Better sleep helps weight loss, energy and happiness

Each night most of us hit the pillow and dream away the day; Wait that's not the truth, more and more research is showing that sleep isn't sound or restful. Many people spend time counting sheep or staring at the ceiling.

Research is growing about a relationship between weight gain and brain performance. Therefore it's key to get a good night's rest. Sleep enables us to reset our bodies metabolism and repair cells and muscles. It's even been found as a key ingredient in living happier according to Dan Buettner, author of THRIVE, a book about the happiest people in the world

Here are ten key things you should do tonight to get a better nights rest and more sound sleep.
1. Dim the lights - Light stimulates cortisol and prepares your body for excitement. Decrease the lights and that will help decrease the stress hormone cortisol as well.
2. Take a warm bath - Just as we bathed our children before bedtime, a warm bath can soothe achy muscles and relax the body for better sleep.
3. Turn off bad news - The last input to the brain can be remembered and transferred into your dreams resulting in a restless nights sleep. Turn off the news or tune into a love story or comedy before bed.
4. Fish pose - This simple yoga move being on your back with bent knees and lifting your hips in the air can release tight hip flexor muscles that pull on the lower back. Hold this pose for 10-30 seconds and slowly lower your hips back to the bed. Repeat 2-3 times and then stretch your arms and legs away from the midline to reset tension in the spine.
5. Sexy spine stretch - Another great stretch to try before bed as well as when you wake up in the morning is the sexy spine stretch. Start laying on floor or in bed with legs outstretched. One knee is bent and that same arm behind the head with elbow to the side. Now roll that knee to the side. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
6. Sip don't splurge - A small amount of alcohol like red wine may help to calm the body and help you relax before bed. But studies show that more than 4 oz of alcohol before bed may keep you up at night. So sip, don't splurge.
7. Energy you can't see - Electro magnetic fields surround your electronic appliances and gears. Even a lamp has some energy it produces when turned off. Think of unplugging your electronics on the nightstand or keep them far from the bed. Studies show that you brain picks up these energy fields and may result in less productive sleep.
8. Hold the coffee until morning - Coffee and other caffeinated beverages can keep you awake for up to six hours after consumption. So try to avoid these types of drinks and foods at least 4-6 hours before bed.
9. Meditate or stretch - Calming exercises like yoga and meditation maybe better for a good nights rest instead of cardio. Cardio and intense exercise can increase heart-rate and metabolism for 2-3 hours post exercise. Save your walk, run or jog for the morning.
10. Write it down- Journaling is a great way to review your day, clear your mind and take time to be grateful. Keep a pad of paper or journal book beside your bed to write a few notes to yourself before you travel off to slumberland.

When was the last time you got a good night's sleep? Be rested, be well.

Andrea Metcalf is a healthy lifestyle advocate and author of Naked Fitness. From speaking to corporate wellness clients to training people in their homes, Andrea is a highly sought after health professional and celebrity.


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