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3 Easy Tricks for Better Sleep and Brain Health

3-tricks-better-sleep-and-brain-health

If you struggle with fatigue and brain fog, I’m going to tell you something you already know.

How you feel is just as important as how you look. In fact, how you feel may be MORE important.

You can walk into a wedding reception, for example, wearing your best clothes. But if you’re physically and mentally worn out, that’s all that people are going to notice. On the other hand, if you’re feeling refreshed and sharp, you could likely wear sweats and a T-shirt to give a big business presentation, and all people will remember is how “on fire” you were. Energy and sharpness don’t just make life feel more amazing. They’re key advantages in an increasingly competitive world where first impressions count.

The trouble is, we’re surrounded every day by things that work against a good night’s sleep and make brain fog worse:

  • anxiety, stress or depression
  • the constant distraction of technology
  • simple temperature or barometric changes
  • food additives like sugar and MSG
  • erratic meal times and eating patterns

The good news: You don’t have to lose sleep over how to get better sleep. And you don’t have to pound your head against a table trying to figure out how to get rid of brain fog.

These 3 easy tricks will perk you up in no time.

Lose That Muffin Top

loose-muffin-top

Losing unwanted belly flab doesn’t just make you look better and decrease your risk of hypertension and heart disease. Losing belly fat will help you sleep better, and here’s the GREAT news:

Studies show that you can lose weight AND get a better night’s sleep without doing painful ab crunches.

In studies by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, researchers recruited 77 overweight volunteers who had sleep problems. Half of the volunteers went on a diet and exercise program for six months. The other half just went on a diet for the same amount of time. At the end of the study, volunteers in both groups lost an average of 15 pounds, reduced belly fat by 15% and experienced better sleep.

The reason comes down to obstructive sleep apnea, a temporary blockage of airways during sleep by excess fat. This blockage causes frequent waking at night, and daytime fatigue isn’t the only result. Sleep apnea also increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.

Excess weight can also cause restless leg syndrome, a sleep disorder where the urge to move your legs at night is irresistible. According to research by Harvard University School of Public Health, overweight Americans are at a 40% higher risk of developing restless leg syndrome.

While any healthy weight-loss diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, fruits like apples, pears and blueberries are great choices to put your weight loss into high gear. They’re low in calories but rich in soluble fiber, which makes you feel full and satisfied. On top of that, apples, pears and blueberries contain small amounts of Chlorogenic Acid, an ester of caffeic acid that promotes weight loss by helping to control blood-sugar levels.

Green unroasted coffee beans contain higher concentrations of Chlorogenic Acid than other food sources. So they promote healthy weight loss at a faster rate than foods like apples and pears. While some weight-loss sources say that roasted coffee contains trace amounts of Chlorogenic Acid, other sources like the American Chemical Society say that roasting destroys Chlorogenic Acid in coffee beans.

Make Healthy Eating a Regular Habit

healthy-eating-habit

If you can’t remember the last time you ate healthy meals consistently, you have the evidence you need to see how uneven eating habits can lead to brain fog.

Your metabolism is like a furnace that burns calories and oxygen to produce energy. Stoking your furnace consistently with healthy foods at regular meal intervals keeps your metabolism running at peak efficiency. When you starve yourself (as some dieters do), or eat here and there on the go, or choose unhealthy snacks and fast foods, your metabolism stalls. Your energy fades, and tiredness weakens your ability to focus.

Compounding this, foods have a DIRECT impact on your brain. Multiple studies have found a correlation, for example, between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function. Studies also show a connection between high-sugar diets and mood disorders like depression.

In other words, by choosing healthy nutritious foods, you can literally eat your way to sharper focus and better brain health. Indeed, it’s the cornerstone of a burgeoning new field of medicine called nutritional psychiatry.

If you don’t know how to start getting your diet into shape, check out the Make Small Changes page on the USDA’s MyPlate website, which offers all kinds of healthy eating solutions for everyday life, including:

  • Eating on a Budget (under Popular Topics)
  • Burning Calories (under Physical Activity)
  • Choosing Foods and Beverages (under Healthy Eating Style)

The main thing to remember is consistency. By regularly eating wholesome foods, you keep your metabolism—and your brain—running at its best.

Drink Regular Brewed Coffee

coffee

Love it or hate it, coffee is a refreshing and simple way to burn fat for better sleep and boost mental sharpness because coffee contains caffeine.

As the world’s most consumed natural stimulant, caffeine has made its way into many commercial weight-loss supplements for good reason. Potent and well-studied, caffeine is one of the few substances known to help break down fat and burn it by increasing metabolism. In one study published by the American Journal of Physiology, coffee consumption was shown to increase fat-burning in obese test subjects by 10%. In another study published in the journal Psychological Reports, researchers from Hamline University in Minnesota discovered that college students scored higher on a mental recall test after ingesting caffeine compared to other students who took a placebo.

The key to improving mental focus and optimizing sleep through the fat-burning strength of coffee begins with the kind of coffee you choose. And that’s where it can get difficult.

A Venti Starbucks Caffé Latte, for example, is certainly a tempting and tasty caffeine shot. Yet a non-fat Caffé Latte packs 170 calories, which can pack back on the weight your body is trying to burn. By comparison, a Venti cup of Starbucks Dark Roast Brewed Coffee only contains 5 calories (without cream or sugar). But the same cup has 340mg of caffeine (190mg more than a Venti non-fat Caffé Latte). And too much caffeine can work against mental focus by causing anxiety, restlessness and withdrawal headaches. To make matters worse, most coffee shops offer dozens of different coffee preparations but little nutritional information. So you can never really be sure how many calories and how much caffeine you’re getting.

As a rough safety guideline, the U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends a maximum daily consumption of 250mg of caffeine for adults. That’s roughly two to three 8-oz. cups of regular brewed coffee. The Mayo Clinic considers anything over 600mg of caffeine a day to be unsafe.

The best time to drink coffee appears to be in the morning. According to studies by the Henry Ford Sleep Research Center and Wayne State University School of Medicine, caffeine consumption before 2 p.m. did not significantly impact sleep. Yet caffeine consumption even six hours before bed reduced total sleep by 1 hour.

For all the weight-loss benefits of coffee without the anxiety, jitters and habituation of caffeine, choose a daily nutritional supplement that uses only the best form of Chlorogenic Acid. As a natural compound extracted from green coffee beans, Chlorogenic Acid is not caffeine but delivers weight-loss results more powerfully while boosting energy. So you sleep better and feel sharper.


Wishing you good health through wise nutrition.
matt

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