Many people suffer from lack of sleep and most of them are not necessarily aware of it. Sleep is an essential part of living a healthy and happy life. Most of us know how short our thread is when we have not gotten enough sleep, we are more irritable and our attention span is shorter as well. But did you know that people that don't sleep enough have a harder time losing weight? Neither did I until I started studying more about the effects of this one thing we all do, called sleep. Lately I have gotten quite obsessed about getting a good quality sleep.

So here are my 3 steps towards getting great, quality sleep;

The first step I suggest is the importance of tapering down a couple of hours before sleep. The important thing is to get your brainwave activity to adjust for quiet and rest. So, stimulants such as caffeine are to be avoided. But also we should taper off on online activity, media and entertainment and power down personal computers. I stop browsing social media sites early so as to give myself time to settle and relax. As for my smart phone, I started this simple habit a few years ago – I set my phone to automatically filter all calls from 10 pm until 7 am so as to not disturb me with a ringtone. The only time I change this is if my daughter goes to a friend's house for a sleepover. I do have a landline, so in the event of an emergency those that are closest to me are able to reach me, but they know only to use that number for emergencies. Other than that, those nine hours are non-existent for cell phone calls and interruptions.

The second step is to relax. A hot bath does wonders. I like to add a couple of drops of lavender oil and Epson salts into it. Lavender essential oil has relaxing effects on both body and mind and Epson salts have been used for centuries due to the high content of magnesium. During your bath, focus on your breath. How does it flow in and out of your body? What is its rhythm like? Objective observation of your breath will help calm your mind and adjust your brainwave activity. Following a soothing bath, make yourself a nice herbal tea (Sleepy Time), put on some comfy pyjamas that you love and get ready for bed.

The third step is to take magnesium supplements before bed. I cannot tell you the difference it has made in my sleep. It has worked wonders to say the least. I used to sleep somewhere between 5-6 hours but since I started taking magnesium before bed, I sleep like a baby for 7-8 hours easily. Unbelievable the difference it makes. Magnesium is incredible for aiding with relaxation as well as minimizing stress responses. It helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. And here's another thing – it actually helps with energy (but not like a stimulant like caffeine). This energy is actually responsible for helping the body transition into a restful state.

If you follow these simple three steps, you should be off to a good restful sleep. Quality sleep is essential for feeling good, it is going to give you more energy, help you loose weight, help you better concentrate, and overall affect all areas of your life, in a positive way. I use an activity-tracking app to monitor my sleep (and my activity throughout the day) and I am very interested in monitoring the data, playing around with slight changes in routine, and seeing what habits result in better quality sleep. My Nokia Health watch does exactly that for me. 

A tip for travelling: Melatonin is a natural hormone, something that I take with me on travels but lately I have been preferring Sleep Now from Herbalife. These are both great and absolutely fine to use, as our natural clock doesn't always agree with the time zone we are in, so we need to help it adjust to a different time schedule. Both of these are good for that.

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