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Insomnia Cookies: 25 Tips to Better Sleep

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As a Weight Loss Coach and a 50 pound big-time-loser, I fully understand that sleep plays a crucial role in our obtaining and maintaining our healthy weight and on our general well-being, so I'd like to share some vital information with you now as well as 25 bite-sized and delicious tips to better sleep!

A recent study conducted by the Harvard Women's Health Watch reports that sleep difficulties visit 75% of us at least a few nights per week. A short-lived bout of insomnia is nothing to worry about. However, the bigger concern is for those who suffer from chronic sleep loss, because they are likely to be affected in numerous areas:

1. Sleep helps the brain commit new information into memory; therefore lack of sleep can impair learning and memory.

2. Chronic sleep deprivation affects the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and alters the levels of hormones that affect our appetite: leptin (an appetite regulating hormone), and higher levels of ghrelin (a hormone produced by the stomach that sends the 'I'm hungry, feel me' signal to the brain.) (leptin and ghrelin)

3. Those who are sleep deprived are more likely to be irritable, cranky, impatient, and are all in all moodier than those who sleep!

4. Sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone level and irregular heartbeats.

Now that we know how important it is to get the proper amount of sleep, here 25 tips that can help you to get a good night's rest!

25 Bite-Sized and Delicious Tips to Better Sleep
from the Our Lady of Weight Loss Snooze Factory

1. Relieve Stress Daily. People who are stressed-out are more likely to suffer from insomnia. It's important to explore various types of exercise, meditation, and/ or yoga so that you find the one that best helps you to relax. Have fun exploring.

2. Exercise. Follow a consistent exercise (or movement) program. It will increase your energy levels during the day, improve your mood and help to regulate your sleeping patterns at night. Remember - even 10 minutes here and there throughout the day adds up to a restful night's sleep.

3. Exercise in the morning or afternoon. For many, working out within 3 or 4 hours of sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.

4. Light snacks. Eating a heavy meal too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep. Instead, if you are hungry, have a light snack but avoid protein-rich and caffeine containing foods and beverages.

5. Stop eating all together at least 3 hours before sleep. This will prevent heartburn, indigestion and energy boosts from the food. A good weight loss rule anyway. You've got to stop at some point, no?

6. Natural Root. Valerian root and Melatonin seem to be the most effective supplemental sleep aids. Always discuss dosage, risk and effectiveness with your doctor before taking.

7. Aromatherapy. Lavender and chamomile scents can be soothing and relaxing. Perhaps in spray form, or scented candle. Also, vanilla 'kills' appetite.

8. Eat at regular intervals during the day. This will keep your blood sugar levels even, thus keeping you alert all day and ready to sleep at night. And bonus, it will keep your 'hunger' in check, so that you don't go off the deep end, into that vat of chocolate that's calling your name!

9. Write it out. Before bed write down all your thoughts in a journal without judgment. Stream of consciousness. Let it rip and roll. It will help clear your mind, as you can close the book on the day. It works!

10. Turn off the lights. It can be difficult to sleep with the lights on. You might even want to wear a sleep mask (I have a leopard one!). Be sure to close the blinds, shades, drapes!

11. Sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. Your body will get into its automatic rhythm.

12. Put the clock where you cannot see it. Clock watching can create anxiety.

13. For a light late night snack, try dairy products. Milk contains the sleep inducing amino acid, tryptophan. (Go organic, please! So that the milk is coming from a healthy cow ... Eat Healthy: Be Political!)

14. Avoid tobacco. Tobacco products contain nicotine, a stimulant. You shouldn't be smoking anyway (sorry, but for goodness sake!).

15. Don't oversleep. Too much of a good thing can actually make you more tired.

16. Think positive. People who focus on the positive tend to sleep better and experience better health in general. Remember: thoughts are like the clouds; they float in and out - you don't have to attach to them!

17. Do not hit the snooze button. Simply get up. Get up! GET UP!

18. Plan for a healthy 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Set your mind as you climb into your comfy bed.

19. Nap wisely. No more than 20 minutes. But do nap if you can!

20. Limit caffeine during the day. Try for less than 1-2 cups of caffeinated beverages during the day.

21. Schedule some down time every day. Stretch, take a hot bath, read. Stare into space!

22. Add white noise and/or wear ear plugs. Most people can't fall asleep when things are too loud. Sometimes even the crickets are screaming.

23. Drink in moderation. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it will likely wake you in the middle of the night.

24. Rule out medications. If you are taking medication, ask your doctor about its side effects.

25. Check the thermostat. If it's too hot or too cold, it may be difficult to fall asleep. That's for sure!!!

Spread the word ... not the icing,
Janice
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Read more from Janice on her Beliefnet.com weight loss blog
or visit Our Lady of Weight Loss
and Janice Taylor Living!

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