Friday, July 13, 2007

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

How are you sleeping? Most Americans report difficulty sleeping as I wrote in last week’s blog. We received some emails from people who have overcome sleep disruption and we gathered some of their advice, along with that of some experts. There is some common ground of acceptance when it comes to basic things like this:

Institute rituals that get associated with sleep.
Choosing the same go-to-bed and get-up times help set your internal clock and keep it ticking. Sleep disruptions multiply when you change these times. Your body can never properly adjust to its own internal rhythms. Another piece of advice by the experts is to keep your bed as a place for sleep or sex. Avoid working in bed or worrying there. They say to get up if you can’t sleep and do something else until you feel sleepy.

Wind down before you get into bed, so you are relaxed.
For some this means putting work away, turning off TV, getting a mini-massage from the one you love, taking a warm (not hot) bath, incorporating standard rituals, such as brushing your teeth, putting on face cream or lotion, setting the clock (which should not have a bright face on it, by the way, to shine light on you while you are trying to sleep).

Choose the right mattress/bed combination.
There are so many choices of sleep furniture today. It is a bit mind boggling. Shopping for beds is not the easiest thing, although I note that some manufacturers and dealers give 30-day trial periods. I’m sure they have tested the waters a lot before making such an offer. A mattress is not something that can be repackaged and sold as new again, if you know what I mean. In any case, many experts say the mattress should be firm, but not rock hard. I find in my conversations on this subject that firmness is definitely a personal thing. You will have to experiment. If it’s been 15 or more years since you have purchased a new mattress, you might want to consider a new one. Many folks replace them more frequently, and I know more than a few who cannot remember when they bought a new mattress. Probably time for a new one if that’s the case! Check out our Featured Product this week for another option to consider. The adjustable bed helps you find the right position regardless of your situation.

Eat or drink the right thing.
You’ve heard no doubt that alcohol can rob you of sound sleep. While it initially acts as a depressant, it ultimately is a stimulant and gives restless and fitful sleep. Caffeine is another culprit. Wisdom says don’t drink anything with caffeine after about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Milk or herbal teas are preferred by those who have conquered sleeplessness. Having a very light snack (e.g., yogurt, a cracker with peanut butter, some cereal) is on the short list of ways to induce sleep and the stimulation of growth hormone while you sleep. Growth hormone is a subject all unto itself these days. Maybe we’ll do a blog on that one soon.

Finding the right sleep position.
You’ve heard by now of sleep apnea. It’s one of the most frequently diagnosed conditions these days now that we are all more sensitized to the fact that snoring is not just a natural phenomenon, especially the gasping, can’t-get-enough-air kind of snoring. If you suspect you or a loved one has sleep apnea, call one of the sleep programs in your local cities. Spending a night in a sleep lab can help you determine whether you have the condition or not, and if so, what degree you have and what the appropriate treatments might be. For many sleeping on the back helps alleviate sore muscles in the lower back. For others, side sleeping helps reduce snoring. You probably know what position works best for you, but you might not know if you snore. Be sure to ask whoever is within hearing distance so you can start to take it seriously.

Exercise during the day.
Without a doubt the single most helpful thing people say about overcoming sleep disruption is incorporating a regular exercise routine into their lives. With so many of us occupied with jobs that are mentally and emotionally draining, but not physically demanding, we underestimate sometimes just how important it is to get the muscles going.

See your doctor.
If you have tried everything in the book, it’s time to see your doctor. There could be medical conditions contributing to your sleeplessness. The recently named, Restless Leg Syndrome, for example, has always existed, no doubt. But with the name comes the prescriptions for it. You will want to be sure to share everything you have tried with your physician to be sure s/he understands all your symptoms.

Please send us an email or post your comments on sleep and your favorite remedies.

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