A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with a thyroid issue, and up until that point I had many health problems that were plaguing me and they really took a toll on me. In the midst of trying to get my health more balanced, one piece of advice I took from my doctor was the value of getting a good nights rest.
I don’t think, up until that point, I ever really thought of ‘quality sleep’ one way or another, nor how valuable sleep/rest is for your body (and brain). I now know that when I get the right amount of sleep, it is amazing how different I feel, and I encourage you NOT to wait until a health problem rears its ugly head before you take action.
In the meantime, here are some helpful tips from Consumer Reports on Health (April 2012 edition):
Even if the cause of your sleeplessness is properly treated, poor sleep habits might need to be managed separately. These techniques can help.
*Set a bedtime and wake-up time. A schedule teaches your body to expect sleep at a certain time each night.
*Curb napping. A 30-minute snooze before 3 p.m. can help make up for lost sleep, but later naps could hinder sleep at night.
*Limit alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Refrain from smoking 2 hours before bedtime. Eliminate caffeine at least 6 hours before then, and avoid alcohol 4 to 6 hours before going to bed.
*Avoid large, late meals. They can cause sleep-disturbing indigestion, But a bedtime snack consisting of a carbohydrate and a protein – such as peanut butter on toast or cheese and crackers – can help induce drowsiness.
*Establish a soothing bedtime routine. A warm bath, reading, or listening to mellow music will help you wind down.
*Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Try a sleeping mask or heavy curtains to shut out light. Use earplugs, a fan, or a sound machine to block noise. Consider replacing an old mattress.
*Turn off the technology. In a 2011 poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 95 percent of the participants said they watched television or used a computer or other electronics in the hour before going to bed. But light-emitting screens discourage sleep.
*Use your bed only for sex and sleep, which will train you to associate it with just those two things. If you don’t doze off within 20 minutes of trying to sleep, leave the room and do something relaxing in dim light until you’re sleepy.
*Exercise early in the day. Regular aerobic exercise promotes sleep, but evening workouts can impede it by raising body heat.
*Use natural light. It keeps your internal clock on a healthy schedule. Open shades to wake with the sun, and spend at least 30 minutes outside daily.