere for a while will help you to dissociate your bed from a stressful night of tossing and turning. It means you can take 10 or 15 minutes away from your bed and then return to try again for sleep.

Resist the temptation to switch on the TV or pick up your phone though, the light from these devices can actually make you feel more awake and stop you from getting back to sleep. Try to keep the lights low and read a book, listen to music or just have a glass of water. By removing yourself from the bed for a little while you can go back in without laying there getting too wound up about your inability to sleep.


#27 Prep the Night Before


This will not only help you sleep but having a preparation checklist to complete before sleep can totally change your life. Lay out tomorrow’s clothes, including shoes, jewellery and any accessories so it is all in the same place and easy to grab and get dressed. Prep your breakfast, lunch and think about defrosting something for dinner if you need to. Pack a bag of gym clothes, get everything you need for the next day in one bag in one place and then set your alarms. You’re good to go!


#28 Don’t Watch the Clock


We have all done it – try to calculate how many hours of rest you can get if you fall asleep right now! Instead of focusing on the time, you need to do some other tips on this list like meditating or completing your checklist. Staring at the clock will only leave you feeling anxious, which is the opposite feeling you need when trying to drift off into a good night’s sleep. If you use a clock as an alarm, simply try to have it face the wall so you are not tempted to peek at it all night long.


#29 Wear Socks to Bed


While some of you probably hate the concept of keeping your socks on through the night, this sleep tip might do the trick. If you want to fall asleep faster then you should keep your hands and feet a tad bit warmer. After all, have you realized that as soon as you climb into bed, you try to warm yourself up by wiggling your body around? Being cold and falling asleep is not as pleasant as the opposite. As annoying as it might seem, try to keep your socks on one night and see if it helps you experience rapid sleep onset.


#30 Dip Your Face in Freezing Water


Okay, so this item might seem like the exact opposite of the warm sock trick, but hear it out. Did you know your body triggers an involuntary response called mammalian dive reflex when you submerge your face in cold water? It’s true, and it allows you to help control your nerves to relax. The experience basically resets your nervous systems so you can take charge of your body. Try this sleep tip right before bed and your entire body should feel a bit more relaxed.


#31 Create a Dream Pillow


Have you ever heard of a dream pillow? It is a pillow that is infused with particular scents. You already know that aromatherapy can help create a better night’s sleep. So why not take this one step further and add it to your pillow? Essential oils such as peppermint, lavender, and chamomile not only help you fall asleep faster, but they can keep you in a deep sleep far longer. A good pillow is essential for neck and back support, too. Join the two together to get some well-needed rest. You can create your own or buy one online.


#32 Turn on Some Tunes


Jamming out to heavy metal or getting down to some R&B will not help you sleep better. However, binaural beats might have you falling asleep sooner. They are a particular sound wave that can help relax your brain in various states. All you have to do is listen to the sound waves through your headphones while you are resting. Binaural beats are a special music that might take you to sleepy town a little faster.


#33 Do the 4-7-8 Controlled Breathing Method


If you slow down your breathing, it can help you relax and fall asleep. This method, which is known as the 4-7-8 technique, can allow more oxygen to the brain. All you have to do is inhale in through your nasal passages slowly for about four seconds. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth as you inhale. Keep your breath for roughly seven seconds and then let it out, slowly, for eight seconds. Repeat this breathing pattern to relax your body. It might feel a little strange, but you will get used to it and appreciate the benefits.


#34 Get a Massage


In order to unwind before you fall asleep, you should get a massage. Focus on your neck, back, and shoulders because that is where your muscles are the tensest. Believe it or not, having tension in these body parts can hinder your sleep. Ask your partner to rub your back, neck, and shoulders using small circular motions. A little bit can go a long way!


#35 Wear Some Comfy PJs


You already know you should have comfortable bedding and a newer mattress. However, have you ever considered what you are wearing to bed? It should always be something comfy and loose opposed to tight-fitting clothes that restrict your movement. Always try to wear cotton, too, because your skin can breathe easier. Satin and other materials will hold your sweat in leaving you uncomfortable. If you prefer to sleep in the nude, go for it!


#36 Read a Book


It’s a good idea to do something for about 15 to 20 minutes prior to going to bed. These activities should not include things like working out, playing video games, and staring at your phone because they will keep you up later. If you want a hobby that truly relaxes you, try reading a book before bed. Even if it’s a page-turner, you will find yourself dozing off within a half hour. If you don’t want to get into a good paperback, you can check out Kindle e-books, but be careful of the artificial light.


#37 Soak Up the Sun


During the morning, afternoon, and early evening, you should try to get a healthy amount of sun exposure. How can this help you fall asleep at night? Naturally, you can tire yourself out, but did you know that sunlight increases the production of serotonin, too? This hormone is produced by the body to keep you awake. After the serotonin in your body hits a peak level, it will cease and the melatonin production starts, which makes you sleepy. That old saying about waking up and going to bed with the sun is a great way to perfect your sleep schedule.


#38 Use FLUX


Have you ever heard of FLUX? It is a program that reduces blue light on your computer screen. Like other artificial light, this can confuse your brain to think you should be awake. The blue light your PC gives off simulates sunlight and your eyes cannot tell the difference. Therefore, your body continues to produce serotonin, which keeps you wide awake. Luckily, it’s easy to download the FLUX programand immediately change that eye-opening side effect.


#39 Get Busy Between the Sheets


Just before trying to fall asleep, you and your partner should have sex. Why? Because the act usually makes you feel tired, especially for men. Not only does the physical act wear you out, but having an orgasm has several health benefits including better sleep. The next time you are cuddling under the covers with your partner, try getting warm together and falling asleep faster.


#40 Cease All Snoring


Whether it is you or your partner making this pig-like noises, try your best to stop it. Not only is the sound enough to keep you awake, but snoring actually is a result of a blocked airway. Therefore, you can wake yourself up trying to catch your breath. There are several breathing techniques that can help reduce or stop your snoring as well as nose strips and other snoring aids. You and your partner will be grateful.


#41 Breathe Through the Left Nostril


This sleep tip might sound a little silly, but it’s worth a try. It’s not as effective as the 4-7-8 breathing method, but it’s worth a shot. As you are lying down in bed with your eyes closed, hold one nostril closed. Breathing through just one should simulate a relaxing effect although it is not proven. The method aims to calm your body and mind enough to drift off into a deep sleep.


#42 Stretch Your Muscles


Did you know that your muscles become tight and tense after being active all day? You don’t have to be a fitness buff or exercise guru for this to happen. Before you climb into bed, you should stretch your muscles to relax and fall asleep faster. A bath or massage can help achieve this, but so can a foam roller and a little yoga.


#43 Take Melatonin Before Bed


Your body naturally produces the melatonin in the brain. The levels of this particular hormone tend to rise and fall throughout the day in an effort to control your sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin can be altered, though, by artificial light and so on. You can eat foods with melatonin or take a supplement to help it kick in at the right hour. WebMD explains how the right amount of melatonin can help you sleep better at night.


#44 Restrict Video Games


Unless you want to have lucid dreams, you should cut down on the amount of time you play video games, especially before bed. Use your amazing hand-eye coordination when it is still light outside. If you reduce your time on video games to the afternoon or early evening, it might be easier for you to unwind right before bed.


#45 Imagine Walking Down a Staircase


You probably heard of the counting sheep trick, but have you ever tried to visualize yourself walking down a staircase? It might help you fall asleep at night. After getting into bed, all you have to do to relax is close your eyes and picture yourself taking each step. As you go the staircase, allow your body and mind to feel more and more relaxed.



So if you’re struggling to get to sleep (and maybe even reading this in the middle of the night!) then hopefully these healthy sleep tips will give you the information you need to get back to sleep. Whether you need to revamp your bedroom, get prepared for the day ahead or just switch on some white noise there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you’re getting a better night’s sleep.

If you find this article helpful, then please share it with your friends and if you got any tips for better sleep add them in the comments below. I hope you find this helpful and cheers to a better night’s sleep for everyone!

This article originally appeared on www.thesleepjudge.com and was written by Candace Osmond