12 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster
How to get your sleep and feel fully rested every day
You know you need your beauty rest. But if you're like the quarter of all adults in the United States who struggle to get enough sleep, you know this doesn't always come easily. Six to 10 percent of Americans fit the diagnostic bill for insomnia. And chronic sleep deprivation can lead to more mistakes on the job, mood issues, and even some chronic diseases.
Here are 12 secrets of highly effective sleepers to keep you ahead of the game.
1. Power down. Wrench yourself away from devices — smartphones, laptops, tablets, and televisions included — an hour before you plan on being asleep, board certified sleep medicine physician Robert S. Rosenberg, MD, and author of The Doctor's Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety, advises. Screens emit blue light, he says, which signal your body and brain to stay wired rather than wind down.
If you feel you must stay glued to a screen in the hour or so leading up to bedtime, Dr. Rosenberg recommends installing flux, a software that changes the color scheme on your laptop or tablet such that melanopic light (as opposed to bright blue and white light) shines forth from your screen. Other software programs like Twilight for Android phones or Night Mode for iPhones may also help, though not as much as powering them all down completely.
2. Have a ritual. Dr. Rosenberg says having a reliable pre-bedtime routine can improve the ease with which you fall asleep. Not only does a routine help wean your central nervous system off all your daily stressors, it teaches your brain what to associate with getting sleepy. Over time, cues like warm showers, slow yoga, curling up with a book, or listening to calming music naturally trigger your body's relaxation response.
3. Hide the clock. Keep all reminders of how little time may be left before you have to wake upout of sight, Dr. Rosenberg recommends. "Staring at the clock increases anxiety and calculation," he explains. "You trigger the body's stress response, making it impossible to fall asleep."
4. Locate some lavender. No matter what form it comes in — oils, candles, sprays, or scented lotions — lavender has been found to improve both how easily people fall asleep as well as how long they remain at rest.
5. Breathe. Alongside visualization, basic breathing techniques help induce your body's relaxation response, Dr. Rosenberg explains. Even if it's just focusing on the breath, rather than trying to control it.
6. Cool it. A too hot room can make staying asleep difficult, as your body is too overheated to relax. Dr. Rosenberg recommends a cool temperature for most bedrooms — 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
7. Keep it dark. Covering up or removing sneaky sources of light (think: street lamps from outside or blinking lights from a device on standby) can markedly improve your sleep, says Dr. Rosenberg. Consider installing blackout curtains, deploying an eye mask, or positioning a T-shirt or empty pillowcase over your eyes. Remember, light triggers the body’s wakefulness response. So the less of it you expose yourself to during the hours you wish to be dreaming, the better.
8. Seize the day (when you wake up). Exposing yourself to outdoor light within two hours of waking helps set the body’s circadian clock so that sleepiness starts settling in once the sun goes down, says Dr. Rosenberg. Stick your face near a window if you can't leave your home or office. Even indirect sunlight counts!
9. Keep naps to 30 minutes max. If you're seriously pooped from a previous night of poor sleep, try not to nap for longer than 30 minutes, Dr. Rosenberg recommends. A too-long nap can set you up for another night of bad sleep, as your circadian rhythm gets thrown out of whack.
10. Exercise regularly. You probably already know this. But if you need added incentive to stay active at least three days a week (preferably for 30 minutes or more) keep in mind that physical activity helps you log adequate Z's.
Dr. Rosenberg explains this is because physical activity increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurochemical released in response to exertion that helps regulate mood and promote relaxation.
11. Don't drink to fall asleep. One or two glasses of wine, beer, or a serving of your favorite liquor isn't the end of the world. But Dr. Rosenberg says regularly boozing to fall asleep only serves to make insomnia worse.
Alcohol may help you fall asleep, he explains, but as your body metabolizes it, your sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear, causing you to wake in the early hours of the morning awash in the stress hormone cortisol and unable to resume any shut-eye.
Heavy drinking also suppresses your REM sleep cycles, Dr. Rosenberg adds, leaving you groggier the following day.
12. Curb your caffeine intake early. Any more milligrams of caffeine after 2 p.m. is asking for trouble when it comes to getting to sleep at a reasonable hour, says Dr. Rosenberg. Try swapping that afternoon pick-me-up with a non-caffeinated beverage more often, and you may find you won't need a p.m. jolt as badly — since less caffeine in your system makes for a much smoother night of sleep the night before.
Courtesy of Cosmopolitan magazine
3 Tricks to Clean (and Avoid) Dirty, Cruddy, and Grimy Shirt Collars
If your shirt collar is looking nasty, there is hope. Here's everything you need to know.
Gentlemen, we're in the thick of August. We're heading full speed toward Labor Day, the fall, and the holidays, which basically means it's already 2016. Around this time of year, many of us tire of the heat, the humidity, the sweat, and the soiled shirt collars that come with the aforementioned. That ring of cruddy buildup can put a gross-ass damper on your workday and wardrobe, but we're happy to report that your shirts can be rescued, thanks to the wisdom of cleaning phenomenon Jolie Kerr.
Before we get into the prevention, we've got to understand the creation of these rings. "It's more or less intuitive, but it's caused mostly by sweat," Kerr explained over the phone. "If you live in a city, the grime will lead to rings around the collar. Dead skin and the natural oils from your body rub onto the collar of your shirt that leads to a buildup of yellow and brown dingy muck. City grime is a part of that, too." She also cautioned that if you have long hair, any product you put in it will exacerbate the issue. Hearing her actually describe what was up was enough to make me set my shirt collar on fire, which seemed drastic, so we then talked prevention.
Believe it or not, your best line of defense starts before you even put a shirt on. "For men that notice a significant problem," Kerr tells us, "they need to make sure they're really scrubbing the back of their neck." And while that may seem obvious, think of the last time you truly paid attention to the back of your neck in the shower. It was probably longer ago than you realize. Making sure your neck is clean and letting any hair product dry before you put your shirt on will help keep those grime rings away.
If you catch a ring forming early—"a fresh ring," as Kerr calls it—then restoring your shirt to brilliance will be easier. "If you take off your shirt and see a fresh ring, pre-treat the stain with virtually any laundry pre-treatment product. Any kind of spray or stick will be fine. Hit your collar as soon as you can, then throw it in the hamper or wherever it goes." Though many stain removers will work, Kerr recommends Zout, an enzymatic product that's particularly good on protein stains.
Long-Standing Stain Removal
More often than not, you're going to happen upon these stains once they've really set in. They may have even been laundered a few times before you notice them, but it's all good. In that situation, Kerr counsels us to amp things up a little. "Take the shirts, soak them in water with some kind of stain treatment like powdered OxiClean. Soak them for a few hours and launder them as usual; they should come out looking significantly better. You'll be shocked!" If you can find it, Oxiclean White Revive works supposed miracles (it restored Kerr's pillowcases to looking brand new).
So instead of setting your shirts ablaze in a farewell-to-summer bonfire, just arm yourself with the appropriate products and a little bit of effort. Your shirts will thank you.
Courtesy of GQ magazine