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We all know that regular exercise and a balanced diet can lead to improvements in our general quality of life. But have you ever thought about how diet and exercise affect sleep? More than a third of American adults do not get enough sleep on a regular basis, leading to an increased risk in developing chronic conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, and diabetes.

The good news is that there are a few easy, non-medical solutions for most cases of poor sleep. A 2010 study by the National Institutes of Health suggests that cardiovascular exercise can be an effective treatment for improving sleep in adults with insomnia. There are a couple reasons why this may be.

First, even a short workout increases and then decreases your body temperature, enhancing sleep. Also, some symptoms of insomnia can be reduced from exercise through the release of endorphins and increase in serotonin and dopamine levels, making you feel less tired. Finally, exercise can shift your circadian rhythm, helping you wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night. 

There are also some dietary guidelines that can affect your sleep, the most obvious being avoiding caffeine and alcohol. If you can’t go without your daily cup o’ Joe, you should at least refrain from caffeinated products within the eight hours before you plan to go to bed. Similarly, a nice glass of wine before bed may make us feel drowsy, but it actually reduces REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, without which we are more likely to wake up feeling fatigued.

Additionally, spicy or fatty foods should be avoided before bed. These foods cause indigestion and heartburn, which can make it more difficult for our bodies to relax before bedtime. On the other hand, foods that naturally contain tryptophan—the amino acid that makes up melatonin and serotonin—such as cheese, almonds, pumpkin seeds, asparagus, and olives can promote sleep. It turns out mom was right all along: the tryptophan found in a warm glass of milk can help you fall asleep.

Finally, no good night of sleep can be complete without a good mattress. If you’re waking up feeling achy and sore, it may be time to replace your mattress. 

Visit Mancini’s Sleepworld, where experts can help you find the best high quality mattress to get your best night of sleep.

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