sleep quality and exercise

Sleep Quality and Exercise: Top 3 Workouts That Will Improve Your Sleep

Working out regularly has so many positive health benefits. It can reduce stress, boost alertness during the day, and even improve your sleep quality.  Here are the top 3 workouts for better sleep according to the National Sleep Foundation:

Aerobic (or Cardio) Exercise

Activities that get your heart rate up, such as running, brisk walking, cycling, and swimming, have been shown to improve sleep and battle insomnia. Even small bouts, such as 10 minutes, may help, though the goal is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity) aerobic exercise each week.

Strength Training

Building muscle has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, and it can also help you fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently throughout the night.  So try doing exercises like shoulder presses, bicep curls, tricep dips, squats, lunges, calf raises, sit-ups, and push-ups that will make you stronger.


Yoga’s relaxing poses and stretches, as well as the calming breathing exercises that accompany them, may be especially helpful if stress is what’s keeping you from falling asleep. Those with insomnia who do yoga daily for eight weeks are likely to fall asleep faster and increase the amount of time that they spend sleeping.

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Sleep Quality and Exercise: Top 3 Workouts That Will Improve Your Sleep

healthy sleep habits

Healthy Sleep Habits: How to Sleep Better Every Night

Don’t let poor sleep ruin your mood and productivity!  Follow these 5 healthy sleep habits and wake up feeling energized:

1. Set aside time to wind-down and relax before actually crawling into bed. A hot shower or bath, a cup of (caffeine free) tea, or even watching an episode of your favorite TV show can help calm your mind and prepare you for sleep.

2. Simply put, clear out distractions in your bedroom. This includes television, lights, and even your cell phone. By not having these things within reach, you can more easily relax.

3. An empty stomach can be just as distracting as a completely full stomach when trying to catch some Zs. Make good food choices before going to bed. Avoid sugar, caffeine and large meals, and instead, try a bowl of granola or whole grain cereal or some crackers with cheese.

4.  A consistent bedtime and wake time encourages your body and mind to get into a rhythm. By sticking to a schedule, even on the weekends, you will have put yourself in the position for consistent sleep patterns that will help keep you feeling rested all day.

5. Make it a point to download everything that is on your mind before you go to bed. This can include talking through a situation weighing on you or making a list of things to do the following day. Doing this will help you avoid running through it all while you are trying to sleep so you can rejuvenate and relax.

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Healthy Sleep Habits: How to Sleep Better Every Night

ideal temperature for sleep

The Ideal Temperature for Sleep: Cool Nights Make for Good Sleep

What’s the ideal temperature for sleep? Some experts reveal that sleeping during the coolest part of the day is better for you.

Jerry Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California-Los Angeles, was lead researcher of a study that monitored the sleep patterns of three groups whose living conditions are similar to those of our evolutionary ancestors.

The individuals monitored in the study live in Tanzania, Namibia and Bolivia in natural environments with temperatures that follow a 24-hour cycle, Siegel said.

Most of us, with heated and air-conditioned cars, offices and homes, he said, don’t experience natural cycles of warm and cool.

“We are sort of divorced from the normal temperature cycle,” Siegel said.

This makes it even harder to study temperature, he added, compared with the hundreds of studies done on the effects that light has on a person’s sleep.

Siegel said sunrise is actually the coolest part of the day. Once the sun rises, temperatures typically rise before reaching a peak at some point. And as the sun sets, temperatures drop until the next sunrise.

“None of them – not even one of them – went to sleep at sunset,” Siegel said of the 94 people in the study.

In fact, on average, study participants went to bed a little over three hours past sunset. They also typically rose before sunrise.

This suggested to Siegel and his team that neither sunrise nor sunset is tightly synced to sleep. “What we know, under natural conditions, humans sleep at the coldest parts of the day,” he said.

Furthermore, their sleep was uninterrupted. And they also slept an additional hour during the winter.

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The Ideal Temperature for Sleep: Cool Nights Make for Good Sleep

sleep well

Eat Well, Sleep Well: 4 Best Foods for Quality Rest

Trouble sleeping? Add these foods to your diet to get enough shut-eye.  Sleep well!


Leg cramps or muscle spasms that strike in the middle of the night aren’t just annoying—the sudden pain may also cause your heart rate to go up and make it difficult to fall back asleep. Getting potassium regularly, like from bananas, can help prevent your muscles from seizing up. Even better, the fruit contains magnesium too, which helps potassium enter your muscle cells more easily.


Just another reason to love carbs: They help boost your levels of serotonin, a hormone that promotes feelings of calm and plays a role in the production of melatonin. Findings suggest that eating high-fiber, complex carbohydrates (like oats) could promote deeper, more restful sleep than low-fiber ones. Experts aren’t entirely sure why that is, but they’ve noticed that sugary carbs seem to cause more nighttime wake-ups.


It may not seem like it sometimes, but your body is trying to help you fall asleep. Every day your brain pumps out melatonin, a hormone that regulates your internal clock so you feel mellow and drowsy at night. Walnuts are a good source of melatonin, and could give your body the extra push it needs toward blissful slumber.

Cheddar Cheese

In order to produce the relaxation-boosting hormone serotonin, your brain needs the amino acid tryptophan. But since your body doesn’t produce tryptophan on its own, you have to get it through food, and cheese — the most divine food in existence, no? — happens to be a top source. Just keep your portions to an ounce, since cheese can be high in calories.

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Eat Well, Sleep Well: 4 Best Foods for Quality Rest

memory and learning

Boost Your Brain Power: Napping Enhances Memory and Learning

Researchers have discovered a new secret to improving memory and learning — naps. According to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science, taking naps (or getting a little sleep) while studying or otherwise trying to pick up something new can help you learn faster and better retain the information better. The researchers found it works best if brief periods of rest are worked into the workflow.

Boost Your Brain Power: Napping Enhances Memory and Learning

sleeping with anxiety

Sleeping with Anxiety – 6 Strategies to Achieve Better Sleep

It’s a frustrating routine: As soon as it’s time for bed, your mind starts racing. You begin to worry about all kinds of things and it’s keeping you from falling asleep.

At times, it’s hard to tell whether you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re anxious, or you’re anxious because you can’t sleep. The answer may be both. It’s a two-way street: Stress and anxiety can cause sleeping problems, or worsen existing ones. But lack of sleep can also cause an anxiety disorder.

To prevent sleeping with anxiety, here are some simple practices recommended by the National Sleep Foundation that may help you relax your body and mind.

1. Try meditation

Learning to quiet your mind can be a helpful skill, both for navigating stressful daytime periods, and for falling asleep at night. If you’ve never tried it, start with as little as a couple minutes of sitting quietly and focusing on your inhale and exhale. You can also explore apps that will help guide you.

2. Add exercise to your day

Regular exercisers fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. In fact, even a single moderate-intensity workout, like a brisk walk, can improve sleep among people with chronic insomnia.

3. Take time to wind down

A healthy bedtime routine allows your body and mind time to slow down before lights out. Take at least half an hour to play quiet music, take a bath, or read a book.

4. Steer clear of stressful activities before bed

Leave the bill paying for earlier in the day, stay away from heated social media exchanges, and skip the evening news.

5. Put your to-dos on paper

Instead of letting your brain swirl with all the things that you don’t want to forget to take care of, write them down so your brain can relax and let go.

6. Tense and relax

Try this relaxation exercise in bed: Squeeze your toes for several seconds, and then relax

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Sleeping with Anxiety – 6 Strategies to Achieve Better Sleep

sleep chronotypes

4 Sleep Chronotypes – What’s Your Sleep “Spirit Animal”?

You’ve heard people call themselves early birds or night owls, but a new theory from a leading sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus claims there may be 4 sleep chronotypes.

In his new book, “The Power of When” he explains the 4 types of sleep schedules: Lions, bears, wolves and dolphins.

Lions are early risers. They get up and are ready to go right away. But, they’re the ones struggling to stay awake in the evening.

More than half of us are bears, getting up around 7:30 a.m. and going all day. They’re most energetic mid-day.

Wolves thrive in the late-evening and often really don’t like getting up early.

Dolphins are the insomniacs. They love the late nights and often have trouble sleeping.

Which sleeper are you? Take the quiz to find out:

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4 Sleep Chronotypes – What’s Your  Sleep “Spirit Animal”?

nighttime light exposure

What are the Risks? The 5 Health Dangers of Nighttime Light Exposure

Nighttime light exposure suppresses the hormone melatonin, which plays an important role in regulating sleep and circadian rhythms. Light exposure during nighttime hours causes shifts to the timing of circadian rhythms, initiating a reset of the body’s biological clock that can contribute to a wide range of health problems.

Let’s take a look at what we know about five common health conditions that science has linked to nighttime light exposure.


Nighttime exposure to artificial light has been linked to increased incidence of obesity. A 2012 study of older adults in Japan found a significant association between higher body weight and the intensity of exposure to artificial light at night. Significantly, this association existed independent of melatonin levels, indicating that there may another mechanism by which light contributes to increased body weight. Higher levels of nighttime light exposure were also linked to larger waist circumference and a greater likelihood of obesity.


Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects more than 29 million Americans. A compelling body of scientific research indicates that nighttime light exposure disrupts metabolic function, at least in part as a result of disruption to circadian rhythms. Research shows connections between diabetes and circadian rhythm disruption, as well as between diabetes and nighttime light exposure.

High blood pressure

More than 70 million American adults—roughly 29 percent of the population—suffer from high blood pressure. Treatment rates have climbed, but millions of Americans still aren’t receiving treatment for their high blood pressure. Recent research links nighttime light exposure to high blood pressure, likely through light’s suppressive effects on melatonin.

Blood pressure fluctuates over the course of a 24-hour day and night, and like so many other of the body’s processes, is regulated by circadian rhythms. Blood pressure is typically higher in the daytime and lower throughout the night. Melatonin, released by the body during evening hours, has a lowering effect on blood pressure.

Breast cancer

A growing body of research indicates that nighttime light exposure may be linked to several forms of cancer, including breast cancer. An international study that included 164 countries found that breast cancer risk was elevated by 30-50 percent in nations with the highest levels of nighttime light exposure, compared to nations with the lowest.

Research also indicates that nighttime exposure to bright light may accelerate breast cancer tumor growth, and that even dim light exposure at night may lead some types of breast cancer tumors to become resistant to some forms of treatment.

Cardiovascular disease

Light exposure at night is linked to several conditions that in turn contribute to cardiovascular problems. Evening light exposure disrupts and minimizes sleep. Both insufficient sleep and poor quality sleep are linked to increased risks for cardiovascular disease. Changes to melatonin levels—which occur as a result of nighttime light exposure—may contribute to heart disease, as well as to higher cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Obesity, which is linked to evening light exposure and to circadian rhythm disruption, is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Evening light exposure also is linked to metabolic dysfunction. Metabolic disorders such as metabolic syndrome increase risks for cardiovascular disease.

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What are the Risks? The 5 Health Dangers of Nighttime Light Exposure

better sleep tips

Better Sleep Tips – 3 Bedtime Hacks Using Your iPhone

Smartphones are notorious for destroying our sleep cycles, but on the contrary, they can actually improve them. Especially the iPhone, which has several neat features you can use to get a good night’s sleep and wake up better in the morning. Here are 3 better sleep tips you can do with your iPhone:

Use the built-in Bedtime feature

Apple addressed the issue of sleep head on with its latest iOS 10 software update. Now, updated iPhones have a new feature called Bedtime, which allows users to monitor their sleeping habits and build a consistent sleeping regiment. After configuring a “bedtime alarm” and “wake up alarm” for your varying schedule, the iPhone will remind you when it’s time for bed, depending on the time and day you set.

Use Apple Music to play nature sounds to fall asleep

Some people can’t fall asleep without a little background noise. Actual music can be a little too stimulating, however, so try drifting off to the sounds of Mother Earth, instead. A search in Apple Music for “Nature Sounds for Sleep and Relaxation” will bring up a host of options ranging from “tranquil ocean waves” to “calming thunderstorms.” Set the track of your preference on repeat, and let nature handle the rest — pun completely intended.

Disable the snooze button

Prevent yourself from falling into to this bad habit by disabling the snooze button on your iPhone. It’s really easy to do: Simply hit the “edit” button on your alarm(s) and tap the switch on the “snooze” option. Now it’s going to be a lot harder to turn off that alarm in the morning. Enjoy the productive morning.

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Better Sleep Tips – 3 Bedtime Hacks Using Your iPhone

daylight savings time sleep

Coping with Change – Daylight Savings Time Sleep Tips

On the morning of November 6th, the clocks will fall back to mark the official end of daylight savings time (DST).  While this one hour time shift can be disruptive to sleep patterns, it can also offer a great opportunity to acknowledge and improve sleep patterns.

Even with the one hour gain, keep the same bedtime to avoid feeling sleep deprived on Monday. Practicing proper sleep habits is key to getting a good night’s sleep not just with the time change, but throughout the year.

Dr. Samer El Zarif, a physician with Orange Regional Medical Group’s Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, offers the following daylight savings time sleep tips:

Before getting into bed

  • Establish a regular routine for bedtime.
  • Create a positive sleep environment, with avoidance of electronics and light, and noise in the bedroom.
  • Jot down a to-do list for the next day and put it aside. You will feel more organized and can avoid racing thoughts that may disrupt sleep
  • Relax before getting into bed.
  • Take a hot shower then get into a cool bed
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, caffeine for at least a few hours before bedtime.
  • Do not go to bed unless you are sleepy.

While in bed

  • Turn your clock around (or cover it) and use your alarm if needed. If you can’t fall asleep in 20 minutes (based on your internal sense of time), get out of bed and do something relaxing or boring (reading, listening to music, etc). Return to bed only when sleepy.
  • Use your bed only for sleep.

In the morning and during the daytime

  • Wake up at the same time every morning, even on weekends.
  • Avoid naps during the day.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and food in the evening
  • Exercise regularly but not within 4 hours of bedtime.

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Coping with Change – Daylight Savings Time Sleep Tips