How can we determine if we’re healthy or not? What determines healthiness?

Three things are essential to be in perfect health: nutrition, exercise, and sleep. You need to always pay attention to all of these, yet 50–70 million adults in the US report having some sort of sleep disorder, with 30% of them taking sleeping pills.

Not enough sleep can have many consequences:

  • A 46% increased risk of hypertension and diabetes when sleeping less than five hours a day
  • A tendency to snack and binge more with an increased appetite
  • A 55% greater risk of developing a weight problem
  • A tendency to experience negative moods, depression, and nervousness because you’re not caring for your brains needs and experiencing problems with learning, memory, stress and emotional management
  • A weakened immune system caused by poor cellular regeneration, making you more prone to infections

A lack of sleep clearly decreases your life expectancy, but how much sleep do we really need? To find out, test yourself during the second week of your vacation (the first week is needed to bring your sleep cycle to normal). How many hours did you sleep naturally in this week? Most of us will sleep for 7–9 hours. Also, did you have any health problems during this week, such as sleep apnea or thyroid problems, if you take any sleeping pills.

Here are my eight vital pieces of advice for your health. These will help you sleep better, so you can recover mentally and avoid the dangerous consequences of too little sleep.

1) Avoid Stimulants in the Evening

This includes things like coffee, tea, coke, and alcohol. These stimulants accelerate the heart rate, but you need to slow down in order to sleep. They also excite the central nervous system, alerting you rather than relaxing you. They also hinder the absorption of magnesium, which helps fight against nervous fatigue.

Poor sleep can be a vicious circle. The more trouble you have sleeping, the more you tire. To compensate, you probably try to overcome it with a cup of coffee! Caffeine is a diuretic, so it flushes out magnesium with your urine, especially after the third cup of coffee. Generally speaking, you should avoid any such stimulants, especially if you have a sleeping problem.

2) Make Sure You Have Enough Magnesium

Around 75% of people in industrialized countries are lacking magnesium because of stress and a bad lifestyle. To correct this, eat more food rich in magnesium, such as spinach, banana, figs, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate. You could also try supplements for a while with a dose of 300-600 mg/day, depending on the severity of your fatigue. It’s better to split this over two or three doses a day rather than all at once. Note that this might bring on diarrhea, and always consult your doctor before starting any supplement

3) Reduce Artificial Light

Artificial light is a cause of insomnia. Our ancestors lived without artificial light for thousands of years. The blue light emitted by computer monitors, smartphones, and tablets blocks the secretion of melatonin, which is usually triggered by the low light levels after sunset. This even applies to blind people. The secretion of melatonin already decreases with age, so these electronic devices are making it even worse. Replace these gizmos with books and magazines. You could also try downloading an app called f.lux, which matches your screen’s glow to match the time of day.

4) Stimulate the Release of Melatonin and Eat a Healthy Diet

Melatonin is the central regulation hormone for chrono-biological rhythms. It’s particularly synthesized between one and two in the night. A good source is olive oil, which contains 53-120 mg/ml naturally. Melatonin, however, is synthesized by a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is derived from an amino acid called tryptophane. This should be consumed 6–8 hours before bedtime to allow complete protein digestion. It will then be stored in the liver and progressively released into the blood. Taking Vitamin D and B6 can also help you sleep.

5) Herbal Remedies for Sleeping

These old remedies are really useful. Many herbal infusions can help with sleeping problems, such as valerian, passiflora, Californian poppy, hawthorn, jasmine, linden, chamomile, vervain, and orange flower.

6) No Intense Exercise in the Evening

While exercise increases serotonin production, if you are stressed and not sleeping well, intense work can enervate the body and lead to a lack of magnesium. Furthermore, late-night exercise increases the body temperature, but we need to lower it to sleep well. It’s better to limit yourself to gentle exercise routines, such as yoga or stretching. As Paul Chek, a specialist in work-out methods and lifestyle, states, “It’s not only important to work out for health, but also work-in.” In other words, you need to stay calm and respect the balance between Yin and Yang.

7) Keep Your Bedroom and Your Body Fresh During the Night

A good quality sleep depends on both the ambient and body temperature. During winter, don’t heat your bedroom higher than 68F (20°C). Try airing your room during summer and take a shower or bath before going to bed.

8) Keep Calm and Do Your Affirmations

Spiritual affirmations help to remove internal negativity and regain control over your emotions. Repeated affirmations can change your life, bringing your closer to becoming a positive, healthy, happy, and peaceful person. Here are five affirmations you can use before going to bed:

  • I did all I could, and I did my best today.
  • I let all negative feelings, emotions, and thoughts fly away.
  • I am releasing all the negative emotions from my system.
  • I thank my body and spirit for what they have enabled me to do today.
  •  I will now allow myself to drift into a restful sleep.

As I said earlier, moderate, gentle exercises can help sleep. Here are seven yoga poses that can help you to enjoy a good night’s sleep. To get the best results, practice them every night for three weeks. Sleep well!

Paschimotanasana / Seated Forward Fold

Sit on a mat/cushion/blanket with your legs extended in front.
Inhale and raise your arms. Exhale and fold yourself over your waist. Let your arms fall and rest wherever they can, such as on your shins or ankles or on the floor.
Press your thighs onto the ground and relax. Keep breathing. You can bend your knees a little if your thighs are too tight.
Hold for 5–8 breaths, or longer if you prefer.

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

Upavishta Kosana / Wide-Seated Forward Fold

Sit on a mat/cushion /blanket with your legs open wide.
Place your hands on the floor behind your hips and, as you inhale, press them to the ground to lengthen your spine. Stay here if you feel the stretch is too much for your legs.
As you exhale, start walking your hands forward and folding slowly.
Choose to rest on your palms or forearms, whichever feels comfortable for you. Use your breath to deepen the position.
Stay here for 5–8 breaths or longer if you prefer.
Slowly walk your hands backwards to exit. Gently bend the knees by putting your hands under and bring your legs back together.

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

Baddha Konasana

Bring the soles of your feet together and form a diamond shape with your legs.
Hold the top of your feet. As you inhale, lengthen your spine and exhale to gently open your knees toward the floor. If this strains your inner thighs, place a blanket, cushion or block under each knee for support.
Stay here for 5–8 breaths or longer.

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

Supta Baddha Konasana

From your baddha konasana position, slowly lower yourself down. Lie on your back on the floor, or use a blanket behind your pelvis.
Stay here for 5–8 breaths or longer.
Close your knees gently and lie on your side to exit.

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

Knee-to-Chest

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
Gently bring your knees towards your chest and hug them with your arms.
Gently rock from side to side, or up and down along your spine if that feels good.
Stay here for 5–8 breaths or longer.

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

Reclined Ankle-to-Knee Pose

From the knee-to-chest position, cross your left ankle over the right knee.
Put your left arm between your thighs and your right arm next to your right thigh. Inhale and join your hands before exhaling and bringing your right knee to the chest.
Keep your foot flexed to protect your knee.
Stay here for 5–8 breaths or longer, then switch sides.

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

Supine Spinal Twist

Lie on your back.
Bring your knees on your hips, so your shins are parallel to the floor.
Open your arms wide like a cross.
Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, drop both knees to one side, keeping the opposite shoulder on the floor.
This must give your spine a gentle twist.
Stay here or look to the opposite side of your knees to give your neck a stretch too.
Stay here for 5-8 breaths or longer before gently switching sides.

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

Savasana / Corpse Pose

Lie on your back and release your legs.
Let your feet open on the sides.
Rest your arms along your body with palms facing the ceiling.
Close your eyes and soften your breath.
Concentrate on your breath and feel your body lying on the floor. Feel your presence.
Stay here for 5–8 breaths or longer.

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep

night, night—sleep tight: tips for better sleep