What do you see when you look in the mirror after a night of tossing and turning? Baggy eyes, sagging skin, and a few wrinkles that you swear weren’t there the day before. Yes, sleeping poorly makes you look old and feel old, too. And it gets worse. Insomnia leads to cognitive decline, a shorter memory, and a higher risk of dementia in the future.
It’s time turn to turn the tables on premature aging and lay claim to your youth, and this is even more important when your life is dedicated to caring for others, with all the physical and emotional energy that responsibility demands. Ready to get started? Good! Here’s some helpful advice on sleeping better and how you’ll benefit.
Improve Your Diet
Fiber and protein — those are the main ingredients in a diet that puts you to bed on time and keeps you asleep all night, according to Sharecare. Further, anything with potassium, tryptophan, or B6 will also lend well to a good night’s sleep. As far as specific foods, try adding legumes, vegetables, and fruits to your meals, along with an evening snack of cherries or a banana. You will also want to watch how much you eat, and plan dinnertime at least two hours before bed. While the digestion process is natural and expected, it’s not always comfortable.
Get Some Exercise
Too much nighttime activity could be keeping you awake. However, a quick session of cardio such as walking, jogging, or cycling in the morning tires you out, so sleep becomes a craving when the evening rolls around. Exercise can help you start your day off right. When combined with a bedtime routine, it becomes your wake up time, and your settling down session, which could be a warm bath or a few minutes reading, can trigger your brain that sleep is on the way. Physical activity can also help you burn off stress, which is on top of the list when it comes to issues that cause insomnia. And when you’re caring for another person, stress and anxiety are frequently compounded several times over.
Speaking of stress, learn to manage it through mindfulness meditation. This involves focusing on your breathing and feeling every sensation in the present to generate a “relaxation response” that cancels out stress and anxiety. Best of all, there’s no need to run off to a Buddhist retreat, as you can do it right at home. If you have a moment during your day, step away to a quiet area and focus yourself. Doing so can help you provide the best care possible for those you love. On the days you find it difficult to break free, look for small moments where you can clear your mind. This might be a minute while you are in the bathroom, while walking to check the mail, or when your loved ones are watching television.
Transform Your Bedroom
If you haven’t turned your bedroom into a sanctuary of sleep, diet, exercise, and meditation are for naught, as a slamming door or passing headlights could wake you from your slumber. Stay cozy and rested with warm bedding and a quality mattress, then invest in a white noise machine and blackout blinds. Oh, and leave the distracting TV and laptop in the living room. These gadgets may be vital to your day, but they are detrimental to your night. Even the smallest screens output blue light, which is the same type of brightness that seeps into your eyes from the sun. Not surprising, blue light can tell your brain it’s daytime, and that’s a mixed message that you won’t sort out quickly.
Stick to a Routine
Once you’re falling asleep at a regular time, don’t ruin that habit by staying up late to watch a movie or finish a book. That’ll throw your rhythm out of whack, and you can’t get it back so easily. Develop a regular evening routine, then follow it. Of course, all that takes effort. If you’re looking for motivation, here are the positive effects you’ll see from more restful sleep.
- More Energy – This is a no-brainer, but if want to know how, Art of Fitness and Life explains that your body replenishes hormones, clears out toxins, fixes damaged tissue, builds up your immunity and more all while your resting, making you ready for action the next day.
- Sharper Memory – Remembering faces and names gets difficult with the years, but much less so when you sleep soundly. It all comes down to greater neural connections that consolidate your memories, making them easier to recall at a moments notice.
- Weight Loss – You’ll shed pounds through the healthy diet and exercise mentioned above, and then you’ll keep it off thanks to the stable appetite and fewer cravings that come with quality sleep, not to mention a faster metabolism.
- Fresh Skin – Do you know what goes great with a trim figure? A smooth and glowing exterior that takes years off your appearance thanks to being well rested. It turns out that sleep staves off inflammation, which destroys the collagen that keeps your skin supple. And if your eyes give away your age, you should know that sleep is one of the best remedies for redness and swelling. If your eyes continue to look sunken and tired after a few nights of quality slumber, talk to your doctor about possible allergies.
- Positivity – All of these changes result in a newfound optimism you may not have experienced since your teens. Simply put, when you feel good and look great, you get a boost in confidence that makes the future so much brighter.
Here’s an important thing to keep in mind: The people who rely on you for care also benefit from your newfound youthfulness, so make the right decision and get serious about sleep. You’ll be a better caregiver for it, and you can rest easy knowing that the ones who need you most have the best version of you possible: the one that’s well-rested, happy, and alert.