Sleep Health

Is Your Sleep Off? You May Need to Reset Your Body-Clock

Our body’s internal mechanism for regulating when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to sleep can get thrown off so easily. Your body-clock may be off from daylight savings changes, high stress from the news, to an irregular sleep routine. Get it back on track with these really simple, all-natural tips:

Sharpen Your Focus with Bergamot

For a quick morning pick-me-up, spend a few moments breathing in the spicy-floral scent of bergamot essential oil. British investigators say the aroma jump-starts the body’s creation of GABA, a revitalizing chemical that enhances communication between brain cells to heighten your concentration in as little as five minutes.

Beat Brain Fog with a Morning Stretch

When you first wake up, your body is naturally in short supply of focus-enhancing brain chemicals. That’s even more pronounced after the clocks shift forward, since your wake-up time is now an hour earlier. One remedy: spending 15 minutes stretching the large muscles in your body—try touching your toes, reaching for the sky and squeezing your shoulders together. British researchers say moving your large muscle groups sends signals to the brain to speed the release of those revitalizing chemicals, heightening your attention by 38% for four hours.

AND DOWN SOME H2O! To perk up your brain, start your morning with a glass of water. Your body flushes out toxins and waste overnight, leaving you dehydrated and fuzzy-minded first thing in the AM. But Georgia Institute of Technology investigators say being adequately hydrated quickly wakes up your brain, helping you make 50% fewer errors on whatever task is at hand.

Boost Productivity by Hiding Your Phone

The disruption to your sleep/wake cycle during daylight saving time throws your body clock for such a loop that researchers equate it to experiencing jet lag without ever leaving home, triggering a nosedive in productivity. To get back on track, tuck away your phone. Even when your phone’s on silent and facedown, University of Texas at Austin researchers say your brain channels mental resources into quashing the urge to pick it up and check it. But if you stash it out of sight—in a closed drawer or in another room—scientists say you’ll significantly up your productivity. Bonus: British researchers found hiding your phone reduces stress too!

AND SAVOR A FEW MOMENTS OF SILENCE! Whether you’re in an office or checking off to-do’s, popping in earplugs for 30 minutes of silence in the late morning shuts out mentally draining distractions so effectively that Cornell University investigators say it increases productivity 67%.

Quiet Stress with a Wish for Loved Ones

Busy days and a disrupted body clock can leave your brain’s anxiety center stuck in overdrive. Luckily, spending 10 minutes reflecting on well wishes for loved ones can cut stress hormone production by as much as 50%, researchers report. That’s because thoughts and prayers that focus on helping others channel a sense of calm.

AND RUB YOUR FEET! Massaging the soles of your feet and your toes for two minutes lowers stress levels by 45%, a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found, by stimulating nerve endings that tell your brain to relax.

Reverse a Slump with Macadamias

You’re likely already groggy as your body works to resync itself, and when you pair that with a snooze-inducing blood-sugar dip that often occurs in the afternoon, you may really crave a nap. To the rescue: a tasty snack. UCLA investigators say munching on 1 oz. of macadamia nuts, either on their own or in a fun snack like a cookie, boosts energy by 65%, since the nuts enhance your body’s ability to soak up energizing glucose for fuel.

AND CHILL YOUR CHEEKS! Splashing cool water on your face or draping an ice pack across your eyes can jump-start the release of revitalizing brain waves in as little as 30 seconds, say Australian scientists. This increases your energy by 50% for 90 minutes.

Sleep Deep with a Soothing Voice

You lose more than just an hour of slumber when you “spring forward.” Scientists say the time change can rob you of shut-eye for more than a week! The easy fix: Listening to a playlist with a serene voice lulling to you to sleep helps you stay in the deeper stages of slumber up to 80% longer and cuts overnight awakenings by 33%, a study in SLEEP found. One to try: Meditation Oasis podcast (MeditationOasis.com).

AND SLIP ON AN EYE MASK! A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that blocking light helps your body churn out more of the sleep hormone melatonin, curbing the need for sleep aids.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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