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A big part of living a healthy lifestyle is getting adequate rest.  Ideally, you want to doze off for at least 7 hours a day.  Unfortunately, 35 percent of adults aren’t getting enough shut eye and the consequences are more serious than you think.  A lack of sleep can lead to diabetes, stroke, depression and cardiovascular disease.  Studies have also shown that driving drowsy has almost the same effect on your body as driving drunk.  To put things into perspective, you’re considered to be drunk when your blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches 0.08%.  When you go 18 hours without sleeping, your body produces a BAC of 0.05%.  That number climbs to 0.10%, once you’ve been up for 24 hours.  If you find yourself struggling to get a good night’s rest, we have some tricks to help you doze off faster.

Put down your gadgets

Do you have a habit of bringing your phone or tablet into bed with you?  If so, stop now.  Your intention may be to kill time until you feel sleepy but staring at the screen actually keeps you awake.  Many electronic devices emit blue lights which prevents your body from producing the amount of melatonin needed to fall asleep.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to put down your gadgets at least an hour before bedtime.  If you must get your nightly fix, use an app like Night Shift, Twilight or f.lux on your device to reduce your exposure to blue light.

Drink this and sleep like a baby

The next time you find yourself tossing and turning, try drinking a glass of spiced milk.  The recipe only calls for three ingredients which are milk, nutmeg and honey.  Milk provides your body with the vitamin D needed to produce serotonin which regulates your sleep/wake cycles.  Taking a small amount of nutmeg is known to relax your muscles, calm your mind and reduce stress.  Meanwhile, honey contributes to the production of melatonin in the brain.  The measurements for this natural sleep elixir are:

  • 8 ounces of milk (any kind you prefer)
  • ¼ tsp of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp of honey

Simply warm up the milk then mix in the other two ingredients.  Pour it in a glass and enjoy.

Disclaimer:  Don’t go overboard with the nutmeg.  Ingesting large doses of the spice can lead to hallucinations, heart palpitations, vomiting and diarrhea.  Stay safe and don’t use more than suggested.

Find your best sleep temperature

When you crawl into bed at the end of the day, your body temperature drops slightly to initiate sleep.  Setting the thermostat between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit helps your body reach the ideal temperature faster.  Another way to speed up the process is to place a hot water bottle between your feet or wear socks.  Warming up your feet causes the blood vessels to dilate which in turn increases heat loss.

Practice your breathing

Have you ever tried the 4-7-8 breathing exercise?  The idea is that by controlling your breathing, you can reduce stress and help your body relax.  To get started, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and leave it there during the exercise.  Then, follow these steps:

  1. Exhale audibly through your mouth.
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose while counting to four.
  3. Hold your breath for seven seconds.
  4. Exhale through your mouth while counting to eight.
  5. Repeat the cycle a total of four times.

It may seem a little tricky at first but some people swear it’s worth the effort.

Apply pressure to these points

Acupressure is a technique used to heal the body by applying pressure to specific spots.  It has the same points as acupuncture but instead of using needles, you use your hands.  Some of the best acupressure points for curing sleep problems are:

  • Spirit Gate – This point lies on the inside of the wrist right in line with the pinky finger. Use your thumb to apply mild pressure for a minute then switch hands.  The spirit gate relieves anxiety, cold sweats and insomnia due to over excitement.
  • Third Eye – Your third eye is located between your eyebrows right above the bridge of your nose. Use your thumb or index finger to apply gentle pressure for two minutes.  The third eye alleviates headaches, anxiety, insomnia and calms the central nervous system.
  • Wind Mason – You can find this point in the center of the back of the head.  Right where you feel the hollow under the base of the skull.  Apply firm pressure using your thumb for one minute.  Close your eyes and take a deep breath during the process.  Repeat 2-3 times if necessary.  The wind mason is said to ease mental stress, eye problems, headaches and insomnia.