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    A New Study Shows That Nightmares Are A Good Predictor Of Future Dementia

    We spend a third of our lives asleep. And a quarter of our time asleep is spent dreaming. So, for the average person alive in 2022, with a life expectancy of around 73, that clocks in at just over six years of dreaming.

    Yet, given the central role that dreaming plays in our lives, we still know so little about why we dream, how the brain creates dreams, and importantly, what the significance of our dreams might be for our health – especially the health of our brains.

    My latest study, published in The Lancet’s eClinicalMedicine journal, shows that our dreams can reveal a surprising amount of information about our brain health. More specifically, it shows that having frequent bad dreams and nightmares (bad dreams that make you wake up) during middle or older age, may be linked with an increased risk of developing dementia.

    In the study, I analysed data from three large US studies of health and ageing. These included over 600 people aged between 35 and 64, and 2,600 people aged 79 and older.

    All the participants were dementia-free at the start of the study and were followed for an average of nine years for the middle-aged group and five years for the older participants.

    At the beginning of the study (2002-12), the participants completed a range of questionnaires, including one which asked about how often they experienced bad dreams and nightmares.

    I analysed the data to find out whether participants with a higher frequency of nightmares at the beginning of the study were more likely to go on to experience cognitive decline (a fast decline in memory and thinking skills over time) and be diagnosed with dementia.

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    Weekly nightmares

    I found that middle-aged participants who experienced nightmares every week, were four times more likely to experience cognitive decline (a precursor to dementia) over the following decade, while the older participants were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

    Interestingly, the connection between nightmares and future dementia was much stronger for men than for women. For example, older men who had nightmares every week were five times more likely to develop dementia compared with older men reporting no bad dreams. In women, however, the increase in risk was only 41%. I found a very similar pattern in the middle-aged group.

    Overall, these results suggest frequent nightmares may be one of the earliest signs of dementia, which can precede the development of memory and thinking problems by several years or even decades – especially in men.

    Alternatively, it is also possible that having regular bad dreams and nightmares might even be a cause of dementia.

    Given the nature of this study, it is not possible to be certain which of these theories is correct (though I suspect it is the former). However, regardless of which theory turns out to be true – the major implication of the study remains the same, that is, that having regular bad dreams and nightmares during middle and older age may be linked to an increased risk of developing dementia later in life.

    READ MORE: Are Your Drinking Habits Ruining Your Brain Health?

    The good news is that recurring nightmares are treatable. And the first-line medical treatment for nightmares has already been shown to decrease the build-up of abnormal proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease. There have also been case reports showing improvements in memory and thinking skills after treating nightmares.

    These findings suggest that treating nightmares might help to slow cognitive decline and to prevent dementia from developing in some people. This will be an important avenue to explore in future research.

    The next steps for my research will include investigating whether nightmares in young people might also be linked to increased dementia risk. This could help to determine whether nightmares cause dementia, or whether they are simply an early sign in some people. I also plan to investigate whether other dream characteristics, such as how often we remember our dreams and how vivid they are, might also help to determine how likely people are to develop dementia in the future.

    This research might not only help to shed light on the relationship between dementia and dreaming, and provide new opportunities for earlier diagnoses – and possibly earlier interventions – but it may also shed new light on the nature and function of the mysterious phenomenon that we call dreaming.

    This article is taken from The Conversation, where it’s been published under a Creative Commons license.

    READ MORE: What Really Happens To Your Body (And Brain) On A Detox Diet?

    Abidemi Otaiku

    NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Neurology, University of Birmingham More

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    Seriously Now, Is Alcohol Really THAT Bad For Your Sleep?

    A nightcap may be nice, but is likely to lead to a fragmented night’s rest.
    While it is true that booze acts as a sedative, it also disrupts dreams and shakes up the sleep cycle. It reduces time spent in the stage of sleep understood to be the most restorative, the rapid eye movement, or REM, phase. Prolonged use can cause insomnia, sleep apnoea and snoring.
    These are the findings of the London Sleep Centre, which has published a review of all known studies on the effect of alcoholic beverages on sleep in healthy volunteers.
    Alcohol: a sleep disruptor
    ”At all dosages, alcohol causes a reduction in sleep onset latency, a more consolidated first half sleep and an increase in sleep disruption in the second half of sleep,” the authors said in the latest issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Lead researcher on the review, Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, told the BBC people should be cautious about using the bottle to send themselves to sleep.
    ”One or two glasses might be nice in the short term, but if you continue to use a tipple before bedtime it can cause significant problems,” he said. ”If you do have a drink, it’s best to leave an hour-and-a-half to two hours before going to bed so the alcohol is already wearing off.
    READ MORE: 21 Best Self-Care Gifts For Her That Go Way Beyond Face Masks
    It can also mess with your breathing
    ”With increasing doses, alcohol suppresses our breathing. It can turn non-snorers into snorers and snorers into people with sleep apnoea – where the breathing’s interrupted.”
    Professor Peter Cistulli, the head of sleep medicine at the University of Sydney and director of the Sleep Health Foundation, says there are three reasons for this.
    First, alcohol is a muscle relaxant so the throat muscles become vulnerable. Second, the additives in some forms of alcohol, particularly red wine, cause nasal congestion. This means people are more likely to breathe through their mouths and therefore more likely to snore and more prone to sleep apnoea. Third, ”alcohol numbs the brain [so, if for instance] the throat collapses and there is alcohol on board, recognition of that problem is delayed”.
    READ MORE: Mindful Drinking: How More And More People Are Becoming ‘Sober Curious’
    Booze can mess with deep sleep
    From the hundreds of studies assessed by the London Sleep Centre, the most significant finding was the effect of alcohol on REM sleep. This is because the body does not slip into the deeper dreaming sleep state until it has metabolised the alcohol.
    ”The onset of the first REM sleep period is significantly delayed at all doses and appears to be the most recognisable effect of alcohol on REM sleep followed by the reduction in total night REM sleep,” the researchers said.
    REM sleep is still not fully understood, but it is seen as necessary for survival. Reduced REM can also lead to people feeling more fatigued the next day. One British study found almost half of the 2000 drinkers surveyed acknowledged increased tiredness after a drinking session, but 58 per cent did not realise alcohol was the reason. Cistulli said a greater awareness of the effect of alcohol on sleep means people are more able to address sleeping issues.
    ”Alcohol is a chemical and the brain is a soup of chemicals,” he said. ”Alcohol gets in there and mucks up the soup that is relevant to sleep.”
    However, he said the London Sleep Centre review is based on generalisations and ”there are clearly individual variations”. The findings are of most benefit to people who have trouble sleeping and aren’t aware of the impact alcohol is having, Cistulli said. ”Once they start to understand the link, they can start to modify their behaviour.”
    Courtesy of Stuff
    READ MORE: How To Do The Festive Season Sober, Plus The 14 Best Alcohol-Free Drinks More

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    Struggling With Weight Loss but Not Sure Why? Here Are 5 Possible Reasons

    “It’s simple,” they say. “Just eat well and exercise!” It’s the age-old weight loss formula, but we all know better: Losing weight isn’t that black and white and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Maintaining a healthy diet and spending time at the gym are just two of the many factors that play a role in weight. And, let’s face it: Whether you’re trying to lose weight to improve your overall health, feel more in tune with yourself and your body, or fit into your old go-to pair of skinny jeans (no matter what Gen Z says!), losing weight can be a struggle even when you’re doing everything “right.” So what gives? To get down to the nitty-gritty, I asked Andi Lew, a certified food, lifestyle, and wellness coach and author of Connected: A Paradigm Shift in How We View Health, to weigh in on underlying causes that may be hindering your weight loss efforts.
    BTW, the purpose of this article is not to make you believe that weight loss has to be a goal (it doesn’t) or that you need to obsess over these factors or else you’ll gain weight (you won’t). Instead, this article is meant to show you that trouble losing weight has absolutely nothing to do with your willpower, laziness, or worth. If weight loss is your goal and you feel like there’s no hope, read on for five eye-opening oversights to watch out for. 

    Meet the expert

    Certified Food, Lifestyle, and Wellness Coach
    Andi Lew is an Australian-native, leading wellness expert and best-selling author with nine books and 30 years experience in teaching natural health.

    1. You’re reaching for foods you think are healthy but really aren’t
    Step into any grocery store and you’ll be met with labels that read “all-natural,” “gluten-free,” and “low-fat” (I could go on and on). A word to the wise: Those buzzwords don’t give the whole picture. “A lot of health claims are placed on packages to sell you products,” Lew said. “For example, gluten-free or low-fat packaged goods often have added sugar, oils, and sodium, so read the nutrition facts carefully.”
    Also, these packaged (AKA processed) imposter health foods are void of nutrients. “Processed foods have been stripped of their vitamins and minerals so you end up overeating as you’re never satisfied on a nutritional level,” Lew said. “They’re usually packed with sugar, which is addictive and creates an inflamed gut and acidic environment. Cutting down or eliminating these foods will help the body regulate itself.” Bottom line: Swap health halo-wearing foods with whole foods (read: foods that exist in nature and that you’ll find in the outside perimeter of the store) or check the nutrition labels and make sure it’s all ingredients you recognize.

    2. You’re not getting enough nutrition
    Between the high fructose corn syrup, refined oils and sugars, and trans fats found in today’s processed foods, it’s no wonder more than 90% of Americans aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals, like magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E, and C, in their diets. “Poor diet combined with emotional or chemical stressors often results in leaky gut syndrome,” Lew explained. In other words, if you don’t have a healthy gut, it can’t properly absorb nutrients. The good news? You can improve your gut health by staying hydrated, consuming whole, unprocessed and high-fiber foods, managing stress, and catching quality Zzzs.
    Then, they’re not giving your body the nutrients it needs because you’re under-eating or restricting foods, thanks to being conditioned by diet culture to think that we need to eat less in order to lose weight. But eating too little can have the opposite effect by drastically slowing down your metabolism and causing hormonal shifts (more on that to come). Instead, make sure you’re eating enough to fuel yourself with the proper vitamin and mineral intake. (If you’re experiencing symptoms like sluggishness, hair loss, irritability, or feeling cold all the time, those could be signs you’re not eating enough.) Consider getting a blood panel to check your nutrient levels, eat the rainbow, choose locally-grown and organic food sources when possible, and listen to your body’s hunger cues and eat whenever you’re hungry. 

    3. You’re not prioritizing sleep 
    A holistic approach to wellness includes more than just nutrition and exercise. Lew stressed the impact sleep and stress have on maintaining a healthy weight. “When we don’t get quality sleep–due to stress or environmental stress like blue light emitted from phones–we release stress hormones called adrenaline and cortisol, which slow down our body’s self-healing and functioning capacity,” she said.
    Ever noticed how you reach for junk food when you’re stressed or running on little sleep? That’s no coincidence. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals tend to choose foods that are high in sugar and trans fat to compensate for feeling a lack of energy. What’s more, not getting enough or quality shut-eye is linked to increased hunger and portion sizes and decreased physical activity. On the other hand, waking up on the right side of the bed can help you make healthier food choices and feel more motivated to get your movement in. So take stock of your sleep habits and see where you can make improvements. Can you set a realistic and consistent sleep schedule? Or consider bidding adieu to your afternoon pick-me-up and favorite nightcap or lighting a candle while listening to soft music to relieve stress and unwind. Get your beauty sleep on and you just might get over the hump in your weight loss journey. 

    4. You have a hormonal imbalance
    Let’s be real: A lot of the times it feels like our hormones have a mind of their own, but hormone health is critical. Hormones facilitate nearly every bodily process, including metabolism, hunger, and fullness. Because hormones play a role in our appetites, some influence our body weight (looking at you, insulin, leptin, and cortisol). And when they’re out of whack (hello, fatigue, sugar cravings, weight loss resistance, stress), there’s no denying their effects. “An imbalance of hormones like excess cortisol may make the body go into fight or flight mode and induce the production of fat cells, which will cause a declining metabolism in an adaptive way for the body to store food for later use,” Lew stated. 
    So how do you strike the right hormonal balance? Tackle stress with meditation and yoga,  scrap the processed foods and refined carbs and and sugars (sound familiar?), go for workouts you enjoy and that stabilize cortisol (Pilates, anyone?), and get a good night’s sleep on the reg. If you’re still not able to hit reset on your hormones, Lew suggested scheduling a general check-up and working with your doctor or a health professional to address any underlying health conditions or hormonal imbalances you may have. 
    5. You have chronic inflammation
    More than just a major buzzword in the health and wellness space, inflammation is the common denominator of most chronic diseases and has a major impact on weight; with increased inflammation comes more weight gain. “If you regularly ingest inflammatory foods, such as sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates, or processed foods, you’re creating a toxic environment in the body that doesn’t have the ability to digest, absorb, or excrete nutrition,” Lew affirmed. She also pointed out that food intolerances can be a source of inflammation, so pay attention to common symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea and seek out a naturopath to test for foods you may be reacting to.
    So if you’re checking all the weight loss boxes with nothing to show for it, inflammation may be to blame. While ditching the weight-gaining culprit doesn’t happen overnight, you can start by passing on the processed eats, loading up on anti-inflammatory produce and fats (think: leafy greens, berries, and salmon), and taking hot girl walks to get your body moving. 

    10 Weight Loss Myths, According to a Registered Dietitian More

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    10 Nighttime Routine Essentials That’ll Make You Look Forward to Bedtime

    If you ask me, there are few things as satisfying as a solid’s night rest. You wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, refreshed and ready to take on the day feeling like a boss. Plus, those dark under-eye circles that no amount of concealer can hide are nowhere in sight. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all nighttime routine that’ll magically guarantee quality shut-eye, there are some tried-and-true staples to provide the calmness we all need for a good ol’ wind-down. And as someone who will do just about anything to get her beauty rest (because self-care), you better believe I’ve vetted them all. Below are the ten nighttime routines that passed the test with flying colors—from a tasty sleep aid to trusty gizmos. 

    Rapid Sleep Melts
    A melt-in-your-mouth “treat” that puts you to sleep may sound too good to be true, but this sleep aid checks all the boxes. Consider it the turndown service at your beck and call. The best part? It’s fast-acting. (It has “rapid” in its name for a reason.) We’re talking about falling asleep in as little as ten minutes. Did I mention it’s not only tasty but also sugar-free? It’s made of all-natural ingredients, so you can rest assured it’s doing your body good as soon as your head hits the pillow. Don’t snooze on this find.
    Use code theeverygirl for 20% off your first order at Equilibria!

    Hooga Health
    Red Light Therapy Device
    Forgo the hefty price tag of red light therapy at a spa or trendy health clinic, and instead, go with a DIY device to soak up the regenerative benefits of it in the comfort of your own home. Studies show that RLT can improve sleep quality and duration as well as enhance skin complexion. I’d call that a win-win.

    Primally Pure
    Warm Citrus Spice Room Spray
    Cardamom, wild orange, cinnamon bark, and other wildcrafted botanicals come together to create the warmth and comfort of fall in a (recyclable) bottle. With purifying, antibacterial properties that help to create a peaceful mindset and vibe, minimize stress, and promote relaxation, this spray will take you straight to dreamland. 

    Luxury Sheet Set
    Sleep experts say the optimal room temperature for a healthy snooze is between 65°F and 72°F. Enter: this sustainably-made cooling sheet set that’s thermal-regulating (read: helps maintain just the right body temp), breathable, and ridiculously soft. You’ll fall fast asleep in record time. Available in ten colors.

    Sleep Tea
    Forget warm milk. This soothing herbal tea blend packs a punch with calming and grounding effects on the nervous system, and we’re here for it. The ingredients speak for themselves: Valerian is a natural sedative that may help you fall asleep faster, while catnip can ease restlessness. The main takeaway? No counting sheep needed. 

    2-in-1 Humidifier & Diffuser
    An all-in-one humidifier and diffuser (with a sleek design, might I add), this gadget is a godsend for blissful sleep. Say goodbye to dryness and hello to breathing easy and deep relaxation. The lulling scents of sleep-inducing essential oils, like lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang, don’t hurt either. Available in two colors.

    Cushion Lab
    Deep Sleep Pillow
    PSA: Not all pillows are created equal. Do yourself a favor and stop tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable on the pillow you can’t remember when you last replaced. Instead, treat yourself to this heavenly stack. It’s the perfect balance of soft, zero-pressure cushioning and contouring support. And it will undoubtedly have you sleeping like a baby, no matter your preferred sleep position. Added perk: It comes with a no-skin-creases-and-hair-frizz pillowcase.

    MATE the Label
    Tencel Sleep Tee Dress
    If you’ve been catching your Zzzs in the same old T-shirt that’s seen better days, it’s time for an upgrade. This dreamy, ultra-comfy sleep tee dress only gets better with wear. Thanks to its luxuriously soft blend of TENCEL™ and organic cotton fabric (hello, sustainability), getting out of bed will be that much harder. Available in six colors.

    Kindle Paperwhite
    Sometimes, you just need a good book to put you to sleep. In fact, according to a study, it only takes six minutes of reading to reduce stress and increase relaxation. With the Kindle, you’ll have thousands of titles at your fingertips to doze off to Snoozeville with. And although it’s a little pricey, it’ll pay for itself in restful nights of sleep.

    Naturally Serious
    C Your Glow Vitamin C Radiance Oil
    Kill two birds with one stone by giving your sleep and face a mini makeover with this hydrating Vitamin C oil. It combines plant-based 2% THD Ascorbate Vitamin C with a concentrated blend of natural oils and extracts. And the result? The reduced appearance of dryness, fine lines, and wrinkles for brighter, more radiant skin (a major glow-up). While the product may not help you sleep through the night, its formula will work its magic while you snooze. 

    The Everygirl’s Guide to Building a Morning and Nighttime Routine That Works Best for You

    This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Equilibria, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    This Product Helps Me Sleep Like a Baby, and I Can’t Stop Recommending It

    Even Beyonce has trouble sleeping, yet when I started struggling with falling and staying asleep, I thought it was just my problem. ​​You see, the phrase, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” has never been something to come out of my mouth. I’ve just never had an issue with getting quality shut-eye. But with work deadlines, personal responsibilities, and, let’s be honest, too much TikTok keeping me up at night, sleeping like a baby became a thing of the past.
    Since sleep is a form of self-care, I made it my mission to get a better night’s sleep. Along the way, I stumbled upon one truly glorious product that I refuse to shut up about: Equilibria’s Sleep Gummies. And I can’t stop recommending them to everyone I know.

    Sleep Gummies
    Sleep Gummies are formulated with CBD, CBN, chamomile, and L-theanine, so falling asleep and staying asleep are easier.
    Use code THEEVERYGIRL for 25% off sitewide at Equilibria—both new and returning customers eligible until end of month! Code stackable with subscription savings

    Why I Tried Equilibria’s Sleep Gummies
    When I started experiencing trouble falling and staying asleep, I did what every person does: I turned down the tea aisle of my grocery store to grab the first box of bedtime tea I could find. I made myself a cozy cup of tea, thinking I was sipping my woes away. Yet, much to my dismay, the tea didn’t do the trick.
    I have friends who swear by melatonin to help them sleep through the night. So, on my next trip to the store, I snagged that. Long story short: I now blame melatonin for sleeping through my alarm, missing my workout class, and getting charged a no-show fee. 
    I never used either of those products again. However, since I’m not a quitter, I did a little more research on how to get better sleep and finally turned to Equilibria’s Sleep Gummies. Equilibria’s products are some of my favorites for managing anxiety, productivity, and mood (shoutout to the Softgels). So, I figured their Sleep Gummies would be a reliable bet.

    My First Impression 
    After getting over my fear of sleeping through another workout class, I took one gummy about an hour before bed, knowing that the onset time was 30-60 minutes. (Tip: The longer you chew your Sleep Gummies, the faster they’ll kick in.) As someone who orders a Dirty Shirley with extra maraschino cherries, I immediately loved the Bordeaux Cherry flavor. In about 45 minutes, I was feeling calmer—which I anticipated since that is how other Equilibria CBD products make me feel—but I was hopeful that they would help me sleep, too.
    And they did. My restfulness subsided, my head hit the pillow, and I was out like a light. The best part? I made it to class on time, feeling refreshed and well-rested. I felt on top of the world after a quality sleep and a workout I didn’t dread waking up for.
    Try them out for yourself and use code THEEVERYGIRL to score 25% off sitewide at Equilibria—new AND returning customers eligible until 9/30! Code also stackable with subscription savings.

    Source: @equilibriawomen

    The Verdict
    After about a week of taking one gummy before bed, I increased my intake to the full serving—two gummies. When I say I didn’t move in the middle of the night, I mean it. You know how sometimes you think you had a good night’s sleep, but you remember rolling a bit or waking up for a second? Well, you haven’t experienced a truly uninterrupted, good night’s sleep until you’ve tried these.
    One thing I know calms me down and helps me feel relaxed is CBD, so I don’t know why I didn’t try Equilibria’s Sleep Gummies sooner. After taking them, I fall asleep easier and sleep better throughout the night. They last 4-8 hours, and I sleep better now than I ever have.
    Equilibria states that their Sleep Gummies “help balance a healthy sleep-wake cycle for a luxurious night’s sleep,” and believe me, I feel like a well-rested, luxury-living queen every morning now. And the flavor? It’s the Bordeaux cherry on top. 

    Sleep Gummies
    Sleep Gummies are formulated with CBD, CBN, chamomile, and L-theanine, so falling asleep and staying asleep are easier.
    Use code THEEVERYGIRL for 25% off sitewide at Equilibria—both new and returning customers eligible until end of month! Code stackable with subscription savings

    5 Things Successful Women Do Before Bedtime

    This post is sponsored by Equilibria, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    I Grilled Top Sleep Experts, and Their Hacks Gave Me the Best Sleep of My Life

    Looking back at my childhood, I can’t understand why I fought my mom on taking naps or going to bed at 8 p.m. Now, naps and getting solid Zzzs are luxuries I would do anything for (anyone else think naps should be implemented into the workday?). With a laundry list of “what-ifs” and to-dos circling my mind, counting sheep doesn’t stand a chance. Then there’s the having-to-pee-every-couple-of-hours scenario that disrupts my beauty sleep. If that sounds familiar, we’re not alone. According to the Casper-Gallup State of Sleep in America 2022 Report, about 84 million adults struggle to get quality shut-eye. 
    So how do we ensure a sound slumber for a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed morning? I consulted four sleep specialists to get to the bottom of it and they let me in on their tried-and-true sleep hacks. Here’s to the best sleep of our lives. 

    In this article

    What does the body need to fall asleep?
    When it comes to catching Zzzs, we may think there’s not much to it other than whether or not we get a good night’s rest. But what goes on internally when we sleep? “Sleep is a complex process of multiple pathways and neurotransmitters in the brain,” explained Dr. Valerie Cacho, MD, a board-certified internal medicine and sleep medicine physician, co-editor of Integrative Sleep Medicine, and founder of Sleephoria. “Simply put, we fall asleep when our brain waves slow down, our muscles relax, and we lose consciousness.” Sounds easy enough, right? It turns out, there are a lot of other factors at play to hit the sleep jackpot (I’m all in). 
    You’ve probably heard of the term “circadian rhythm” but don’t know exactly what it is. Otherwise known as our internal clock and the body’s 24-hour sleep and wake cycle, it plays a vital role in reaching deep sleep. “Not only does it signal us to let our bodies rest, but it also plays a role in our body temperature, heart rate, and hormone regulation,” said Tara Youngblood, CEO and cofounder of Sleepme and sleep coach for the Cincinnati Reds. “We want our circadian rhythm to stay consistent every day,” affirmed Dr. Whitney Roban, PhD, a sleep specialist and founder of Solve Our Sleep. “In doing so, we will have an easier time falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up.”
    Bottom line: “When our circadian rhythm is working well, we’re likely to get restorative sleep and have energy during the day,” explained Morgan Adams, a holistic sleep coach for women and an accredited health coach with advanced certifications in sleep science. “When it’s not working well, you’re at more risk of developing insomnia and being extremely sleepy during the day.”

    What does “quality sleep” mean?
    I think it’s fair to say we all strive for optimal sleep and waking up on the right side of the bed in the morning, but what does that really look like? Sure, the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep for adults, but the key to restful sleep isn’t one-size-fits-all. “While seven to nine hours is the highly prescribed amount of time to sleep each night, think of it as a ‘quality over quantity’ situation,” Youngblood said. “You could be in bed for eight hours but never fully hit your deep sleep stage, which will leave you feeling tired.”
    “Not everybody needs eight hours of sleep,” Adams agreed. In addition to getting the recommended number of hours for your age group, Adams listed other indicators of  quality rest: falling asleep within 30 minutes of getting into bed, having minimal nighttime awakenings, and falling asleep within 20 minutes if you do wake up. “A more subjective way to assess your sleep quality is to check in with how you feel in the morning and during the day,” Adams said. “Is your mood stable? Is your energy level high enough for you to perform at your job? Do you feel well physically? If so, chances are, you’re getting your own personal sleep requirement.”

    Why does getting enough sleep matter?
    There’s no denying that sleep is an essential part of the wellness equation and bears a lot of weight on our mental and physical health. “So many different processes happen while we sleep that keep us healthy (rest, recovery, repair, rejuvenation),” Roban said. “Your brain and body release toxins—which leads to stronger brain health and overall physical health—your body restores energy, the muscles and cells in your body repair and grow, and the information you learned from the day gets processed and stored from short-term memory to long-term memory.” Whether it’s a big presentation for work or running a marathon, getting adequate sleep the night before can make or break the outcome. And—as I can attest—the irritability, anxiety, and difficulty focusing after a night of tossing and turning is enough to make anyone want to cry.
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but lack of sleep can have long-term effects. “Our bodies need to rest, and when we are sleep deprived, we can have problems with our cognition, mental and cardiovascular health, ability to control our metabolism and weight, and even have a higher risk for cancer,” Cacho warned. On the other hand, when we have consistent nights of blissful sleep, Adams cited better brain function, improved emotional regulation, a healthy immune system and weight, and decreased risk of developing chronic diseases. 

    Expert hacks to get the best sleep of your life

    1. Establish a wind-down routine
    Whether you’re part of the WFH club or someone who tends to bring work home, it can be difficult to set boundaries and unplug, leaving your body to wonder when it’s time to start winding down for the night. “A consistent bedtime routine will signal to the brain and body that it is time for sleep,” Roban said. Adams agreed and advised carving out at least 30 minutes for your daily regimen. “During this time, choose activities that aren’t stimulating or involve bright light,” Adams stated. “Some ideas are reading, journaling, meditation, crafts, or chatting about your day with your partner.” Youngblood’s pre-bedtime go-tos are practicing yoga or listening to soft music, like jazz or classical, to relax, relieve stress, and unwind.

    2. Follow a consistent sleep schedule
    Just like any routine, our bodies get used to following a certain sleep pattern. “Our bodies thrive on consistency, and a consistent sleep schedule promotes healthy sleep,” Roban explained. Adams recommended waking up at the same time every morning, even on the weekends. “This helps keep your circadian rhythm strong, and you’re more likely to get sleepy around the same time each night,” she said. Yes, that means going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time every day (even when you have a long-overdue, epic GNO).

    3. Set a food and drink curfew 
    I hate to break it to you, but what you eat affects your sleep. Adams suggested curbing your intake of food and alcohol three to four hours before bed. “Alcohol can disrupt your sleep, especially that critical REM phase where emotional regulation happens,” she said. “Food too close to bedtime can signal wakefulness in the brain, which can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.” If your goal is to be in bed by 10 p.m., try having dinner ready no later than 6:30 p.m. to ensure you have enough time in between your meal and bedtime (meal prep FTW). 

    Roban’s rule of thumb is no caffeine after lunch and no heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime. That’s right: Bidding adieu to your afternoon pick-me-up and favorite nightcap is the sacrifice we have to make for a good snooze. According to Roban, fatty and spicy foods are also a no-no before bed. We’ve all learned that the hard way. 

    4. Incorporate movement in your day  
    If you’re anything like me, you need to work out to relieve stress, feel balanced, and get a solid night’s rest. Aside from boosting your self-esteem and mental and physical health, Cacho explained that getting your body physically tired promotes quality sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, moderate-to-vigorous exercise can increase sleep quality for adults by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and decrease the amount of time they lie awake in bed during the night. 
    As for whether working out within hours before going to sleep is detrimental to your quality of sleep is up for debate. Like I said, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sleep. So exercise at the time of day (or night) and intensity that works best for you. Only you know what feels best for your body and sleep. 

    5. Keep your sleeping environment cool
    As someone who runs hot, this sleep hack is preaching to the choir (sorry to my boyfriend—I win). “Your core body temperate needs to cool down by a couple of degrees to fall and stay asleep,” Adams said. The optimal room temperature for healthy sleep? Youngblood suggested keeping your sleeping quarters between 65°F and 72°F. If the temperature is too hot or cold, it may affect the natural drop in your body’s internal temperature at night and cause you to have disrupted sleep. 
    To stay cool during the night, you might consider sleeping in breathable sheets, keeping a cool glass of water on your nightstand, and wearing lightweight cotton pajamas (if sleeping in your birthday suit feels the most comfortable, by all means!). 

    6. Get sunlight first thing in the morning 
    Vitamin D not only gives you that just-came-back-from-Hawaii glow, but it also does your sleep good. Cacho suggested soaking it in up to 30 minutes within an hour of waking up. “This is the signal our brains need to tell us to be awake and start the day,” she said. Getting morning sun exposure can be as simple as taking your coffee out on your balcony or your dog out for a walk around the neighborhood. “A 15-minute burst of natural light helps regulate key hormones, melatonin and cortisol, for the rest of the day into the evening,” Adams said. She suggested getting direct sunlight sans sunglasses, as it loses its effect when filtered. What’s more, exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the calming and mood-boosting hormone serotonin. I rest my case. 

    Please consult a doctor or a mental health professional before beginning any treatments. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

    I Just Had the Best Sleep of My Entire Life—I Credit These 5 Products More

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    Tired of Feeling Tired? Here Are 10 Ways To Get Better Sleep by Tomorrow

    One thing is true: I love to sleep. I mean, who doesn’t? It’s the new self-care. But when I am on a streak of not sleeping well, I truly start to despise bedtime because I assume it’s going to result in waking up frequently, tossing and turning, and ultimately, not being as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I want to be in the morning. Read: waking up puffy and irritable. Sadly, no ice roller I’ve tried has been able to fix week-long sleep-deprived face swelling, so I’ve made it my mission to do my research on how to wake up more well-rested, which has resulted in me trying some popular tips for getting better sleep. Just like anything, some worked and some definitely didn’t, so I am sharing the 10 ways that actually work and can help you get better sleep by tomorrow.

    1. Take CBD before bed
    You know how much we love CBD for anxiety, productivity, and mood, but we also love how effective it is during bedtime. According to Equilibria, our go-to source for high-quality CBD products, “CBD works with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to support homeostasis, which in turn may balance other areas of your well-being, such as maintaining healthy sleep and wake cycles.” Simply put, it can help you feel calmer and at ease when you are winding down, which in turn can result in better sleep.
    Equilibria’s Sleep Gummies are our favorite because they are formulated with their high-quality CBD along with CBN and a botanical blend of chamomile and L-theanine, which help women combat restlessness and unwelcome thoughts at night. Talk about a total game changer. Try them out for yourself and use code THEEVERYGIRL for 20% off your first order at Equilibria!

    Sleep Gummies
    Sleep Gummies are formulated with CBD, CBN, chamomile, and L-theanine, so falling asleep and staying asleep are easier.
    Use code THEEVERYGIRL for 20% off your first order at Equilibria!

    2. Incorporate breathwork or meditation
    Do you feel like your mind is always racing when your head hits the pillow? You’re not alone. The stress of the day is hard to shake off sometimes! One effective way to relax your mind and body before bed (or really at any time of the day) is by incorporating breathing exercises and/or meditation. According to the Sleep Foundation, research shows that meditation and breathwork “can help improve insomnia, and may even improve sleep quality.” Not sure where to start? Download an app! There are so many options that you can try depending on which method you are most interested in.

    Guided Breathing App
    The Breathwrk app is the #1 breathing app with more than 1 million users worldwide. They offer guided breathing exercises for falling asleep, easing anxiety, and waking up.

    Mindful Meditation App
    Headspace offers meditations for sleep, stress, and mindfulness. With over 70 million members and 600k+ reviews, it’s one of the best.

    3. Exercise during the day 
    I know what you’re thinking: Do I have to? But hear me out. The good news here is that you don’t have to run a marathon in the name of getting a good night of rest. Even engaging in just 30 minutes of aerobic activity throughout the day can lead to more slow-wave sleep (read: deep sleep) during the night and can help you decompress so that when it’s time for bed, you’ll have an easier time falling asleep. So roll out that yoga mat, get those steps in, or pick up a light set of weights—you’ll thank me tomorrow morning.

    4. Lower your body temperature
    I despise being cold—like I get straight-up cranky if I am chilly—but I can’t deny that I feel like I get a better night’s sleep when I am a little colder. Sleep Advisor’s Thermoregulation Guide breaks down how body temperature regulation works while we are sleeping and sheds light on how a drop in body temperature can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your REM sleep. To reap the benefits of this, turn your thermostat down to 65 degrees before you start winding down or invest in bedding that has cooling technology.

    Cooling Bedding Bundle
    Percale sheets make your whole bed feel like “the cool side of your pillow,” according to Brooklinen. *Adds to cart*

    5. Swap screen time with reading
    I have to admit something I am not proud of: I am #guilty of scrolling through my Instagram feed or watching episodes of Schitt’s Creek until the moment I close my eyes. But honestly, most of us are. We have all heard about the negative effects of blue light, but one of the major reasons to limit screen time (especially before bed) is because of the effect that it has on our production of melatonin. With that said, the National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding electronics in the hours leading up to bedtime.
    Instead, try picking up a book and lulling yourself to sleep with a light read. If you’re antsy before bed or not ready for sleep, reading can help promote a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind. In a 2021 online study, reading before bed was linked to improved sleep quality, which is a good argument to swap screen time for reading. Here are some light reads that our team has been loving lately:

    Taylor Jenkins Reid
    The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
    This one is an editor favorite for multiple reasons, but our Branded Content Editor Ashley loved reading this one before bed. The story is glamorous, characters are complex, and chapters are short, which makes it a great read to escape into and put down once the Zzzz’s take over.

    Emily Henry
    People We Meet on Vacation
    A lot of our team members hold this read close to their hearts and for good reason. This friends-to-lovers romance serves up all of the escapism and wanderlust our hearts desire but is low stakes enough that it won’t keep us up until 2 a.m. with nail-biting cliffhangers.

    6. Avoid eating late at night
    While the idea of a late-night snack can be overwhelmingly tempting, according to Alexis Supan, a registered dietitian from the Cleveland Clinic, eating late at night goes directly against our body’s circadian rhythm. “It’s best to stop eating about three hours before going to bed,” she noted. “That allows plenty of time for your body to digest the last food you ate so it won’t disrupt your sleep but leaves a small enough window before sleep that you won’t go to bed feeling hungry.” This way, while we’re getting into sleep mode, our digestive system can rest along with the rest of our mind and body.

    7. Use blue light-blocking glasses
    If avoiding screens at night isn’t always an option for you because you study or work late (or you like to read on a Kindle), make sure that you utilize nighttime mode and/or wear blue light-blocking glasses. On most devices, you can adjust your display settings to make your screen a yellowish tone, which is much easier on your eyes and has little to no effect on your circadian rhythm. I actually have the nighttime mode set to be on all day on both my computer and my phone, and I wear blue light-blocking glasses daily. I highly, highly recommend doing both!

    8. Limit caffeine consumption
    I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out: You can do this. I am not saying give up your coffee and tea altogether (I would never do that to you), but I am suggesting that limiting your caffeine intake can improve your sleep. Caffeine can have a disruptive effect on your sleep and reduce your total sleep time, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, so it is recommended to avoid caffeine during the second half of the day. Opt for caffeine-free tea or decaf coffee if you want to sip on something but still want to feel well-rested, and reach for a sleepy tea at night.

    Celestial Seasonings
    Sleep Tea
    There are so many sleepy teas at grocery stores and online, but this is one of my favorites. If you like mint, you will love this organic tea with melatonin.

    9. Limit naps throughout the day
    Listen, I love a good nap as much as the next gal, but the reality is that when midday snoozes are prolonged or frequent, it can have a negative impact on nighttime sleep. The next time you find yourself fighting that middle-of-the-day, post-lunchtime slump, try resisting the urge to snuggle up and escape the daytime by drinking an ice-cold glass of water, doing a light workout, getting some sunlight by going outside, or using a light therapy lamp.

    10. Maximize your sleep environment
    If there’s one area that you have the most control over when it comes to getting better sleep, it’s maximizing the environment that you’re snoozing in. According to the CDC, a “good” sleep environment is one that is dark, cool, comfortable, and quiet. And while you can’t always control street lamp placement outside of your bedroom window or a train that might pass in the night, you can make adjustments to your space to make it a sleep oasis. Consider getting your hands on a sleep mask or blackout curtains to promote darkness and a noise machine or earplugs to keep things quiet. We promise: You’ll never regret investing in your sleep space.

    Blackout Curtains
    Our nurse-turned-editor swears by blackout curtains for the deepest sleep of all time, ever. When she used to work nights as an emergency nurse, these curtains were such a life saver for making even the brightest of days feel like nighttime.

    3-Pack of Sleep Masks
    Because you can’t always have blackout curtains on the go, these lightweight sleep masks are the perfect solution for blocking out light when you’re traveling or away from home. Kept awake by the glow of the microwave light? Couldn’t be us.

    White Noise Machine
    If you’re trying to drown out external noises that might wake you from sleep (we’re looking at you, middle-of-the-night choo-choo-train), then you absolutely need a white noise machine in your life. This one from Marpac is a tried-and-true team favorite and is also portable so you can take it with you wherever you go.

    Even Beyoncé Has Trouble Sleeping: 7 Expert-Backed Tips To Get the Best Sleep of Your Life

    This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Equilibria, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    4 Ways To Get Better Quality Sleep. Plus, WIN With Sloom

    Struggling to get those precious ZZZ’s? You’re not alone. 1 in 14 South Africans suffer from insomnia according to a Human Sciences Research Council study. But, to become your healthiest self, sleep has to be at the forefront of your wellness routine. This is why it’s so important to improve sleep quality.
    And although it might feel like there is nothing to be done when you’re counting sheep, there are actually a few things you can do to get better quality sleep.
    But first, what causes insomnia?
    The answer isn’t always simple. But, all that tossing and turning can often be linked to underlying problems with your lifestyle, environment, or overall health. When it comes to your environment, there are a few things you can do to make a positive difference.
    Here are 4 things you can do to improve sleep quality right now
    1. Cool it!
    Are you one of those people who loves feeling the heat and getting cozy when you get into bed? That might be part of the reason you’re struggling to get quality sleep. In fact, A National Sleep Foundation poll found that a cool room temp was one of the most important factors in getting a good night’s sleep.
    According to doctors, the best temperature to sleep is approximately 18.3°C. So it might be time to send your heaters and electric blankets on vacay for a bit. Sorry!

    2. Stay In The Dark
    Think that crack beneath your door or semi-sheer curtains aren’t doing too much damage? Think again! Being exposed to light at night may be linked to depression, anxiety, and obesity. And of course, it impacts the quality of your sleep. Exposure to light actually blocks the production of melatonin, which then interrupts your sleep cycle.
    So when you turn off the lights, look for any spots where light is creeping in. Buy black-out curtains, and cover any other spaces where light creeps through. That includes putting stickers over that flashing WiFi router light and if you live with other people roll up a towel and place it at the bottom of the door.
    3. Get Moving
    Yip, that’s right. Exercising really can help improve sleep quality. Recent research has found that exercise decreases sleep complaints as well as insomnia. Plus, it was found that moderate-to-vigorous exercise could improve sleep quality by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. Say cheers to counting sheep!
    Not sure where to start? Try this 25 minute Total-Body HIIT workout.

    4. Make Your Bed, And Lie In It!
    It might seem like a lie that you tell yourself when you’re buying cute bedding or a new mattress, but what you’re sleeping on actually does impact your sleep. Research has shown that sleeping on a good mattress with adjustable firmness, promotes comfort, proper spinal alignment, and quality sleep.
    That’s why we love Sloom. They’re a South African brand that aims to give you the best night’s sleep without any of the confusion or frustration that often comes with buying a new mattress or pillows. They are really well known for their customisable and adjustable mattress that you can change on the fly. And now, they’ve upped the ante with a new product (spoiler alert: you can win it!)
    Ever heard of a height adjustable memory foam pillow? Sloom will soon be launching this first-of-its-kind in SA to help you get quality sleep. The good news is that you could win 2 of these pillows, valued at R1 200, before the official launch.
    How do you enter?
    It’s so easy!
    1. Make sure that you are following us on instagram @womenshealthmagsa and Then fill in your details here.3. The winner will be chosen randomly.4. To be eligible for the prize, you must be over 18 and a South African resident.5. The winner will be randomly selected and notified.

    READ MORE ON: Sleep wellness Win More