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How To Sleep Better

Monday, July 23, 2012

People underestimate the effects that sleeping badly has on the body and mind. Sleeping badly affects both bodily and mental well-being. The chaotic modern world is fast-paced and furious and people are so busy working. People understand the importance that diet and exercise play in health but do not understand that sleep just as important, and society places little or no importance on sleep. 

How To Sleep BetterYet research all over the world indicates that sleep affects health in so many ways. Lack of sleep may have a link to current rising levels of obesity. An American study followed 60,000 women for sixteen years and found that those who slept less than 7 hours a night had a 15% greater chance of becoming obese and a 30% greater chance of gaining 30 pounds in weight over the 16-year study than women who slept for 7 hours or more each night. Constant lack of sleep compromises the immune system, making the body less able to fight illness and to recover from illness. Sleep deprivation also contributes towards mental illnesses, such as depression. Night workers, who are often sleep deprived and may only get very disturbed sleep, suffer digestive illnesses, cardio vascular disease, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, general debility and insomnia. They also have an increased risk of diabetes, metabolic disorders, fertility problems and increased cancer risks. Sleep than is important to both physical and mental well-being.

If you constantly feel tired, your problem may be insufficient sleep. The answer to that is to ensure that you have more sleep. Your body is different to everyone else’s, and requires a certain amount of sleep. Just because your friend or spouse survives on five hours sleep each night, does not mean that you are the same.

Not sleeping properly is many people’s problem. You can do many things to ensure that you can sleep better every night.

Using the bedroom as a multipurpose room is a modern phenomenon and this habit is often the reason why people do not sleep properly. Remove the television from the bedroom. Watching television just before going to sleep stimulates the optic nerve, and causing the brain to remain active, when it should be calming down ready for sleep. The reason that many parents read a bedtime story to a child at bedtime is that it is a quiet activity to help the child wind down, and feel secure and safe ready for sleep. Also, remove laptop computers, tablets, mobile telephones and other computing devices from the bedroom for the same reason.

Some people find that a radio, with the sound low helps them go to sleep. Tune to a classical or easy listening music station or to a talk radio station. Some people recommend BBC’s radio 4 or the BBC World Service for this purpose. It is probably not wise to tune to some of the livelier phone in stations; the content may infuriate you so much that it makes you more wakeful rather than sleepier.

Get into a bedtime routine. Do not do noisy activities just before bedtime. The half an hour or so before bed should be a winding down time. Switch the television off half an hour before bed. Play some relaxing music, do some relaxing activity, or lay out your clothes and things for the morning. Pack your briefcase for work, and place it by the front door, knowing that you have everything ready for the next day, can relieve stress and anxiety and help you to sleep better. Many people find a warm bath or shower just before bed relaxes them and makes them drowsy, others find that it invigorates them and wakes them up.

Go to bed and get up at a regular time. Irregular hours upset your sleep patterns. Do not be tempted to nap during the day because that too can interfere with sleep patterns. Do not worry if you do not go to sleep straight away, look on the time between going to bed and going to sleep as relaxing time for you. If you really cannot sleep, rather than lay there worrying because you cannot go to sleep, get up for half an hour, do some quiet activity and try going back to bed again.

Some people find a warm milky drink helps them to sleep better. Warming milk changes its composition; warm milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid, which aids restful sleep. Also, the ritual involved in making a milky drink calms some people. Drinking a milky drink at bedtime can also remind people of childhood security making sleep easier. A warm milky drink is also very easily digestible.

Eating a heavy meal too close to bedtime will stimulate your digestive system, keep you wakeful, and give you indigestion. Older people especially may find that eating dinner or supper too close to bedtime is a problem. Some people report that particular foods too close to bedtime give them disturbed sleep. Many people believe that eating cheese near to bedtime gives them nightmares. Rich foods such as cheese, or other foods that the body has to work to break down, such as fibre rich foods, can disturb sleep.

Caffeine keeps some people awake, and this is especially true as you age, cut down on caffeine in the hours before bedtime. Some people find that drinking coffee at seven o’ clock, and retiring at eleven pm, makes it difficult to sleep.

People, who do not take sufficient exercise during the day, may find that they cannot sleep at night. However, vigorous exercise just before bedtime is counter-productive since it will make you alert.
Some people find reading in bed makes them drowsy. However, do not pick too exciting a book, avid readers may be tempted to read all night if the book is too thrilling. You should not read for more than twenty minutes or half an hour.

Look at your bedroom, are the curtains thick enough? Too much light in the room disturbs some people making their sleep restless. Your bedroom should relax you, keep wild decorations for living rooms, some people recommend pale green as a very restful colour, and other people prefer dark rich colours such as burgundy. You have to feel comfortable in your bedroom to sleep properly. Are you warm/cool enough, too many or insufficient covers on your bed could be making you restless.

The sleeping/waking cycle is governed by melatonin, a hormone produced naturally in the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a tiny pea sized gland just above the middle of the brain. It is inactive during daylight but active at night when darkness falls. It begins to produce melatonin, which regulates the body clock and keeps your sleep cycles in the regular circadian rhythm natural for all mammals. It is not, however, a magic bullet for all sleep problems, it can be useful where jet lag has upset your sleep pattern. You should not take melatonin without consulting your doctor, commercially produced melatonin is different to naturally produced melatonin and has side effects.

You should, in any case, consult your doctor should your sleep problems persist more than a short period. The doctor may prescribe medication for a short time to help you over a temporary sleep problem or initiate investigations to understand whether there is an underlying medical condition causing your sleep problems.

Some or all of the above strategies may help you sleep better every night. The answer is not the same for everyone and it may take time to understand which combination works for you. Everyone has a difficult night now and again, but constant sleepless or restless nights may signify an underlying medical condition and need further medical investigation. by Maria C Collins.
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