10 Tips to Get the Best Sleep Ever

Guest Post By Sarah Stevenson 

When is the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Most of us have a million things to do every day and to get them all done, something’s got to give. So why not skimp on downtime? After all, there’s nothing wrong with shortening your snooze when you’re on the go, right?

Think again. According to a new study in the journal Science Transitional Medicine, adults who limit sleep to roughly 5 hours a night greatly increase their risk of obesity and diabetes(1). And for those of you trying the shredfat inc personal training program, even more downtime might be in order. A recent study from Stanford University’s Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory reported that athletes heighten their performance levels after a solid 10 hours in bed(2).

But before you stop reading and head for the sheets, keep in mind that 6 to 8 hours of good rest should be enough for most of us. Unfortunately, even if you’re sleeping enough, it’s likely, given the pace of modern society, that you’re not sleeping particularly well, so let’s take a look at your sleeping habits and conditions. With a few small changes, you could dramatically improve your quality of life.

1) Exercise.

Exercise won’t just help you get fit, it’ll help you sleep better. When you exercise, you increase your internal body temperature. According to Professor Jim Horne, who runs the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, the post-workout cooling down process makes you sleepier, given that right before sleep, your body expels heat to help you shut down. Interestingly, exercising outside in the cold isn’t as beneficial because it’s a zero-sum gain, heat-wise(3)

2) Quiet the Noise.

If you live only a thin wall away from neighbors (or a partner who snores!), excess noise is keeping you from getting quality rest. A pair of $3 drug store earplugs can eliminate outside and inside noise and help you feel more rested in the morning.

3) Get Great Lighting.

According to Dr. Phyllis C. Zee, associate director at the Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology, Northwestern University School of Medicine, light has an enormous effect on circadian rhythms—your body’s daily physiological clock(4). Too much exposure to light before bed can keep your body from entering a restful state and may prevent you from remaining asleep for long enough. Keep lights dim at night and don’t sleep with the light on. You may even consider wearing an eye mask as one Chinese study found that earplugs and eye masks worn during sleep increases the levels of melatonin produced in the body(5). Or, you could invest in blackout curtains. These curtains are specifically designed to reduce noise by up to 40%, block out 99% of light, and help you save up to 25% on home heating and cooling costs.

4) Take a Bath.

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As is also the case with exercise, once you leave the bath your internal temperature cools down, giving your body the hint that it’s time to catch some ZZZs. Furthermore, hot water relieves tension and the pressure that gravity places on the joints and muscles.

5) Ban the Electronics.

You may love watching Netflix® in your boxers, but according to The National Sleep Foundation, electronics are a no-go in the bedroom. Just like overhead lighting, the glow of your iPad®, laptop, or the TV messes with your circadian rhythms. Your best bet is to teach your brain to associate your bed with sleep . . . and maybe sex, but that’s a topic for a different article.

6) Time Your Caffeine.

Caffeinated beverages can hinder sleep for up to 6 hours after you drink them(6). On the other hand, foods containing the amino acid tryptophan increase your serotonin levels and serve as a natural sedative(7). Foods high in tryptophan include red meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, soybeans, tuna, shellfish, and turkey. So gobble them up if you want to get totally “trypt” out.

7) Have a Drink.

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Try this ancient ayurvedic recipe: warm milk (raw milk, if not grass fed non-homogenized whole milk), a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of cardamom(8). Milk contains tryptophan, which, as stated earlier in this article, is a great sleep aid. This is why so many folk remedies include warm milk. Try it out, you will feel like a sleep bug snug in a rug.

8) Set a Bedtime.

Researchers from Minnesota’s University of St. Thomas conducted a study on college students with inconsistent weekend sleeping habits(9). Subjects who pulled all-nighters on Saturday or Sunday found it difficult to sleep the rest of the week. Your brain needs consistency. You create patterns of sleep just like you acquire all of your good and bad habits. In fact, a consistent bedtime can help you train your brain to be its own alarm clock.

9) Fall for Soft Rock.

Save Megadeth for getting ready in the morning and spin Mumford & Sons at night instead. The calmer music, the better. Researchers from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio, conducted a study on older individuals listening to soft, calm music before bed and found that it significantly improved their quality of sleep(10).

10) Use aromatherapy.

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Herbs like lavender, chamomile, bergamot, and sandalwood have been used for centuries to calm the central nervous system, bring on a sense of relaxation, and help to induce sleep(11). Place scented candles in your bedroom, ask your partner to massage you with lavender oil before bed, or take a warm bath with any of these herbs at night to put yourself in the mood for sleep.

Resources:

  1. American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2012, July 1). Sleep deprivation effect on the immune system mirrors physical stress. ScienceDaily.

  2. The Effects of Sleep Extension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players. Cheri D. Mah, Kenneth E. Mah, Eric J. Kezirian, William C. Dement Sleep. 2011 July 1; 34(7): 943–950

  3. Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University: http://www.lboro.ac.uk

  4. Phyllis C. Zee, Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders ACCP Sleep Med Brd Rev 2009 4:63-76 Lee IS, Lee GJ.

  5. Effects of earplugs and eye masks on nocturnal sleep, melatonin and cortisol in a simulated intensive care unit environment. Rong-fang Hu, Xiao-ying Jiang, Yi-ming Zeng, Xiao-yang Chen, You-hua Zhang, Critical Care. 2010 14:R66.

  6. Sleep homeostasis: a role for adenosine in humans? Landolt HP. Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Jun 1; 75(11): 2070-9. Epub 2008 Mar 4

  7. Simon N. Young, Marco Leyton. The role of serotonin in human mood and social interaction: Insight from altered tryptophan levels. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, Volume 71, Issue 4, April 2002, Pages 857–865

  8. Chopra, Ananda S. (2003). “Ayurveda”. In Selin, Helaine. Medicine Across Cultures: History and Practice of medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Pp. 75-83. ISBN 1-4020-1166-0

  9. Sleep Patterns and Predictors of Disturbed Sleep in a Large Population of College Students. Hannah G. Lund, Brian D. Reider, Annie B. Whiting, J. Roxanne Prichard Journal of Adolescent Health February 2010 (Vol. 46, Issue 2, Pages 124-132)

  10. Lai, H.-L. and Good, M. (2005), Music improves sleep quality in older adults. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 49: 234–244.

  11. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. Lewith GT, Godfrey AD, Prescott P. J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Aug; 11(4):631-7.

How to Use Shakeology in Your Daily Life

As a supplement meal: One of the best and most popular ways to use Shakeology is to prepare it as a healthy shake for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Shakeology formulas vary from 140-170 calories depending on the formula. Adding extra calorie dense ingredients like fruit, nut-butters, or milk gets you to a healthy caloric content that is both highly satisfying and nutritious.

Snack: Shakeology is an incredibly nutrient-rich snack, perfect for someone that’s doing an intense workout program like shredfat inc’s personal training program. Since Shakeology doesn’t have much fat, its nutrients are put to use very quickly by your body. This makes it an ideal pick-me-up snack when you’re on the go. You can either make yourself a ½ scoop serving of Shakeology or a full scoop if you’re really famished. The key to losing weight is to eat small meals throughout the day, so if you feel like you’re getting hungry Shakeology is a good, convenient option; a Shakeology snack will keep your metabolism revved and your body burning fat.

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Pre-Workout Supplement: If you’re doing an intense workout program, a good way to use Shakeology is as a pre-workout snack, taken about 1 hour prior to your warm-up. Your workout will help you get the most out of Shakeology, and Shakeology will help you during the latter part of your workout, especially if your glycogen stores have been slightly depleted.

Post-Workout Supplement: When it comes to a serious workout, many trainers recommend drinking Shakeology post-workout is because your body is in a state of depletion. Here are several reasons why Shakeology is a good post-workout supplement:

Calories: Many people make the mistake of eating too many calories afterward. The general range is 100 to 250 calories, post-workout. At 140 to 170 calories, Shakeology fills this requirement perfectly.

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Protein: Protein is critical after a tough workout because it works to repair your muscles. With 15 to 18 grams of quality protein in each serving, Shakeology works great as a muscle building tool.

Replenish Electrolytes: The magnesium, sodium, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in Shakeology will boost your electrolytes.

Natural Energy Boost: Next time the 3 PM slump rolls around, make Shakeology; it’s better for an energy boost than a lot of energy drinks! While something like Red Bull® might give you more up-front punch, Shakeology will give you sustained energy because it’s providing nutrients your body needs to get things done, and it has a low glycemic impact, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable.

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Late Night Sweet Cravings: Sometimes at the end of the day you crave something sweet; this happens to the best of us. Instead of grabbing something high in sugar and low in nutrition, whip yourself up some Shakeology with your favorite recipe. This Double Chocolate Recipe is sure to knock your chocolate craving out of the park: 1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology, 1 cup chocolate almond milk, 1 ½ cup ice. True, this isn’t the most opportune time to eat for weight loss – try to keep your larger meals earlier, so you have time to burn off the calories before bed; but drinking Shakeology is better than binging on cake or brownies!

Healthy Dessert: Finally, even the most dedicated dieter needs to let loose every now and then. There are plenty of creative dessert recipes you can make with Shakeology found right here on the blog, such as pies, peanut butter cups and easy chocolate mousse in the ‘Recipes’ category. The best part is all of the desserts have 70+ healthy ingredients in them. See, you can have your cake and eat it too!

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How Can Shakeology Improve Your Digestion?

Many people suffer from digestive symptoms and problems. Some of the main complaints that people have when it comes to digestive problems are bloating, gas, stomach pains, constipation, etc. For each of these symptoms and conditions there is usually an underlying cause as to why they are happening.

Changing your diet to one that’s filled with healthy ingredients rich in prebiotics and probiotics, as well as staying active, can often times be the solution to digestive imbalance. Many of our customers have told us that once they started drinking Shakeology and started getting active, their digestion problems have gotten better or disappeared all together.

“Ever since I started drinking Shakeology, I no longer binge on the bad stuff. Now my skins glows and her digestion is where it should be.”– Becky B.

Shakeology contains many ingredients that are beneficial to the digestive system such as prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes. Prebiotics and Probiotics, are natural components of certain plants. They help support the “friendly” bacteria in your digestive tract and they may also help with the absorption of minerals such as calcium. Digestive enzymes, from plant sources such as pineapples and papayas, help your body break down food into its individual components, making the nutrients easier to absorb. Cooking can destroy food’s natural digestive enzymes, so there’s a good chance that you don’t get enough of them in your diet.

Drinking a glass of Shakeology daily can help move things along, so to speak, because of the prebiotics, probiotics, whole food ingredients, fiber, and digestive enzymes. If you are seeking good health, the place to start is in your digestive tract. Healthy digestion is key to detoxify your body each day and helps prevent unhealthy diseases.

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Antioxidants…Why We Need ‘Um!

Antioxidants are surrounded by a lot of hype. They are touted as everything from disease fighters to memory protectors to the antidote to aging. So what are antioxidants? Why are they important? What is the best way to get them in your diet? 

Antioxidants help fight oxidation, a normal chemical process that takes place in the body every day. Oxidative stress and free radical damage to cells is harmful because it may initiate the early stages of cancer and heart disease. Eating foods rich in antioxidants help fight the oxidation and free radical damage plus, they also help you look and feel younger by helping to slow down the aging process and help to prevent cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases. Finally, an added bonus is that they also help to speed up the recovery from exercise which means more muscle and less fat on your body!

Health organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research recommend eating between five and nine servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables every day.

Shakeology meets this recommendation and more because it contains some of the most potent antioxidants on the planet: flavonoids and phytonutrients such as spinach, blue green algae, carrot powder, strawberry powder, and vitamins E and C. All of these help to prevent free radicals from oxidizing and destroying cells. In addition, the ingredients in our antioxidant blend such as pomegranate, acai berry, camu-camu, goji, and blueberry also have powerful antioxidant effects to support your immune system and help protect your body from normal inflammatory response.

So the bottom line is to choose your foods wisely to help prevent healthy-aging as well as cellular health from the stress of oxidation on your cells. Your cells need a variety of antioxidants to fight the destructive little molecules that wage war in the body daily and Shakeology, as well as a well-rounded diet of fruits and vegetables, can help do exactly that!

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