Saturday, January 9, 2010

Easy to Get to Sleep

Sometimes it is not easy to get to sleep and the affects of many nights of sleep deprivation can cause you to become over-stressed and even over-weight. Here are a few tips and techniques that will help you to get the rest you deserve.

Tip 1: If you go to bed on a full stomach this can cause you to have poor quality sleep for a few reasons; one being that it takes time to digest the food and can give you indigestion while excess food can create a breathing problem if the stomach juices enter into your esophagus which is known as acid reflux. Acid reflux can exacerbate sleep apnea and can cause heart burn. Many people that suffer from acid reflux take medication and sleep with their heads propped up. If you are experiencing occasional acid reflux try to stop eating 3-4 hours before bedtime. This will allow your food to properly digest and minimize the stomach acids (such as; bile, digestive enzymes and bacteria) from coming up into your throat.

Note: If you feel you have chronic acid reflux or GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease a doctor’s visit should be in order to get the prescribed medication required to eliminate or reduce your symptoms before you have other health concerns. GERD is not a matter one should take lightly as it can cause Barrett’s esophagus which is a precancerous condition. Your doctor may suggest an exam of your esophagus to see if it is brown which is a symptom of GERD. Barrett’s esophagus can only be diagnosed using an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy to obtain biopsies of the esophagus. In an upper GI endoscopy, after the patient is sedated, the doctor inserts a flexible tube called an endoscope, which has a light and a miniature camera, into the esophagus. If the tissue appears suspicious, the doctor removes several small pieces using a pincher-like device that is passed through the endoscope. A pathologist examines the tissue with a microscope to determine the diagnosis. Improvement in GERD symptoms may lower the risk of developing Barrett’s Esophagus. A surgical procedure may be recommended if medications are not effective in treating GERD.

Tip 2: Research has also found that short or ‘power’ naps taken regularly can reduce heart disease and dying. If you love to nap, try not to sleep longer than 30 minutes as this should give you enough time to feel energized upon waking. Longer naps usually interfere with our sleep as we tend to go to bed after our normal night time because we don’t feel ready to sleep. Taking a power nap before 4pm should allow you to keep to your nightly routine.

If you have OSA or obstructive sleep apnea taking shorter naps will limit your symptoms due to the fact that it takes 90-120 minutes to reach REM sleep as this is the time when your muscles relax the most and you will experience obstructive actions.

Tip 3: Invest in some deep breathing CDs or other sleep aides. People that take yoga, tai chi and/or any other discipline classes that teach deep breathing techniques experience a significant calming to their nervous system and feel much more relaxed.

If you don’t have the extra money to buy a CD…when you go to bed try taking 4 – 5 slow deep breaths and exhale with a decreasing count of 8 8,7, …2, 1. This not only helps you to relax it also will reduce your heart rate. Concentrating on something other than your daily stress will help you to get to sleep easier. Other methods may be listening to sleep music such as instrumental, classical, easy listening or even a rain storm or waves on a beach. White noise not only helps you to relax it eliminates external noises. A fan is also a simple solution to eliminating outside noises.

Tip 4: Not only do we lay in bed thinking about our to-do-list we also are processing all our experiences we encountered during the day. Otherwise our mind is racing as it tries to process all that information. Outside sources such as TV, video games or searching the web right before bedtime can lead to information overload. It is a good idea to give yourself an hour before you retire to prepare your mind and body that it is time to go to sleep. Turn off outside influences and take a bath, read a book, write in a journal and/or have some decaffeinated herbal tea. The world and all its electronic gadgets will still be there in the morning.

Tip 5: Your body has its own sleep/wake cycle that is controlled by hormones. Early morning sunlight is the best time to expose yourself to the light and it helps strengthen your internal sleep clock. Also exposing yourself to natural sunlight will only maximize the benefits of vitamin D and calcium supplements. If you exercise, this is the best time as exercising late at night will only keep you awake longer because your increased heart rate and body temperature. If you do like to exercise after dinner, give yourself enough time (usually 2-3 hours) to cool down before retiring.

I hope these 5 tips help you to find it easy to get to sleep. As always if you are experiencing other health issues because you can’t sleep at night contact your physician as he may prescribe medication or an alternative route such as a sleep clinic to help you sleep easy.

GERD resource; http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/barretts/
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