Fight stress and achieve your exercise performance goals with these simple tips for getting to the land of Nod and staying there.
1. Set bed time for 10pm
Start to prepare the mind for sleep and relaxation about 30 minutes before. Don’t take phone calls, put work away and stay away from social media. Rather, focus on the post that really matters – the one on the bed.
2. Take a cold shower
Our core body temperature drops when we’re preparing for sleep, so helping the body cool down will improve your body’s ability to get into the land of Nod. In his book, Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, author David K Randall writes: “One study by researchers in Lille, a city in France, found that subjects fell asleep faster and had a better quality of sleep following behaviors that cooled the body, like taking a cold shower before bed.”
3. Blackout blind
Any kind of light signals to the brain that it is morning and time to get up. Blue light in TVs, mobile phones, laptops and tablets all stimulate the brain, which is the last thing you want at night. A Harvard University study found that the blue light from tablets and phones can disrupt normal sleep patterns. Go old-school and put your phone outside the bedroom and get an alarm clock. This stops the temptation of late-night texts and Facebook updates.
4. Censor your night-time TV
Your brain can’t tell the difference between a real threat to survival and your terror at the latest Paranormal Activity installment. As Dr Shawn Talbot explains in the Cortisol Connection: Why Stress Makes You Fat and Sick: “Our brains are so well-developed that our bodies have learned to respond to psychological stress with the same hormonal cascade that happens with a physical stressor.
This means that just by thinking about a stressful event, even if that event is unlikely to occur, our endocrine system gets in uproar.” Stick with comedy shows like Broad City or The Office because boffins in Lorna Linda University, California, have found that laughter can lower cortisol and increase growth hormone. You’ll wake up less stressed and looking younger to boot.
5. Increase your intake of vitamin C
According to Phil Richards in Science of Fat Loss: “When you are faced with a stressful situation, your vitamin C is rapidly used up in the production of cortisol. In two separate studies about vitamin C supplementation (1,000-1,500mg per day for one week), ultra-marathon runners showed a 30% lower cortisol level in their blood when compared to marathon runners receiving a placebo.”
A few pre-bed bites of vitamin C-rich foods, like strawberries, kiwi fruit and pineapple, will lower your cortisol levels and make you feel more relaxed so you can get to sleep faster.
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