Zzzzz: 12 Tips for Sound Sleep
By Martin Brown
Haven’t been sleeping through the night? That’s not good, either physically or emotionally. You need rest in order to function at your fullest potential. In fact, sleep is an integral part of a good fitness program.
And the quality of your sleep is just as important as the quality of it. Rule of thumb: most adults need between 7-9 hours of uninterrupted beddie-bye..
If you find it hard to get up with that amount, then you need to analyze why you’re too tired. Perhaps you need an extra hour. Or maybe some external factors are keeping you awake.
Remember: a good night’s sleep leads to better fitness in your waking hours. However, if you have a sleep disorder, you’ll be more lethargic, more apt to exercise, and less lazy about dieting.
Counting sheep is easier if you can fix the following issues prior to letting your head hit the pillow:
1. Goldie Locks had it right: too hot or too cold will keep you awake. Check your thermostat, or wear clothes that will ensure the right temperature for your body. Also, know who many blankets you need (or don’t).
2. Routines are good. Try to go to bed at the same time, and to get up at the same time every day. Believe it or not, waking up at a regular time is very important. Bright light, like the sun, when you get up, also helps.
On the flip side, try to go to bed only when you are sleepy.
3. Coffee late at night is a no-no! Avoid stimulants in the evening, such as coffee, chocolate, sodas, or teas that have caffeine, which delays sleep. If you take any caffeine, do so in the morning.
4. Use the bed for sleeping. That means no TV or laptops. (I know: SO HARD!). Even reading in bed can be a problem — if the material is stimulating, or if you read with a bright light. If it helps to read before jumping into bed.
5. Avoid bright light around the house before bed. Using dimmer switches in living rooms and bathrooms before bed can be helpful. (Dimmer switches can be set to maximum brightness for morning routines.)
6. Don’t stress if you feel you are not getting enough sleep. It will just make matters worse. Know you will sleep eventually.
7. Do earlier workouts. Any exercise, even three hours prior to bedtime, will keep you from falling asleep, so work out often, and early.
8. Hungry? Go, ahead, eat (something light)! Having a light snack before you hit the sack won’t keep you up, but a big meal will, so limit your intake.
9. Bedtime routines help put you in the mood. A cup of tea? Fluff your pillows? Go for it. It tells you mind what your body wants . . .
10. Don’t watch the clock. Anxiety is what wakes us in the middle of the night. Invertly, watching the clock can make us anxious. So DON’T do it. Instead, turn the clock away from your face. Out of sight, out of mind.
11. Read to fall asleep. If you’re still awake after thirty minutes, go for something that is sure to bore you. Also, a dimmer light (say, 15 watts) will make it harder for you to read — and easier for you to fall asleep.
12. Get tested for sleep apnea. This condition is a common reason for a broken sleep pattern. It affects many people, particularly those with weight problems, or those who snore. A doctor who specializes in sleep disorders will watch you sleep, overnight in a controlled environment, with the correct instruments to measure your eye movement, heart rate, and other factors that indicate why you may be having a hard time sleeping. These new therapies can make a BIG difference in creating the right environment: one in which you’ll sleep through the night.