There’s so much to love about a good night’s sleep. Catching more Zzzs can give you all-day energy, sharper focus, and put you in a good mood, too! Now researchers have uncovered another benefit: It cuts risk of diabetes in half and heightens blood-sugar control more effectively than even prescription diabetes medications can.
Do you struggle to fall asleep, or stay asleep? Try these tips for getting the best night’s rest you can.
Have a crunchy bedtime snack.
Savoring a crunchy evening treat is an easy way to doze off faster. In a study at Loma Linda University in California comparing healthy bedtime snacks, peanuts produced the biggest surge in sleep-inducing delta brain waves — often in five minutes. Plant fats in peanuts also increase the production of calming serotonin, halving your risk of restless sleep. Tip: Try nibbling on a half cup of chocolate-covered peanuts, or spread a spoonful of peanut butter on a few crackers.
Crack open a cold one.
Trouble unwinding? Sipping an evening beer (regular or nonalcoholic) helps you drift off 50 percent faster and sleep 27 percent more deeply, Spanish scientists say. Unique beer compounds called hops boost release of the relaxing brain chemical GABA.
Take in the stars.
Before heading to bed, step outside (or open a window) to breathe in the cool evening air and listen to the last rustles and chirps as nature settles in for the night. Swiss scientists say the aromas and sounds of nightfall quickly calm the anxiety center of the brain (the amygdala). That can help you feel relaxed and ready to snooze in 10 minutes.
Lift your feet.
To curb sleep-disrupting pain by 60 percent and add 30 minutes to your nightly slumber, try this: While lying in bed, lift your legs in the air and slowly pedal your feet for two minutes as if riding a bicycle. Pain researcher Christine Wiebking, Ph.D., says this quickly flushes pain-triggering fluids out of your legs.
Repeat a motto.
You’re 78 percent more likely to sleep soundly if you’re optimistic as you drift off, University of Illinois scientists say. Happy thoughts reduce sleep-disrupting stress hormones. Try repeating a cheery “mattress motto” before bed, such as “I find joy in the journey,” or “Tomorrow is a new day.”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.