Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sleep Easy Tips and Techniques to Get More ZZZs

What are some the tell tale signs you are not getting enough sleep at night? Do you lay awake in bed more than 30 minutes? Do you get up during the night or wake up early in the morning? If you wake up, can you fall back to sleep easily? Are you tired during the day? Do you wake up refreshed or still sleepy? These are all symptoms of insomnia and you are suffering from sleep deprivation. Here are some sleep easy tips and techniques to get more zzz’s.

[caption id="attachment_903" align="alignright" width="324" caption="Sleep Easy Tips and Techniques to Get More ZZZs - Sleep Deprivation"][/caption]

Sleep deprivation causes physical and mental health problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and depression, so it is imperative to get the required sleep you need to maintain good health. Even an occasional night of getting six hours or less can make your daily life stressful causing lack of concentration, mental focus and delayed physical reaction. The result can bring about unfulfilled daily tasks, play and part in making mistakes, create tense relationship issues and make it harder to operate heavy machinery.

What is YOUR required amount of sleep? Sleep varies per individual as you may feel refreshed after seven hours of sleep, others may need only six or as much as nine. So, if you get seven hours of sleep and have trouble staying awake during the day….YOU aren’t getting enough sleep. Other sleep deprived symptoms are a tendency to be short-tempered with family, friends and co-workers and struggle with short-term memory. Some people with medical issues like; lupus, fibromyalgia or epilepsy may require more sleep and they can’t, because of their medications; such as prednisone which has side effects that may cause them not to be able to get the sleep they need.

Besides medications there are other sleep stealers that can contribute to your sleep deprivation. Shift work, jet lag, stress and pain associated with RLS, PMS or night sweats are a few. Being overweight can also be a factor when it comes to sleep loss as it may increase the chance for sleep apnea a condition when you snore and/or stop breathing due to a constrictive airway passage. External factors that can rob you of your sleep are; irregular sleep schedules, caffeine, too much light or noise in your bedroom and working out too late at night.

External factors can be modified or alleviated with a few lifestyle changes; avoid caffeine after dinner, exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime, darken your bedroom with black out curtains, blinds or use an eye mask, block out uncontrollable noises with a fan, white noise machine or ear plugs, limit your naps to 20 minute power naps and take them before 4pm, stick to a sleep schedule even on the weekends and if you can’t sleep because of your stress…get up and write it down. Sometimes by getting it out of your head and onto paper can help you relax enough to fall asleep.

If you are the type of person that needs a snack before bedtime remember that while you don’t want to go to bed hungry you don’t want to go to bed with a too full tummy also. Refrain from eating a large meal (and/or hot spicy meal) too close to bedtime as this may result in indigestion, heartburn and/or acid reflux. A light snack consisting of foods that are full of tryptophan an amino acid that causes lethargy can actually act as a sleep aid. Try a slice of turkey, a bowl of oat cereal or a glass of warm milk.

Sometimes helping your mind and body to relax before your bedtime can help you to fall asleep faster. Taking a relaxing warm bath can make you feel tired, but remember if the bath water is too hot you will increase your internal body temperature and stimulate you enough to make it harder for you to fall asleep. Although your doctor may recommend a prescription sleep aid, I recommend that you try a natural herbal supplement first. Prescription drugs have side effects and can be addictive. There are many sleep aid supplements on the market today like; Valerian, melatonin, passionflower extract, hops, GABA, Kava Kava and catnip. You can try them alone or in combination. Chamomile and lavender are also herbs that help induce sleep. You can purchase chamomile in a tea and lavender is available as oil for bath, dried in pillows or candles for aromatherapy.

[caption id="attachment_904" align="alignright" width="382" caption="Sleep Easy Tips and Techniques to Get More ZZZs - Snoring a sign of Sleep Apnea"][/caption]

If you feel you have chronic insomnia or the inability to sleep longer than a week it may be time to talk to your doctor. A good practice for determining the cause of your insomnia is keeping a sleep journal. A sleep journal should consist of at least two weeks of information including how long you sleep at night, how you feel the next day and if you wake up periodically during the night. Your doctor can use the information to determine the cause of your insomnia and may recommend a sleep clinic to monitor your sleep pattern and diagnose if you are suffering from sleep apnea. If your medication is causing your sleep problems, he may change your prescription or recommend that you take it earlier in the day. You may also see if you are deficient in magnesium, a magnesium sleep deficiency causes people to wake up frequently during the night. Other health concerns due to a magnesium deficiency are; constipation, anxiety, irritability, and pain to name a few. For more information see: magnesium sleep

The content provided in Sleep Easy Tips and Techniques to Get More ZZZs is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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