Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Get some sleep!

How to get to sleep… Naturally!

If I were to survey 10,000 people in the U.S. and ask them what are some things they need more of, many of them (right after saying more money!) would say more sleep. And because over 40 million Americans suffer from different chronic sleep disorders ranging from sleep apnea to insomnia it is important for us all to find ways to sleep better. There are more efficient and useful ways to drift into Dreamland than just popping a sleeping pill or the ageless chore of boring yourself to sleep by counting sheep. It becomes a cycle of suppressants and caffeine to keep your body functioning. Not cool! There are much better ways to getting a good night’s rest. Here are some natural remedies to cure sleepless nights!

1. Stay active during the day. I know I am guilty of the afternoon nap and sluggish ways after a long days work (or day of shopping!). Studies have shown that people who exercise at least four times a week sleep better and have lower signs or depression. Exercising and staying active will not only have you feeling better physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. It will also take away the midday sleepiness that falls upon most of us around 2:30pm! If you have to nap, do not exceed 25 minutes. If you nap for too long your body naturally goes into other stages of sleep causing inertia (that uncomfortable groggy feeling) because you have been in a deep sleep and interrupted it. Insomnia can also be a result of depression so an active lifestyle is an overall health benefit!

2. Schedule your caffeine intake. If you want to stay up until 3am by all means drink that quad espresso with caramel drizzle in the late evening, but if not , don’t drink it too late. Caffeine can stay in your body for up to 14 hours so it is important to cut down on what you ingest by the early afternoon if you plan on going to bed at a decent time. Develop a schedule of when you can conveniently discontinue the use of caffeine during the day, especially if you have a caffeine dependency. If you stop drinking coffee or soda too early, you’ll get a withdrawal headache and that will also cause you to have a hard time getting to sleep. If you absolutely need caffeine, consume it up until 4-6 hours before you are planning on going to bed.

3. Only associate your bed with sleep. How many of us talk on the phone, watch a good movie, or even eat in bed? This is a major no-no! The bed is supposed to be for two things… the one I will say is sleep (I’m sure you can figure out the other one, wink wink!) When you do other activities in the bed other than what it is designated for, you are programming your mind and body to NOT shut down when you are in bed. You are making it more difficult for yourself to sleep when you do this. Instead, if you must be in your room for movie or snack time, get a cozy chair to lounge in and keep it in your room. But by all means, avoid doing anything else in your bed!

4. No pets in bed! I know we all love to cuddle with our furry creatures, but they might be why you are so restless at night. It is quite possible that you have some type of allergy to your pet-child and it is irritating you when you are unaware of it. Best thing is to get an allergy test to make sure. Also, their movement during the night also might be the trigger causing you to drift in and out of sleep causing a grumpy person in the morning. Get a pet bed to put close to your bed if they must be near you at night. It will take some adjusting to but you’ll be a much more pleasant person. You’re co-workers will thank you for it too!

5. Stop smoking and drinking. Smoking cigarettes is just a bad habit anyways and has no health benefit so you should probably not do it all together, but if you must smoke do it in moderation to sedate you. A large amount of nicotine acts like caffeine instead of relaxing you and will keep you alert. Also when you have a nicotine dependency, you will probably have withdrawals during the night causing you to get up and take a few unnecessary, but necessary, puffs to satisfy your craving. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can cause arousal during the night, not to mention frequent urination. No, not just that type of arousal! It just keeps you up as in awake and alert mentally! It will act as a sedative at first but then it becomes the “Up All Night Show”. Again drink in moderation if you want to be able to function the next day.

Getting to sleep shouldn’t be that difficult, but I can attest to the fact that some days it is easier to find Waldo than find a way to sleep comfortably. A good night’s sleep is possible, but you might just have to work a little harder at it!

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