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How To Get Better Sleep While Spending Less Time In Bed

There are two gifts I want to give you right now: more time and better sleep. To do this I will need your complete attention and an open mind. It’s really not that hard but it does require a little self discipline, some patience and a willingness to make a few changes in your life.

Many people believe that the more time you spend sleeping, the more rested your body becomes. Well, this is often not the case. Our body sleeps in multiple cycles throughout the night, each one essential and each one very easily interrupted. Every time you find yourself tossing and turning, waking up to go to the bathroom or just being woken up, you are interrupting one of these sleep cycles and detracting from their effectiveness. So the key is not MORE sleep but BETTER sleep.

There’s no doubt that you need a certain amount of sleep every night to be healthy. 3 hours of even the best sleep would not be enough for any human being. But what if I were to tell you that you could feel more rested than you ever have before and, here’s the kicker, knock 30 minutes to an hour off of the time you spend ‘trying to sleep’. It’s one of those ‘best of both world’ scenarios but, as I stated before, it will require you to take action and make the changes necessary to obtain this precious gift.

So let’s get to it. Here are the elements you will have to consider:

  1. Diet
    Eating a well balanced, healthy diet will not only help you live longer but it will help you feel better throughout the day. You should eat a good balance of complex carbs, meat and vegetable protein (of course no meat if you are a vegetarian) and fruits and vegetables. Try to eat light meals with small snacks in between. Adjust according to your activity level but try to keep it on the lighter side if possible.

The 3 meals a day idea is outdated. Too much time between meals allows your blood sugar to drop too low and leaves you hungry and craving simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour. When you finally eat the meal, you will end up eating too much. Depending on when you eat dinner and when you go to sleep you may benefit from a light snack about 1 to 1 and a half hours before bed. They should be foods with a balance of carbs, fat and protein. Some examples are an apple with peanut butter, celery with peanut butter or light yogurt (light on sugar as well as fat) with a little granola. Try this if you think your blood sugar might be crashing in the middle of the night.

If you eat a bunch of sugar, your blood sugar will spike and you will have a quick burst of energy; this is short lived. Anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours your blood sugar starts to quickly drop and you will feel tired. You may even start to feel irritable and/or depressed (This is why maintaining a consistent blood sugar level is crucial for a positive outlook). This is called a crash and it is something that often happens to people in the middle of the night. Do you ever wake up in a hot sweat. Or do you ever wake up at an odd hour and feel wide awake. Chances are this is the result of you blood sugar crashing.

I used to ‘need’ 8 hours of sleep each day. Even then I felt tired during the day. After I started doing the things listed here I was unable to sleep for more than about 7 hours a night. Yet I would have much more energy and feel better than ever. What I determined was that those 8 hours were not 8 SOLID HOURS of sleep. Whereas the 7 hours I’m getting now are a FULL 7 hours of sleep. THIS IS THE KEY!

I hope you really read through these steps and gave them some thought. It’s a lot to take in and may require a lot of changes. If the end result is a healthier, happier, more productive ‘you’ then it will be well worth it.

Written on 8/25/2008 by Eric Hamm, a technology consultant with a passion for helping others improve their lives through his blog Motivate Thyself. Republished 2/2/2010. Photo Credit: Betsssssy
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