Show your heart some love tonight – put it to bed
If your favorite saying is “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” pay attention. The health of your heart – and your long life – depends on it. Sleep boosts memory and mood, helps keep your weight in check, fortifies your immune system, reduces inflammation and keeps your blood vessels, heart and other organs lean and healthy.
Sleep sounds pretty powerful, right? But how does it work?
During sleep, you’re body works hard to repair damaged tissues, manufacture life-sustaining hormones and catalog memories from the previous day. Skip sleep and you’re ability to handle stress (physical, mental and emotional) and learn new skills is severely diminished. People who sleep less than 6 hours a night don’t spend enough time in the deepest stages of sleep and are at higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than those who clock at least 7 hours. Sleep deprivation is a costly habit.
Instead of thinking of sleep as an 8-hour sentence in a void of nothingness, use it as the path to a longer, heart-healthier life.
10 ways to love your heart – better
Being proactive about your heart health can feel like a full time job. Making healthy food choices. hitting the gym regularly, eschewing cigarettes and alcoholic drinks is time-consuming – and sometimes stressful. What if looking after your heart began with simply getting a good night’s sleep?
Getting the sleep your body needs can make your existing healthy lifestyle choices even more effective, according to research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. And if you’re interested in more heart healthy ideas, keep reading.
1. Laugh out loud. “The focus on the benefits of laughter really began with Norman Cousin’s memoir, Anatomy of an Illness. Cousins, who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful spine condition, found that a diet of comedies, like Marx Brothers films and episodes of Candid Camera, helped him feel better. He said that ten minutes of laughter allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep, excerpted from WebMD.com.
2. Slow down. Be present. Breathe.
3. Sniff your way to sleep. Lavender, chamomile, jasmine and vanilla can soothe your senses and pave the way to a restful night. Add a little aromatherapy to your bedtime routine and sniff your way to sleep.
4. Get a massage. “Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension,” according to the mayoclinic.com. “Despite its benefits, massage isn’t meant as a replacement for regular medical care. Let your doctor know you’re trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.”
5. Meditate. It’s no secret that meditation can help us sleep better but there are some specific meditative exercises that can help us nod off when our minds are in overdrive. Read more at huffingtonpost.com.
6. Exercise. If you expect to sleep at night, you have to do something during the day to physically tire your body. Walk, hike, run or join a yoga class.
7. Visit a friend. Take time to enjoy a friend and make each other happy for a little while. Happy people sleep better.
8. Drink tea. Chamomile tea and green tea are safe, natural sleep aids. Green tea contains theanine, which helps promote sleep. Just be sure you get a decaf green tea if drinking it at bedtime. Read more at realsimple.com.
9. Set an electronic curfew. Electronics emit a cool, bright light similar to a sunrise – not the deep, warm colors of sunset. While cool light helps us see our screens better, it also sends a wake-up call to our brains. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex and leave your smart phone, tablet, laptop and TV in another room.
10. Snack smart. The best snacks to have before bedtime are those that are low in calories but also contain the amino acid tryptophan, which helps the body create niacin and serotonin, the calming feel-good hormone. A warm glass of milk, just like Mom used to say, might be the best bedtime snack.
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- TED Talks – Sleeping with science
- How clean (healthy) is your bedroom?
- 10 healthy breakfast recipes under 400 calories