7 Steps to Picking the Best Doctor

BetterDoctor has created a 10-variable, data-driven algorithm to help determine the best doctors based on factors like medical school quality, quality of residency, years of experience and referrals from other doctors.  But how do you pick between all of the 5-star doctors out there?  Which is the best doctor for your medical needs, communication style and availability?

We put together a list of steps to choosing a doctor from those who know best: doctors themselves. (more…)

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Sleep Hacking Tips - Quote by Jim Butcher

5 Easy Life Hacks for Better Sleep

better sleep hacks god jim butcher

You know how kids start screaming when they get tired and that’s how we know it’s time to put them to sleep? As adults, we also become irritated, prone to mistakes and stressed when we haven’t slept for a while – we’ve only learned to contain our screaming since we were children.

Why quality sleep is important

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” – Mahatma Gandhi

One of the most crucial parts of our overall health is undeniably sleep. Studies suggest that when we don’t get enough sleep, we eat more, our blood sugar is higher and we experience more stress. Many people start losing weight when they begin sleeping better.

Especially if you’re trying to make changes in your health habits, no amount of exercise and salads will replace a good night’s sleep. In fact, all the good work you’ve done to stay healthy might be jeopardized by too little or low quality sleep.

How to sleep better

Luckily there are easy ways to sleep better that you can try tonight.

1. Eat more protein

A recent study has shown that a high-protein diet allows people to sleep better and wake up less during the night than high-carb diets. Even switching your meals so that you start your day with a protein-rich breakfast like an omelet and save the carbohydrates (oatmeal, bread, pancakes) for the evening, makes a difference. Most of us tend to feel sleepy after eating carbs – hence the afternoon post-lunch dip.

2. Embrace darkness

The obvious tip that comes as a surprise to many is that you should sleep in total darkness. Our eyes are very sensitive and can recognize just one tiny photon of light. Even when the eyes are closed, a little light can disturb deep sleep.

Make sure you don’t have electronic devices close to you when you sleep. Better yet, keep computers in a different room. Put your phone in airplane mode. Some people are more sensitive to electromagnetic fields than others, but there’s no reason to keep a phone next to your head at all times.

3. Sleep at the same time

Catching up on sleep during weekends is not enough, as tempting as it may feel. Making a habit of going to sleep around the same time every night pays off and reduces the risk of weight gain, for example. Make sleep a priority and set a schedule you can follow both during the week and weekend. The body will get used to it.

4. Meditate, relax

Do things that help you relax before you go to sleep: meditation, reading, taking a walk, writing a diary or a gratitude journal. Make the process of going to bed pleasant instead of forcing yourself to sleep. Peaceful activities like this become a ritual that prepare your mind and body to dream.

5. Turn off all screens

Many people don’t realize how much the constant screen-staring affects your brain. Turn off all screens a hour or half an hour before going to bed: computers, TV, phones – yes, really. If you stare at lights in the evening, your brain will think the sun is rising. How good is that for helping you sleep? You can use a screen-coloring software like f.lux if you need to be on the computer late into the evening.

What about supplements?

If you feel like supplements would be a good option, make sure you get them in good quality. Magnesium, melatonin, vitamin D and inositol are among the easiest ones to start with.

Magnesium: Actually, most Americans do not get nearly enough magnesium from their food. It calms the nervous system and helps muscles relax, supporting deeper sleep.

Melatonin: It’s a hormone that the body releases when it starts to get dark. It makes you sleepy. You can get it from pharmacies over the counter.

Vitamin D: A study of people with insomnia showed that taking 20.000 IU of vitamin D weekly improved the quality of sleep immediately and made the sleep cycle normal in a few months.

Inositol: A nutrient that activates chemical pathways in the brain that are calming. Taken 45 minutes before hitting the sack, it helps you sleep.

Why was sleep important again?

To learn more about why sleep is important, watch this amazing TED Talk by neuroscientist Russell Foster.

What are your best strategies for a good night’s sleep? Let us know in the comments!

The main inspiration for this post is Charles Poliquin, the strength guru who trains some of the world’s best athletes. 

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