Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sleep Easy

7 (seven) tips and techniques to sleep easy:

1. Your bedroom is for sleep and intimacy only. Turn off the TV, video games and computer. Turning off everything that creates light is important for your body to produce melatonin. Melatonin regulates the body’s wake/sleep cycle or circadian rhythms. Make sure your windows are either covered by heavy drapes or blinds to keep the outside streetlights from streaming in your room. If you can’t control external noises drown them out with a fan, sleep music or white noise. Keep your room temperature at around 65 degrees, as this will keep you from getting to warm during the night. If your room is too dry it will cause you to become congested and it’s recommended to have a humidifier as this will moisturize the air as well as your airway passages.

2. Start a nighttime routine as this will prepare your mind and body every night that you are about to retire. Take a warm bath (too hot as this will increase your heart rate), read a book, get your comfy pajamas on, have a cup of Sleepytime decaffeinated tea or warm glass of milk and go to bed at a designated hour every night. That means weekends too.

3. Don’t eat a lot or drinking alcohol right before bedtime. Eating a lot may cause indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux. If you like to have a late night snack stick to foods that are rich of tryptophan such as milk, cereal, turkey, seeds or nuts. Tryptophan is known to cause drowsiness. That’s why we get lethargic after a holiday meal. Alcohol may put you to sleep, but also may wake you up during the night. According to

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and acts as a sedative. It may help you fall asleep, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes you to wake up in the middle of the night. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, say no thanks to the after-dinner drinks.

A large meal and alcohol should be consumed at least 2-3 hours before retiring.

4. I love a good cup of coffee, but the caffeine causes some people to stay awake if they drink it too close to bedtime. If you like coffee after your dinner limit yourself to a cup or drink decaffeinated coffee. All drinks (yes, even pop folks) that contain caffeine should be avoided at least 6 hours before bed. If you are still having difficulty falling asleep, limit your caffeine intake to the morning, early afternoon hours or stop altogether.

5. If you like to exercise after you get off work make sure you give yourself enough time to cool down. Going to bed with an accelerated heart rate and warm body temperature will only hinder falling asleep. Try working out in the morning or at least 3 hours before you retire. This will give you enough time to relax and start your nighttime routine before you go to bed. One note: Stanford Un iversity did a study with a group of 50-76 year olds who had sleep problems and started them on a moderate exercise program for a half an hour four times a week. They found on average the participants slept an additional hour each night, took less time to fall asleep and were more energetic during the day (didn’t require a nap). Another point, it is better to exercise outdoors if possible and expose yourself to sunlight. Vitamin D from the sun reinforces your circadian rhythms and is all-round beneficial for your health.

6. Supplements that are considered sleep aides are; valerian, hops, chamomile, passionflower extract, skullcap and catnip. Supplements can be taken by tincture, capsule or as a tea. Please read the label for the recommended dosage and warnings. It may be recommended to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you are on any other medication or have heath issues. Supplements are available at your local health food store or pharmacy.

7. Your bed can be the reason you can’t fall asleep causing you to toss and turn to avoid coils, sore shoulders, back pain or a cramp in your neck. If you sink to the middle of the bed it may be time to replace your mattress. A mattress’s life is 10-20 years depending on the brand. If you can’t afford a new mattress, try a memory foam mattress pad topper, they come in various sizes, firmness and prices. It will add life to your mattress without a dent in your savings. We all would like a good night sleep without worrying about money. Worrying about our to-do-lists and the stress in our daily lives can keep us awake at night. If you are lying there and can’t turn off these thoughts, get up for a bit before trying to fall asleep again. Listen to sleep music as this sleep aide might help you to fall sleep faster as it compels the mind to listen to the music instead of thinking of your problems or all the things you have to do. Types of sleep music; easy listening, instrumental, jazz, classical or as simple as a rainstorm. Whatever floats your boat or what music works best for you, listen to it and sleep easy tonight!
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