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10 Ways You Can Sleep Better, Longer
WELLNESS 10/06/2039 7:00 AM ET
10 Ways You Can Sleep Better, Longer

Cara Shulz
Author, healthy living lover

CC BY 4.0 Concorde Saint Lazare Paris France Room 483 by Gary Bembridge | Writer image: CC BY 4.0 Lacy Shadows by Nadia Martinez | Images were cropped. Images used for illustration purposes only.
Creating a comfortable, soothing environment is one of the best things you can do to get good quality sleep.
If there's one thing we all need more of, it's sleep.

According to research from the American Sleep Research Institute, Americans are getting an all time low in sleep each night. We're averaging 6.85 hours, well off an ideal of 8-10 hours, depending on the person.

Lack of sleep can impair memory, coordination and good mood function. Chronic long-term lack of sleep can put you at higher risk of things like stroke, heart attacks and diabetes.

We spoke to Lisa Lanie-Gersowitz from the ASRI about the best ways to get a good night's rest.

1. Ditch the coffee before bed.

"This is probably the easiest change you can make. Studies have shown that caffeine consumed even six hours prior to bedtime can adversely affect a person's sleep, so it's a good idea to keep away from the coffee from late afternoon onward. As a stimulant it naturally counters your efforts to relax."

2. Establish a sleep/sex-only zone.

"Many people use their bedrooms for things other than sleep, which affects the way the brain perceives the space which should be used for rest. If a person associates the space with TV or eating, it may impair his or her ability to focus on the one that they should be doing - sleeping. Establishing a space used only for sleep (and sex) can be a powerful inducement to relax."

3. Cut the tobacco.

"Kicking the addiction to tobacco can be difficult but can lead to better sleep. Studies have proven tobacco interferes with sleep, and of course has a whole host of other negative health outcomes."

4. Make sure your bed is comfy.

"Most people neglect their bed as a source of their poor sleep. Oftentimes people will go far longer than they should without replacing pillows and mattresses, leading to a less than comfortable night time experience, which can impact sleep quality and duration. I urge clients with old bedding to consider upgrading, as a matter of due diligence."

5. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.

"Maintaining a consistent sleeping pattern is crucial to good rest. Aside from the lengthy weekend slumber, humans need a rest pattern that changes very little. The body expects to go to sleep and wake at certain times, and if you change that suddenly it can lead to a lack of quality rest."

6. Stop eating potato chips in bed.

"Eating is something that should be done at least three hours in advance of bedtime. Most people eating close to bedtime are choosing high-fat foods, which can lead to bloating, or other foods which promote reflux. These tabcgs can lead to a poor night's rest. A moderate alternative, rich in natural carbohydrates and proteins, is a safer way to go. It is also important to ensure you don't go to bed hungry."

7. Get to the gym.

"Exercise can be a crucial factor when considering sleep. Some of the worst sleepers I have counseled have been sedentary people who don't move. You know that feeling of tiredness, after a big run or workout session? That's your body telling you that you need rest. Even a moderate amount of exercise (20 minutes of elevated heart rate each day) can improve sleep quality."

8. Make a routine.

"One of the best things a person can do for better sleep is to establish a strong routine. Associate a set of practises which help your mind focus on the end goal of rest. Some people listen to gentle music, or have a bath, or read a book as a matter of habit. It's all about habituating your mind to expect to sleep."

9. Get herbal.

"Certain herbs can help in getting a good night's rest. Some examples are Valerian, Chamomile and Lavender. But herbs should not be used as a magic bullet for those who are sleep deprived. I would use them as part of a holistic solution."

10. Stop worrying.

"If you're anxious about something, it can keep you awake all night. A lot of my clients are highly anxious and need to be taught to relax. Whether it's meditation, simple breathing exercises, or ,just finding someone to talk to, to get whatever's on your chest out in the open, finding ways to reduce anxiety can be key to better rest."
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