Sometimes the most productive thing one can do is to sleep.
Tired of being tired? You want your energy back? This kind of stuff probably sounds familiar, whether you’re moving in slow-motion or frazzled from juggling work, family, and friends. Feeling tired robs you of productivity and pleasure.
So arm yourself for the holidays and beyond with these eight tools that will help you have an amazing sack time, the kind that will boost your energy levels and slow the aging process. And in no time flat, you’ll be catching your second wind.
Tool #1: THE MATTRESS
We often seem to be remarkably unaware that our mattress may be undermining our attempts to get a good night’s sleep. And although we agree that a good mattress is important for sound sleep, good health and to prevent back problems, we still keep our mattress until it’s well past its prime and disrupts sleep.
Survey findings also indicate that people recognize on a theoretical level the crucial role their mattress plays in their sleep and health. But on a practical level, when it comes to their own sleep and health, they usually overlook the condition of the mattress they sleep on every night.
So, maybe what’s really keeping you up nights is as plain as the tired old mattress on which you’re trying to sleep. Spend some money on a new one.
Tool #2: THE SHEETS
Some quality sheets can be amazing sleep aids. They will make you feel like a monarch and soothe you into sleep, and keep you comfortable all night long. Sure, you’ll have to pay a little more up front for them, but considering the percentage of your life that you spend sleeping (or should spend sleeping), it’s a small price to pay!
Over the course of an evening, you can release close to a half gallon of sweat and oils, and natural fiber sheets breathe, absorb, and wick the moisture off of you. Synthetic fabrics don’t breathe and encase you in your own perspiration. So, make your bed with some quality sheets.
Tool #3: THE PILLOW
It is a very comforting feeling to have just the right pillow to rest an achy, tired body on. For a sound, safe sleep, you need a pillow that will keep your neck aligned with your spine. And the more neutral your neck’s position, the wider the nerve passageways running through it will open. The results: a reduced risk of neck pain, and more restful sleep. So choose the right pillow.
Tool #4: THE BLANKET
Do you remember the best sleep of your life? I guess not, since it probably was when you were only hours old. And the reason infants are born to sleep is because they’re swaddled with blankets, which gives them the secure sensation of being in utero.
So, go shopping for a new cocoon. Using a comforter will give you that feeling again. Crawl under a variety of fabrics and discover which comforter is king.
Tool #5: THE SHOWER
Another trick to remember is: Hit the shower! Taking a hot bath or shower before you go to bed has long been thought to provide deeper, more restful sleep. When body temperature is raised in the late evening, it will fall at bedtime, facilitating your sleep.
Also new studies with animals show that cooling the brain results in a deep REM sleep. So cold showers are certainly worth a try.
Tool #6: THE FAN
Blocking out noise will help you fall asleep much faster and will also help you reach much better stage of sleep. The most popular way of doing so is to use ear plugs, but this is not effective, because any sounds made by our own body (even breathing), are amplified. Paradoxically, the best way to block out noise is to produce your own white noise.
By having a consistent sound that is not too loud, other, more disturbing sounds are blocked out. And since noise is probably the most common disruptor of sleep, you’re bound to have a positive effect from this. A fan is the most frequent choice.
Tool #7: THE SUPPLEMENT
Despite its reputation, melatonin isn’t nature’s knockout drug, it’s mostly effective only in treating sleep loss related to your circadian clock. So if you’re lagging from a transatlantic flight, a small dose of melatonin (3 milligrams) will help you.
But, if you want a better and longer night’s sleep, you might have to swallow something else. A study in the European Journal of Medical research found that valerian is comparable to Oxazepam, a medication used to treat insomnia. The root contains valerenic acid and vlepotriates, two chemicals that have powerful sedative properties.
Tool #8: THE SLEEPING PILL
Over-the-counter products will change your sleep architecture. In other words, OTC sleep medications shorten the time you’re in the deep stages of sleep, leaving you exhausted in the morning. And the effects can last long after the alarm goes off, making your head feel fuzzy.
So speak to your doctor about a pharmaceutical fix only after you’ve tried everything else and your sleep is still subpar.
Remember that by improving your sleep you will have a dramatic impact on your body composition, performance and health. So Sleep Well!