5 ways to sleep better

How many hours of sleep did you get last night? If you’re like most Americans, you’re not catching enough zzzz’s, which can take a toll on your health. What’s more, recent studies also show being sleep deprived can affect your ability to lose weight and keep it off. As you’re following the South Beach Diet, there’s no doubt that you’re already paying close attention to eating healthy, but making certain you clock in enough sleep each night should also be part of your routine. Getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night will not only help you stick to your healthy eating plan, but you’ll also combat stress-related weight gain. If counting sheep isn’t working for you, try these five tips to help you sleep better soon:

1. Create a regular sleep routine. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning, even on the weekends. Some people find that setting a bedtime alarm as well as a morning alarm is a good reminder of when it’s time to go to sleep. You’ll find that once your body adjusts to a regular routine, you’ll start to wake up refreshed.

2. Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex only. Avoid stressful, sleep-depriving activities, such as watching TV news or scary movies, (or paying bills!). Some people find that a hot bath or soothing music before bedtime helps. If insomnia does strike, leave the bed and walk around for a while.

3. Don’t go to bed hungry. Enjoy a high-protein snack, such as reduced-fat cheese, a slice of deli turkey, or reduced-fat yogurt and a few nuts before going to bed.

4. Avoid caffeinated beverages or other foods containing caffeine after about noon, and limit alcohol in the evening. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 24 hours, and while alcohol may make it easier to fall asleep initially, it can cause nighttime awakenings later.

5. Refrain from exercise three hours before bedtime. Regular exercise is encouraged during the day because it can give you more energy and help you sleep better at night, but it also releases the hormone epinephrine, which can make you more alert. That’s why it’s best to exercise earlier rather than later if you suffer from insomnia.

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