Simple tips to catch your Zzz’s5 years ago | Sleep
Do you consider yourself a "night owl” who can’t seem to catch up on sleep? Photo credit: Mark A. Coleman, Creative Commons
By pH health care professionals
It's a cruel joke. You're exhausted, you pulled a 14-hour day, you know you should be passing out – and yet, you can't sleep.
Chronic insomnia plagues millions of Americans. Addictions to tablets, phones, caffeinated coffee and teas, late-night Game of Thrones binges, work martyrdom, bad news on television, and chronically worrying about your children/love life/paycheck/waist size all contribute to the problem. In short, everyone seems to be sabotaging their sleep like nobody’s business.
How does lack of sleep affect your life?
Sleep deprivation may lead to decreased productivity, less innovation, lower job satisfaction and even unethical behavior at work. Good sleep, on the other hand, is linked to a decreased risk of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
How can you improve your sleep?
- Make the bed a no-screen zone. Better yet, ban all devices -- TV included -- two hours before you go to bed. The blue light emanating from devices simulates daylight, and it's lying to your poor little pineal gland as it tries to figure out how to set your body clock, or your “circadian rhythm.” Think of yourself as a caveman, working to find food and build shelter during the day, and retiring to your cave when the stars come out.
- Get physical. Are you restless? Try running during the day to wear yourself out. Computer-based jobs are no match for your body’s physical activity requirements.
- Eliminate late-afternoon coffees. The caffeine lasts far too long in your body, and may keep you up at night.
- Clean up your late-night food habits. No food two hours before bed is best, and if you have cravings earlier than that, get some protein like a turkey slice or a hard-boiled egg to keep you full.
- Make a nightly ritual. Brushing your teeth, plumping the pillow and picking out an outfit for tomorrow all tell your body that sleep is coming next. Yoga is great for stretching and relaxing, and adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to a massage oil or lotion provides a little strategic aromatherapy (lavender is well-known to induce sleep). Read a few pages of a book to let your brain relax.
- Take control of your thoughts. Your willpower is worse when you are tired, so making your nights predictable and relaxed will keep you from engaging in bad habits. Learn how to meditate and practice it every night before bed.
- Supplement when needed. Some people may need to take a supplement to induce a relaxed state -- valerian, magnesium or SAM-e are good choices for supplements. If you are on medication for allergies, take it at night, as the side effects of most allergy pills include sedation.
Are there health conditions that may cause insomnia?
If you snore badly or can’t get more than a few hours of sleep, make an appointment with a sleep specialist. You may have sleep apnea. People with overactive thyroid glands notice decreased sleep. Neurological and psychiatric conditions like depression, Parkinson's disease, night terrors, restless legs and sleepwalking are all known sleep robbers.
Aside from any of these underlying conditions, it is likely your insomnia is entirely preventable. Once you start making these life changes, you can look forward to the increased productivity and happiness that come with a good night’s sleep.
Enjoy Your Healthy Life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.