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Many people believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle comes down to a regular workout schedule combined with solid nutrition. While both of these are necessary, people too often forget the third factor that is just as important: sleep. You could be doing everything right with your diet and workout plan, and still find yourself struggling to make any progress if you are sleep deprived (getting under seven hours of sleep). Sleep deprivation causes slower fat burning, stunted muscle growth, and increased cravings for unhealthy food. Here are some strategies you can use to fall asleep faster, and maximize the results of your diet and exercise.

Reserve Your Bed Only for Sleep

You likely associate different places with different activities, such as the dining room for eating and the gym for exercise. If you spend time on your bed doing things other than sleeping, such as checking your phone or watching shows, you are training your brain to associate your bed with stimulating activities. If you save your time in your bed for when it is time to sleep, it can greatly help your mind and body feel calm and relaxed.

Try Forcing Yourself to Stay Awake

This is an example of reverse psychology that really works. People can often build up anxiety in their heads with the pressure of trying to fall asleep, causing a problem that feeds on itself. By distracting yourself from this pressure by trying to keep your eyes open to stay awake, you end up naturally feeling more relaxed and ready to fall asleep.

Keep Your Room Cool

When the brain releases melatonin, the chemical that triggers sleep, your body naturally decreases in temperature slightly. If your room is left at a warmer temperature, you are likely to feel uncomfortable, making falling sleep difficult. Keeping your room between 60 and 67 degrees will be an optimal temperature to help you sleep soundly.

Try Taking Your Showers at Night

Many people find the act of taking a hot shower to be very relaxing. In addition to this, when you have warmed up your body and step into cool air, your body temperature decreases quicker. The increased speed of the drop in body temperature slows metabolism quickly, preparing your mind and body for sleep. Making this a routine helps create a stronger association, and can make falling asleep easier as time goes on.

Use the Scent of Lavender

Lavender is a highly accessible scent that naturally relaxes the mind and body and helps with sleep. You can use a diffuser with lavender essential oils, use lavender body lotion before bed, or perhaps even spray your pillow with a lavender scent.

Use the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

This breathing exercise is very simple, and has been known to help people fall asleep in a minute. Simply breath in through your nose while counting to four, hold your breath while counting to seven, and breath out, with your lips pursed to make a whoosh sound, while counting to eight. This method of breathing allows more oxygen in the blood stream, triggering the parasympathetic nervous system which causes your heart rate to lower and your body to relax.