We avoid caffeine and turn off gadgets long before bed, so why do so many of us have trouble falling — and staying — asleep? Experts say four of the top culprits are sneaky sleep sappers that are easily put to bed! Here’s how...
Too wired to drift off? Wiggle your toes.
Thanks to a whirlwind life, 33 percent of us are still charged up on sleep-sabotaging stress hormones at bedtime. To drift off 42 minutes faster — and snooze 70 percent more soundly — do 10 minutes of gentle stretches before sleep. Simply reach for the sky, flex your hands, and wiggle your toes. Sleep researcher Diana Lee, PhD, explains that stretches stimulate nerves that tell your adrenal glands to tamp down their release of stress hormones.
Weird dreams? Stroll at lunch.
If you’re constantly having bizarre dreams, your brain could be craving GABA, a neurotransmitter that calms a busy brain and reduces worry, says psychiatrist Phil Nuss, MD. The simple fix? Head outdoors for a 15-minute midday stroll. Researchers at Georgetown University say combining sun exposure with motion boosts GABA production and deepens sleep for 82 percent of women — often in 48 hours — and erases insomnia better than prescription meds.
Up too early? Enjoy a colorful salad.
When your eyes pop open before your alarm goes off, you may need more vitamin C. Italian researchers say C calms your adrenal glands, stopping them from releasing an early morning surge of the stress hormone cortisol. Just 1 cup daily of C-rich greens and strawberries could help you sleep 35 minutes longer and feel 60 percent more upbeat all day.
Awakening with a headache? Boost this.
The top signs of low magnesium are trouble sleeping and morning headaches — and after age 50, up to 60 percent of us have trouble absorbing this mineral from food. But University of Massachusetts researchers say taking 500 mg. of magnesium cuts the risk of restless sleep and am headaches by up to 80 percent in five days. Try: Life Extension Magnesium Caps ($24.75, LEF.com/ww). Note: Check with your doctor before supplementing.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.
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