The good news is that there are a few simple habits you can adopt to improve both the quality and the time you spend sleeping...and they are super simple!
1. Eat Some Carbs At Night
Carbs activate certain chemicals, melatonin and serotonin, in the brain which are associated with increased relaxation and improved sleep. Ever sleepy after and higher carbohydrate meal?
For the best results consume healthy carbs such as yams, sweet potatoes, white rice, or fruit instead of sugary foods like cookies, ice cream, cake, etc. For even better results consume high quality protein with your carbs. Foods like grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, and free-range chicken are excellent options.
2. Nix The Nightcap
It is been shown that alcohol may assist in getting higher quality sleep during the first half of the cycle, falling asleep and improving a deep sleep, but the second half is disrupted, REM and the deepest sleep stages (the most important).
This means that although a nightcap may help you drift off the quality of your total nights sleep suffers. If you feel the need for a drink keep it to a minimum.
3. Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an important micronutrient when it comes to regulating your hormonal processes. Hormones control how your body operates, including sleep, and having the proper balance and function is extremely important if you want to count lots of sheep at night.
Many studies have shown that individuals who had optimal blood levels of vitamin D, 60-80 ng/ml, had huge improvements in sleep quality. Get out in the sun or take a high quality vitamin D supplement (make sure it is vitamin D3 not D2).
4. Maximize Your Magnesium
Magnesium calms the nervous system, can relax the brain, and help reduce your stress levels. If you are one of those individuals who cannot seem to "turn off" at night, perhaps a a magnesium deficiency is an underlying cause.
Some foods high in magnesium are green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and oatmeal. You can also take a magnesium supplement but as always...make sure it is high quality.
5. Cut The Caffeine (in the afternoon)
The average half life for caffeine in most individuals is 5 hours. Therefore it takes approximately 10 hours for caffeine to be completely eliminated from your system. A cup of joe at 3 pm means that half the caffeine from that coffee is still racing through your body at 8pm and ain't leaving until 1 am.
Enjoy your coffee...it's good for ya. Just skip it after lunch.
Sleep tight and live your best life!