Do you want to be productive, mentally sharp, emotionally balanced, and full of energy all day long? The way you feel during your waking hours hinges on how well you sleep at night. The cure to sleep difficulties and daytime fatigue can often be found in your daily routine. Your sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day–to–day lifestyle choices make an enormous difference in the quality of your nightly rest.
Can you relate to these problems?
- Your partner kicks in his or her sleep, waking you up.
- Your partner likes it hot, but you like it cool.
- Your partner snores, keeping you up at night.
- Your partner tosses and turns.
- Your partner loves to cuddle, but you like your space while you sleep.
- Your sleep schedules don't match.
- Your bedroom feels more like an office than a place to sleep.
- Your CPAP machine makes too much noise and keeps your partner awake.
Here are some tips from the Better Sleep Council for maintaining a healthy sleep cycle and ensuring the best night's rest:
- Make sleep a priority by keeping a consistent sleep (bedtime) and wake schedule, including weekends
- Create a bedtime routine that is relaxing. Experts recommend reading a book, listening to soothing music or soaking in a hot bath.
- Transform your bedroom into a haven of comfort. Create a room that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool for the best possible sleep.
- Evaluate your mattress and pillow to ensure proper comfort and support. If your mattress is five to seven years old, it may be time for a new one. In general, pillows should be replaced every year.
- Keep work materials, computers and televisions out of the bedroom; it should be used for sleep and sex only.
- Exercise regularly, but complete workouts at least two hours before bedtime.
- If you sleep with a partner, your mattress should allow each of you enough space to move easily. Couples who've been sleeping on a "double" (full size) may think they have enough room, until they learn that each person has only as much sleeping space as a baby's crib!
- Avoid nicotine (e.g., cigarettes, tobacco products). Used close to bedtime, it can lead to poor sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol (e.g., coffee, tea, and soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime. It can keep you awake.
- Finish eating at least two to three hours before bedtime.
New findings show better sleep linked to improved physical performance. While weary, overextended Americans are turning to "quick fixes" like caffeine and performance-enhancing supplements, which claim to improve everything from their daily workout to their sex lives, they are losing sight of what experts say is essential to improved performance: a good night's sleep. In fact, according to the 2008 Better Sleep Month (BSM) national survey, sponsored by the Better Sleep Council (BSC):
- Respondents getting nine hours of sleep or more are more likely to engage in higher-intensity workouts (biking, running, weight lifting, etc.).
- Seven in 10 (70 percent) report that they are not getting the recommended amount of sleep needed each night (7.5 hours or more) to perform at their best each day.
- "Sleep deprivation impacts us physically, which can negatively affect our coordination, agility, mood and energy," says Dr. Bert Jacobson, professor and head of the School of Educational Studies at Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the lead author of the new study Grouped Comparisons of Sleep Quality for New and Personal Bedding Systems. "Research shows that sleeping better and longer leads to improvements in athletic performance, including faster sprint time, better endurance, lower heart rate, and even improved mood and higher levels of energy during a workout." (Better Sleep Council)
17 Healthful Sleep Tips (from sleepbetter.org)
- Retire within two hours and rise within one hour of the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, which suppress deep sleep, within three to six hours of bedtime.
- Avoid heavy meals within three hours of bedtime.
- Use your bed for resting or sleeping, not for office work, watching television or playing video games (unless it helps you to doze off).
- Exercise moderately for 30 minutes a day, but no later than three hours before lights out, unless exercise relaxes you, then it may actually help you sleep.
- Sip warm milk or herb tea before bed to raise body temperature and to help induce sleep. Chamomile tea is a good choice.
- Snack on protein and complex carbohydrates up to one hour before bed to enlist the aid of these naturally calming compounds.
- Nap no later than 8 hours before you are planning on going to bed to avoid sleep interference.
- Put work aside two to three hours before sleeping.
- Write out a "worry list" or "to-do list" of bothersome matters before bed to help your mind disengage.
- Make the bedroom into a sanctuary. Try aromatherapy, or bring the freshness of the outdoors inside with air-dried sheets and sunned pillows and comforters. Linen sprays scented with soothing lavender or rose offer another option.
- Pamper yourself with massage, meditation, soothing music, yoga, positive imagery, biofeedback, a warm bath or other techniques that help the brain kick back and unwind.
- Keep the bedroom quiet, dark and cool.
- If you fail to fall asleep within 25 minutes, get out of bed and read for a while, selecting soothing rather than stimulating material.
- Consult a doctor before taking melatonin, which may produce insomnia if given at the wrong time, or other sleep-aids, which may prove ineffective, unhealthy or habit-forming.
- Dim lights two to three hours before bedtime and get out in bright sunshine for five to 30 minutes as soon as you arise to help set your brain's internal clock to your sleep-wake schedule.
- If slumber continues to elude you, consider a visit to a sleep specialist.
Recommended links for more information on Better Sleep:
Better Sleep Council http://www.bettersleep.org
Sleep Council www.sleepcouncil.com
Sleep Products Safety Council
In summary folks, find what formula works for you to prepare for bed and to a good rest each and every time. Be good to your body, yourself and love ones – take this serious– please.