There are myriad ways to pursue that ever-elusive sleep that we all need to function at optimal levels during the day. Part 3 in the sleep series discusses many of them.
One of the best ways to improve your sleep at night is to move more during the day. If you don’t already workout regularly, take every opportunity to move away from your desk and walk wherever you need to go. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the sandwich shop during lunch, get up and walk to a coworker’s office rather than sending e-mail. March in place for five minutes when you get out of bed in the morning. Swing your arms and get the blood flowing. Stretch several times throughout the day. Walk for a few minutes after work. Just a few tweaks to your daily routine could make the difference at night. Just be sure the exercise ends about four hours before bedtime.
Allow no lights in the bedroom at night. Forget the nightlight. Any light at all interferes with melatonin production, which will affect your function the next day. Long-term melatonin reduction has been linked with breast cancer.
Studies have found that people who take a few minutes during the day to meditate effectively sleep better at night and enjoy better health in general.
Be sure your bed is comfortable. Many people sleep on old, worn-out mattresses with lumpy, used-up pillows. It’s worth the investment for your health’s sake to replace anything that no longer serves you well.
Be sure to keep the bedroom cool enough too. People sleep better in a room that is about 65 degrees.
Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends avoiding spicy, greasy and protein foods near bedtime. But a bowl of cereal may help you sleep with its combination of carbs and milk. A cup of warm milk has been a traditional sleep enhancer for hundreds of years because it works. Chamomile tea often relaxes people as well.
Taking a warm shower before bed is also another tried and true method for falling asleep. The theory is that the blood is drawn to the skin during a hot shower and cools the body's core temperature, which is what makes us sleepy.
Rub it in
If you have a bed partner who is willing, trade gentle back rubs for a few minutes. Most people find that relaxing.
Another way to get fantastic sleep is to have sex. The chemicals released by good sex induce deep, restful sleep and make us feel fabulous the next day as well.
Things to avoid
Caffeine can stay in the system for six hours or more, so drink beverages that contain no caffeine from mid-afternoon on. Drugs and alcohol both interfere with the normal sleep patterns. People who avoid the medications on the market for sleep inducement are better off too. Using natural tricks to improve sleep is a much healthier approach.
Reading, doing office work, watching TV are all considered off-limits in the bedroom by sleep specialists. Family upsets and arguments should be shelved until the next day too.
If you still have trouble consult specialists. In the Antelope Valley try:
Antelope Valley Lung Institute Medical Group
Antelope Valley Sleep Diagnostic Inc
Michael Simmons, DMD
Sleep Number by Select Comfort
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