We’ve all got our challenges, and I guess one of mine is that I don’t always get enough sleep–which is unhealthy and can also affect my personal level of happiness in a big way.
And, since I know that I’m profoundly normal in this particular aspect of my life, I have put together the following list of tips from the experts on getting more sleep.
1. Quit drinking caffeine after 7 pm in the evening (or three hours before bedtime.) It sounds obvious for most, I’m sure, but I had to include this one because I’m guilty of sipping coffee in the evening hours on a pretty regular basis.
2. Get your exercise. Getting out and moving is not only a great way to increase your happiness in general, but it can significantly improve the quality and quantity of sleep. You’ll feel more like sleeping when you exercise–and you’ll sleep better.
3. Try EFT tapping. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique or Emotional Freedom Therapy (depending on who you ask.) The technique involves a series of acupressure, wherein you tap certain points on your body to create specific effects–including improved sleep, among other things.
4. Try not to eat three hours before bedtime, and especially snacks that involve grains or sugars. Why? Because grains and sugars will raise your blood sugar, giving you lower quality sleep. And, doctors say, when the blood sugar drops later, you could wake up and have trouble falling back asleep.
5. Sleep in darkness. Ok, I admit it, I’m guilty of sleeping with the bathroom light on and the TV tuned to a random sit-com. I could go into the reasons I do this and why it works for me, but that wouldn’t be helping either of us get more sleep. According to researchers, even a small amount of light in your bedroom can disrupt your circadian rhythms, as well as your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, which help to naturally induce and enhance restorative sleep. So, they recommend, sleep without lights or television (which also stimulates the brain and can reduce your chances of a good night’s sleep.)
So how about you? Do you find yourself giving up sleep to accommodate your busy schedule? What are your top tips for getting more or better sleep? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below!
Besides reducing your ability to perform and increasing your risk of making mistakes (sometimes fatal ones), sleep deprivation has been blamed for issues including things such as memory loss and cognitive impairment, depression, relationship stress, various kinds of injuries and generally lower quality of life.
And not only can a lack of sleep affect you mentally and personally, but it can affect you physically too. For example, sleep deprivation has been known to cause physical ailments and symptoms such as high blood pressure and other cardiovascular symptoms, stroke, obesity and more.
While we all know that getting enough sleep is an important component of our mental and physical health, sometimes it’s easier said than done. Everything feels harder when you’re sluggish and tired.
Obviously, the most important thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to just simply get more sleep. But I’m not here to preach at you. You know what you need to do to stay healthy.
What I am here to do is to help you get through today, this moment, right now.
So, in that spirit, I offer the following five ways to boost your energy fast so that you can get done what you need to get done. And after you do, I hope you’ll go take a nap.
Eat Something Good
Eat energy-boosting foods. Skip the candy bars and sweets. As it turns out, Snickers doesn’t really satisfy you. In fact, according to Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, you should eat a healthy snack that has both protein and complex carbs in it.
Gerbstadt says that snacks like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole-grain bread or whole wheat crackers and low-fat cheese are ideal energy-boosters.
“That combination of protein and a complex carbohydrate (digested more slowly than simple carbs) increases your blood glucose in a sustained way,” she says. “It boosts energy longer than if you eat gumdrops, for instance.”
Give Yourself a Little Pressure
And I don’t mean that you should beat yourself up. Next time you’re pooped and pushing through the day on autopilot, try a little self-massage.
“Massage stimulates your nerve endings, which increases blood flow and gets your circulation pumping,” says Maureen Moon, past president of the American Massage Therapy Association in an interview with Parents Magazine.
Moon recommends the following quick pick-me-up massages.
“Using your fingertips, rub your scalp or temples in a gentle, circular motion for two minutes.”
“Vigorously rub each earlobe between your thumb and forefinger for one minute.”
“Place your forefingers behind your ears (where the base of your skull meets the top of your neck), press for ten seconds, release, and repeat.”
Get a Move On
It may sound counter-intuitive, but try getting up and moving your body. You don’t have to go into full-blown workout mode, but try doing five to ten minutes’ worth of exercise. This can be anything from a walk or jog around the block to doing a couple of laps in the pool to dancing around your living room to a good beat. Just move.
“A lot of times when people are fatigued, the last thing they want to do is exercise,” says researcher Patrick O’Connor, PhD, in a news release. “But if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help.”
Drink Some Water
One reason many people feel tired is that they’re actually dehydrated. Studies show that most people don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Next time you’re tired, try drinking a glass of water, and try to stay hydrated throughout the day to maintain your energy levels.
“It’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink,” says a Mayo clinic expert. “By the time you become thirsty, you may already be slightly dehydrated.”
Citrus is Your Friend
Vitamin C is known to help increase both energy and nutrient absorption–and the scent of citrus is proven to increase alertness and energy levels. So eating citrus fruit such as oranges, clementines (my favorite!) or grapefruit can significantly improve your energy levels in a hurry.
“Study after study shows the correlation between citric acid deficiency and chronic fatigue,” says Zen Habits blogger Leo Babauta.
A tip from me to you: have a piece of cheese or lean turkey with your orange to help balance the natural sugar.
I don’t know about you, but some days it’s harder than others for me to find my “happy place.” Everyone has had times in their lives when they feel overwhelmed, over-extended–over it all. And, when times are tough, we all need a little boost to help us find that place within ourselves that brings us back to center. That’s what prompted me to write a post awhile back, aptly titled How to Find Your Happy Place…Even When Life Sucks. Because sometimes, it can really feel like life, well, sucks.
But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you get to decide how your life is going to be, and it all starts in your own head.
Recently, I decided to take a poll of my Facebook friends. I asked them a simple question: What makes you happy?
The responses were well-varied–I got some funny ones as well as some serious ones. But ultimately, everyone was able to identify something that brought them joy. And today, I’m going to share them with you, so that the next time you are struggling to find your happy place, to find something for which to be grateful, you can gain a little inspiration from my friends.
You know how the old song goes, right?
“I get by with a little help from my friends.” Well, this time, you’ll get by with a little help from my friends. And so, without further ado, here are some of the things that bring my friends to their happy places.
“My son.” ~Danielle
“The little things in life…a smile, a simple thank you, a kind word and a hug, and I love you just because. Bigger things: my family and believing some day I will find a sense of peace in this life of madness sometimes.” ~Terri
“Music, more specifically classical music.” ~Carrie
“Seeing my kids happy.” ~Karen
“Being read to. I was told by a college professor that I would appreciate being read to one day. I didn’t believe him until I started working full time in a cubicle. Thank God we are allowed headphones. And thank God we organize our libraries to share audio books retrieved from the library.” ~Kristopher
“My husband, and going to church. Also, memories of my mother and my Aunt June, who are both now gone.” ~Jeanne
“My husband and kids when we are not fighting, my dog when he is not pooping in the house (or getting sprayed by a skunk), coffee, baking and eating, cooking with my husband, rocking my grandson to sleep, playing with my grandson, making crafts, giving a handmade gift to someone and seeing their appreciation, sex, flowers, chocolate, sunshine, rain showers, snow, quiet times, times full of noise and laughter, reading a good book, reading quotes and appreciating someone else’s wisdom, a smiling face, music, artwork, my house when it’s clean, my car when it’s clean, going out dancing with the girls, going out to the movies with the girls, holding hands with someone, dessert, hugs, talking to people, sharing my passions, listening to people and being excited for their passions, signs of spring after winter, signs of fall after summer, a freshly laundered and made bed, cute shoes, clothes that flatter my figure, when my husband tells me how well something flatters my figure, learning new things, humming birds at the feeder, deer walking through camp in the evening, counting my blessings and feeling content.” ~Jen
“Laughing gas, hard to come by unless with whipped cream or dental work.” ~Neil
“The little things (that really are big things) that pop out of your children’s mouths that surprise you! Like…”I love you, Dad,” or “Dad, where is God now?” A campfire on a chilly frosty night…I love it when you turn your backside toward the flames and you look up at the stars! Seeing a plant or flower finally bloom that you planted! Seeing or feeling my wife’s hand in mine. (that one really makes me happy) passing a test I was certain I would flunk! Sun on your face early in the morning when you wake up during the cool of the morning. Doing something new and adventurous. Intimacy…the kind when you are with someone who is just real, no fake-ness and you are completely comfortable with them as a person because you feel no judgment just understanding and acceptance. Writing…” ~John
“Walking both my dogs along the river.” ~Ginger
“Good health and the prospect of a villa in Tuscany.” ~Sylvia
“My grandchildren, good health, and no bills to pay.” ~Monica
“The smile on my children’s faces, my puppies and not fighting with my ex-husband for at least one day out of the week. Times are good.” ~Nicole
“Living, laughing and loving. All three make me happy!” ~Pascha
“A good nights’ sleep. Without a hot flash. I am a simple person.” ~Pam
“Seeing old friends and remembering really fun times! Watching my daughters grow up…playing ball and watching my oldest girl get that devious little smile on her face when she throws the ball hard! Sitting in my ice shanty and hearing the ice crack really loud! It’s scary but I love it! Seeing my wife in a pair of waders and a fly rod in her hand! I really love that.” ~John
So how about you? What makes YOU happy? Tell me in the comments!