Thursday, April 5, 2012

S.L.E.E.P. Tips

Spring break is here and a lot of us are planning to get away for some fun and relaxation. The days before leaving can be hectic getting ready for your vacation; packing, buying last minute items, arranging hotel stay or flight arrangements etc. Do you find that you are too excited to sleep? I know what you’re thinking that you can make up the sleep you lost once you get to your destination, right? In the meantime you’re cranky and short with your family and coworkers. Losing sleep whether excited or worried/anxious even for a short period of time can cause memory loss, irritability, impaired physical judgment and lack of concentration. Here are some S.L.E.E.P. tips to help!

[caption id="attachment_1774" align="alignright" width="331" caption="Too excited to sleep? S.L.E.E.P. Tips that help"][/caption]

S is for a set sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night. Choose a time when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. Try not to break this routine on weekends when it may be tempting to stay up late. If you want to change your bedtime, help your body adjust by making the change in small daily increments, such as 15 minutes earlier or later each day.

Get up the same time every day. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time, you may need to set an earlier bedtime. As with your bedtime, try to maintain your regular wake–time even on weekends.

L is for setting limitations. Are you an underachiever or an overachiever? Under achievers tend to worry because they have a long to do list that never seems to end. They tend to put things off until tomorrow and when tomorrow comes they are anxious and frustrated with themselves. Overachievers have way too much on their plate which can cause them to become stressed and anxious. They lie in bed at night rehashing what they need to do and over analyze what they have done. Worry and stress are the number one reasons people can’t sleep at night. Setting limitations for yourself can allow you to get things done during the day and give you time to relax at night so you can fall asleep easy without tossing and turning until 2am.

E is for eating not only healthy but eating foods that promote sleep. Eating spicy hot foods or large meals at night can cause heartburn and acid reflux during the night causing you to wake up. It is best to eat a larger lunch and a smaller dinner or eating before 7 pm so your body can digest your food before retiring. If you want a late night snack eat foods full of tryptophan the amino acid that causes sleepiness.

Tryptophan is one kind of amino acid (building blocks for forming muscles and other parts of human body) that is digested and used by the brain. The brain turns the tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that controls our “feelings” such as depression, hunger, thirst, sleep and other "moods."

However, serotonin is mostly linked to depression. By increasing the levels of tryptophan in our bodies, serotonin will be produced and the end result will be a natural way of keeping depression at bay. List of foods with tryptophan:

Baked potatoes with their skin
Cheddar Cheese
Cottage Cheese
Gruyere (a type of Swiss cheese)
Heated milk
Meat (including red meats)
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Sesame Seeds
Soy Milk
Soybean Nuts
Sunflower Seeds
Swiss cheese

E is for exercising. Researchers say that people who exercised reported that their sleep quality improved, raising their findings from poor to good sleeper. They also reported fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less sleepiness in the daytime.

Exercising vigorously right before bed or within about three hours of your bedtime can actually make it harder to fall asleep. This surprises many people; it's often thought that a good workout before bed helps you feel more tired. In actuality, vigorous exercise right before bed stimulates your heart, brain and muscles -- the opposite of what you want at bedtime. It also raises your body temperature right before bed, which, you'll soon discover, is not what you want.

Morning exercise can relieve stress and improve mood. These effects can indirectly improve sleep, no doubt. To get a more direct sleep-promoting benefit from morning exercise, however, you can couple it with exposure to outdoor light. Being exposed to natural light in the morning, whether you're exercising or not, can improve your sleep at night by reinforcing your body’s sleep/wake cycle.

P is for prioritizing your sleep. Whether you’re too excited to sleep or depressed, you need to make sleep a priority. A good night’s sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Just as you schedule various activities during the waking hours, you need to schedule a specific time for your body to rest and sleep. Sleeping should be part of your “to do” list, not an afterthought once everything else has been accomplished on your list. Start prioritizing your sleep need now to preserve your physical and mental health and boost your energy and ability to face the many demands life brings on.

The information in this site is for informational purposes only and not meant as a substitute for advice from your healthcare professional. This information should not be used to diagnosis or treat any health problem. Information and statements provided by about supplements that have not been evaluated by the FDA are not intended to diagnosis, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical condition. Reliance on any information in this article or on this site is solely at your own risk.

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