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Sleep! The struggle is real for so many people. It doesn't need to be a struggle.

Do you struggle trying to fall asleep, stay asleep, or even just being tired enough to lay down at night? Sleep is something that evades many people and is a factor behind a weakened immune system, weight gain, irritability, inability to focus on daily tasks and so much more. It is imperative to get to the bottom of what is causing your insomnia and resolving the issue(s), so you can get a full nights rest, every night! Your health and body depend on you getting the golden 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. Here are eight tips to help you develop a healthy sleep pattern.

1. Caffeine is one of the main contributing factors to disrupted sleep. Drinking caffeinated beverages after 12:00 pm, can significantly affect sleep. It is imperative to be mindful of the amount of caffeine being consumed as well as how late in the day you are consuming it. The half-life of caffeine, or the time it takes to leave your body, is on average, 5 to 6 hours. This time frame will vary based on things like body weight, medication intake, liver health and your body's ability to metabolize it, as well as other things. Reducing caffeine intake can make a significant impact in how quickly you fall asleep and the quality of your sleep.

2. Exercise is wonderful for our bodies and can be very beneficial. However, exercising to close to bedtime can make it harder to drift off into a deep sleep. Keeping your workouts earlier in the day, will be beneficial to getting a good nights rest.

3. Alcohol is another substance that disrupts sleep patterns very significantly. Although many believe that it helps sleep and may seem like you fall asleep quickly after a night of indulging; it actually prevents you from achieving the deep REM level of sleep we all want. It's also common to wake up in the middle of the night after drinking. The reason for this is that after drinking, production of Adenosine (a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain) is increased, allowing for a fast onset of sleep. But it subsides as quickly as it came, making you more likely to wake up before you’re truly rested. Because alcohol causes your whole body to relax, including the muscles of your throat, it can make you more prone to snoring and sleep apnea, which will both affect getting a good nights rest. Refraining from drinking alcoholic beverages right before bed, as well as limiting your consumption of alcohol, will definitely assist you in achieving a good nights sleep.

4.Bedtime Rituals are great for winding down before bed. Put away the electronics and find a good book to read or enjoy a warm and relaxing bath. Whatever is relaxing to you, will be beneficial for calming yourself down before actually going to sleep.

5. Healthy Diet is also a wonderful way to help you sleep. Fruits, vegetables, healthy whole grains, lean meats, nuts and seeds, things like that, will all nourish your body in many ways and help promote a healthy sleep pattern. Stay away from all the "extra's" in processed foods, that can disrupt sleep the same way they disrupt behavior. The chemicals that are used in processed junk food are something that should be avoided if at all possible.

6. Reduce Stress in your life. Find healthier ways to cope with stress. Things like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, are all great options for giving yourself a few moments of relaxation and allowing your body to turn off the fight or flight response. This is very beneficial for calming your mind, body and spirit. In reality most things in life will pass and you will get through them, without needing to sacrifice your health and sleep by stressing excessively on them. Learn to let things go.

7. No Cell Phones, TV or Computer two hours before bed. The blue light that these electronics give off can be overly stimulating right before bed and keep you awake after you lay down to go to sleep.

8. Supplements are an option, in addition to the above recommendations. Things like magnesium oxide or melatonin can help when you need them.

With a few changes to your lifestyle and diet, a restful nights sleep can definitely be achieved.

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