Many people don’t realize how important proper sleep is for their health.
With today’s hectic lifestyles, our society is sleeping less in order to work more. Research studies have shown that depriving the sleep your body needs decreases the quality of your life, and can decrease your longevity. Inadequate sleep can disrupt hormonal balance and accelerate aging. Inadequate sleep also increases the onset and severity of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss.
Sadly, many people try to get adequate sleep, but they have trouble falling or staying asleep. Insomnia is an epidemic in our country. Watch night time television, and pay attention to how many sleep aids are marketed during those annoying commercial breaks. Since sleep quality is so important, here are some helpful tips to get a better night’s sleep:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
Why? This helps your body establish a sleep rhythm and makes it easier to fall asleep and awaken.
- Sleep in complete darkness or as close to complete darkness as is possible. Don’t fall asleep with the TV set on!
Why? When light hits the eyes, it disrupts the circadian rhythm of a small gland within the brain called the pineal gland. It also interrupts the production of melatonin and serotonin, which disrupts the quality of sleep. If light shines into your room from outside, use blackout blinds, shades or draperies over the bedroom windows, or simply use a sleep mask to cover your eyes.
- Avoid eating right before bedtime.
Why? The digestive process can impair sleep, and eating grains and sugars can cause a low blood sugar state which can cause hunger and sleep disturbance.
- Wear socks to bed.
Why? Since feet have the poorest circulation of any area of our bodies, they tend to feel cold before the rest of the body which can also disrupt sleep.
- If you lie in bed with your mind racing, keep a journal and write down your thoughts before bedtime.
Why? Journaling helps you download your thoughts to paper, clearing your mind so you can sleep.
- Eat a high protein snack several hours before bed.
Why? This can provide the L-Tryptophan needed to produce melatonin and serotonin. Eat a small piece of fruit or a small handful of berries around the same time. This helps the L-Tryptophan to cross the blood brain barrier.
- Keep your drug use to only what is absolutely necessary.
Why? Both prescription and over the counter drugs may have negative effects on sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.
Why? Caffeine and other stimulants can have long-lasting effects on the nervous system. Watch out for hidden sources of caffeine, such as some over-the-counter pain relievers and diet pills.
- Avoid alcohol.
Why? Although alcohol will make people drowsy, the effect is short lived and people often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back to sleep. Alcohol will also keep you from falling into the deeper stages of REM sleep, where the body does most of its healing.
- If you tend to wake up at night to urinate, don’t drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed.
- Take a hot bath, shower or sauna for about 30 to 60 minutes before bed.
Why? Heat has a relaxing effect on the body.
- Sleep in a comfortable bed.
Why? If your mattress is sagging, making creaking noises, or if you wake up with stiffness or back pain, it may be time for a new mattress. Avoid waterbeds; they were very popular during the ’80s and some may still be around. Waterbeds do not properly support the spine. Your chiropractor can help you determine the type of mattress best suited for your spine.
Are you getting enough sleep?