Updated: Apr 6
In addition to dietary changes and supplements, there are four basic lifestyle changes we should integrate, as well.
Improved Sleep Patterns
Each of these has been scientifically proved to improve mood and all brain functions.
IMPROVED SLEEP PATTERNS
There are usually three types of sleepers:
Those who can sleep - if this is you, great! Just make sure you're getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep. For me I need at least 8.
Those who snore or have sleep apnea - if this is you, get tested and treated as soon as possible. Ask your doctor to order and overnight sleep study. These can be done at home or in a sleep lab.
Those who have trouble sleeping (either getting to sleep or staying asleep) - if this is you, practice "good sleep hygiene."
GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE
1. Get into a routine
Get regular exposure to daylight for at least 20 minutes a day preferably first thing in the morning. The light from the sun enter our eyes and triggers our brain to release specific chemical and hormones that are vital to healthy sleep, mood, and aging.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Exercise for 30 minutes before dinnertime.
Don't exercise vigorously after dinner (an evening walk is fine).
No stimulating activities for 2 hours before bed (internet, answering emails, etc.)
Eat no later than 3 hours before bed.
2. Avoid Sleep Disturbing Substances
Sedatives (these are used to treat insomnia, but ultimately lead to dependence and disruption of normal sleep rhythms)
Stimulants (like Ritalin)
Cold medication (pseudephedrine, phenylephrine)
Steroids (like prednisone)
Headache medication containing caffeine (like Excedrin)
3. Create a Sleepy Environment
Use the bed for sleep and sex only.
Keep your bedroom dark or use eyeshades.
Block out noise with ear plugs or a sound masking system.
Make the room a comfortable temperature for sleep - not too hot and not too cold.
Create an aesthetic environment helpful for sleeping by using serene and restful colors and eliminate clutter and distraction.
4. Calm and Clear your Mind
Journaling - Write your worries down. One hour before bed, write down the things that are causing you anxiety and make plans for what you might do the next day to reduce your worry. It will free up your mind and energy to move into deep and restful sleep.
Download some guided imagery or relaxation audios to help you get to sleep.
5. Relax your Body
Take a relaxing bath - Raising your body temperature before bed helps to induce sleep. A hot bath relaxes your muscles and reduces tension physically and psychically. If you do an Epsom Salt bath, you also have the added benefits of magnesium absorbed through the skin, the alkaline balancing effects of the baking soda, and the cortisol-lowering effects of lavender, all of which help with sleep.
Get a massage, stretch, or do a ten-minute yoga routine before bed.
Use a hot water bottle or heating pad on your solar plexus (or snuggle next to a warm body). Warming your middle raises your core temperature. This helps trigger the proper chemistry for sleep.
6. Nutrients and Herbs for Sleep
Take an extra 200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycerinate before bed in addition to what is on the basic supplement program. This relaxes the nervous system and muscles.
Try 1 to 2 mg of melatonin thirty minutes before bedtime.
Next up: Brain Exercises