Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Want Better Sleep?

Then maybe you need to get back to the basics. Remember when you were growing up your parents had a bedtime routine for you that was meant to be calming, and conducive to sleep? As a grown up, though, there's a lot you could be doing to de-rail your good night's rest.

An estimated 65 percent of Americans said they encounter sleep problems a few nights each week, according to a recent study by the National Sleep Foundation. Sleeping too little is linked with an increased risk for obesity and depression. But before you reach for a sleep aid from the nearest pharmacy, take a closer look at your nighttime routine. Some of your favorite evening rituals could be responsible for that tossing and turning. Time to get filled in, as well as turn the problem around from Marie Claire's Danielle Schloffel:

Going from Night Owl to Early Bird

Who says bedtime is just for kids? Take extra care to maintain your sleep schedule, especially on the weekends. The body responds to routine. If your bedtime is sporadic—11 p.m. some nights, 1 a.m. others—your mind won't be properly prepared to snooze on the weekdays. Another tip? If you like to stay up late and sleep in on the weekends- fine! Just do so on one night- Friday. Go to bed at a normal "weekday" time on Saturday, with maybe just a little additional time to sleep in Sunday (maybe half an hour), so that your body can adjust itself back to the weekday routine come Sunday night/Monday morning.

Bringing Books to Bed

Reading before bed is a habit for many. For some, it causes no problems in falling asleep. It could be that you hit the sack early enough to allow a certain number of chapters before it's time to sleep. That's good! No problem. But for others - a favorite literary masterpiece is keeping you up way too late. Problem is, your body has likely adapted to the routine of reading—it won't go to sleep until you've logged a couple chapters. If your favorite novel is interfering with your sleep, retreat to a comfy couch or window nook instead for your literary fix. Keep the bed for sleeping.

Facebooking into the Wee Hours

The brightness of your computer screen stimulates the brain. Plus, it's difficult for your mind to stop fretting about your digital to-do list, even after you've logged off. Avoid late-night surfing and shut down your computer. Give yourself time to wind down without any electronics - cell phones and iPods, included.

Skimping on a Good Bed

A good mattress will cost you anywhere from $500 to more than $3,000. Consider it money well spent. A decent mattress—do your homework!—will give you a more restful sleep. The same is true for quality bedding and pillows. Opt for a soft pillow if you're a back or stomach sleeper. Buy a firmer pillow if you sleep on your side.

Setting a Bright Alarm Clock

The looming glare of your alarm clock can be distracting when trying to sleep. The goal is to have as dark a room as possible. Block the bright numbers with a book or consider buying a small travel clock. Your cell phone alarm may also do the trick, and it provides a good time to re-charge it through the night.

Counting Sheep

When you just can't fall asleep, it's useless to stay in bed. If you've been trying to fall asleep for more than 30 minutes, the National Sleep Foundation suggests doing something mundane, like balancing a checkbook, reading or watching TV. An activity that demands marginal brainpower will lull your mind. Before you know it, you'll be crawling back into bed genuinely tired. Clean out something low-priority, like the sock drawer- that should be dull enough.

Exercising Late at Night

Daytime workouts will keep you invigorated for hours. That's why you don't want to exercise within three hours of hitting the sack. Intense physical activity raises your body temperature and pumps your energy level—both interrupt a calm transition into sleep.

Think today about how you can incorporate some of these ideas if you've been struggling with your sleep, and you'll be ready to try some over the weekend.

[From John Tesh]

1 comment:

Clerk said...

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