This Pantry Staple Can Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep
A recent study showed that 40 percent of Americans don't get enough sleep. The average U.S. sleeper only clocks in 6.8 hours a night, as compared to the recommended 7-9 hours. Missing shut eye every once in awhile is okay, but over time sleep deprivation can wreck havoc on your health and up your risk for obesity, stroke, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and even premature death.
The hard part is that many of us want to get to sleep at a regular time, but we just can't seem to relax. Between the stress of our work days, managing a family, and, okay, mindlessly scrolling on social media, it can be hard to turn off our brains long enough to fully slip into dreamland. If you hop into bed and your inner dialogue immediately starts rattling through your to-do list, you need this tip.
Several of our staffers swear by this inexpensive trick for better breathing. Save your money on aromatherapy candles and relaxation tea — all you'll need for a great night's sleep is a 5-pound bag of rice. Make sure the bag is large enough to cover your torso. Lie in your bed on your back and get comfortable. Take a few breaths, and watch how your belly expands and falls as you breathe in and out.
After a few moments, take your bag of rice and place it on your torso just below your rib cage. The weight of the rice bag will cause your exhalation to become a bit labored — resist this by slowing your exhales to match your inhales. For a few moments, take notice of the bag of rice moving as you breathe in and out. Once you become tired, remove the rice bag and breathe normally. You'll probably notice that deep breaths take less effort, and you feel way more relaxed.
You may think this sounds gimmicky, but this type of breathing is backed by science. Intentional, meditative breathing elicits a physical "relaxation response" in your body — causing your heart rate to slow, your blood pressure to drop, and your muscles to relax.
The American Institute of Stress says a few minutes of breathing exercises each day will reduce your stress and anxiety levels and help you get to sleep faster. So, what are you waiting for? After a few bucks and a few breaths, you could be sleeping like a baby tonight.