The amount of sleep you need daily varies from person to person and the eight hour averages you may have heard of still ring true for many. However, the National Sleep Foundation recently set new age categories and recommended new sleep timings for various ages after collaboration with a team of experts. The range of sleep that the foundation recommends a 26-64 year old adult needs is now between seven and nine hours.

Other research indicates that women may even need slightly more sleep, and that eight hours should only be considered the minimum amount of sleep needed each night to fully refresh and repair our bodies.

Unfortunately, our personal habits and routines are likely robbing us of not only the clocked in sleep hours, but quality sleep as well. Here are a few tips for not only boosting your regenerative sleep time, but making it a deeper and more refreshing sleep as well.

Eat a balanced diet

Like all other healthful things, eating a varied and balanced diet will help keep your body systems operating smoothly. Healthy, fresh, and seasonal foods also give your body the building blocks it needs to repair itself each night.

If you are not feeding your body systems and cells the calories, vitamins, proteins, and minerals they need to function optimally, you may find yourself waking up even more tired than you were when you fell asleep. Our food choices can dramatically impact our energy and mood so it’s important to make healthy choices.

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Work on correcting your diet to include proper hydration as well as a healthy balance of all the fruits, nuts, legumes, grains, and vegetables you need to maintain a healthy active lifestyle. The sooner you make healthy changes to your diet, the sooner you will see improvements in your sleep as well.

Write out your worries

Stressing out about all the things you have to do is unnessicarily worrisome and can rob you of your precious needed rest. One thing that works for many of us with anxiety, worry, and sleeplessness, is to keep a pen and paper next to the bed.

Whenever we have a head full of thoughts that are raddling around and keeping us awake at night, it helps to make a list of the thoughts for reading in the morning. Get all the nagging and niggling thoughts out on paper and then rest easy knowing you can start fussing over them again and read them in the morning.

You may also want to look into the bullet journaling trend as well.

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Bullet journaling is another excellent way to both release pent-up stressors and keep track of your daily activities before heading off to sleep.

Go camping

Spending time outdoors and in green nature spaces gives countless benefits. These can include a reduction of ADHD symptoms and a reduction in exposure to harmful indoor chemicals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that currently most Americans spend about 90 percent of their life indoors or in their cars. Getting out into nature counteracts the effects of all that cooped up exposure.

Another benefit of getting out into nature for extended periods, and not just for a few hours or a weekend, is that it can help restore our natural circadian rhythms. The repeated exposure to natural daylight and nightfall retrains our bodies to get back into harmony with the natural rhythms of alertness and rest.

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To make the journey to your favorite campsite even more fun, you can also consider taking a long a recreational vehicle or travel trailer on your journey. This growing vacation trend takes the comfort of a covered home along with the mobility of a travel vehicle.

If you are not in a financial position to buy your own travel trailer, you can also experiment alongside thousands of others who are trying out the new trend of renting from your peers in order to get the full experience on a limited budget. Newer platforms like Outdoorsy and RV Share offer peer-to-peer lending platforms and options for rentals all over the U.S.A.

Engage in meditative exercise

Exercise is another activity that has numerous benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. Regular exercise depletes your energy stores while also giving your body a reason to rest and repair. It can also help promote more peaceful reparative sleep.

Consider practicing relaxing exercises like deep stretching or yoga at the end of the day and a few hours before sleep to help you wind down and prepare. Save your energizing and aggressive cardio classes for the early morning and your stretching and meditation for the late afternoon and evening. Getting into a balanced exercise routine will help prime your body for deeper, more relaxing sleep.

Use natural sleep aids

If all else fails, take a natural, gentle sleep aid to help you rest.

Consuming herbal supplements like Chamomile, Catnip, Kava Kava, and Valerian Root (either in tea or capsule form), are all known to promote deeper, more restful sleep. They also achieve this without the “hangover” feeling in the morning that accompanies most commercial sleep aids.

You may also want to try a cup of tart cherry juice. This juice contains tryptophan, the same amino acid in our Thanksgiving turkey dinners that converts into serotonin and then melatonin – which puts us to sleep.

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