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Good Night Sleep Tight
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Photo: Martin Applegate
One of the most important elements of maintaining good health—getting an adequate amount of quality sleep—is a problem for many people in today’s hectic world. In a recent survey 67 percent of Americans reported experiencing sleep problems three or more times every week (Healthy Home News, issue 130).

Sleep expert Ellen Michaud says researchers have determined that insufficient sleep can cause serious medical problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and depression. In her book Sleep to be Sexy, Smart and Slim, Michaud purports that while it is often easier to turn to medications for sleep assistance, it is actually the process of examining and changing your sleep habits that will make a lasting difference.

Recommendations for Better Sleep

To consistently benefit from better sleep patterns Michaud recommends that you:
  • Forget the late-night news. Since most newscasts tend to feature negative content, they will agitate you more than helping you to relax. After watching an hour of people getting hurt or killed, it’s unlikely you will drift off into a peaceful sleep.
  • Ditch the lights. Close your bedroom drapes or blinds. Even nightlights or clock radios with lighted displays can be misinterpreted by your brain as a signal to wake up. Darkness encourages you to sleep more soundly and for longer periods of time.
  • Skip the thrillers/mysteries (books and movies). No one sleeps well when his or her mind is jumping at every noise in or around the house.
  • Avoid your computer before bedtime. Researchers at Stanford University have found that the light from your monitor right before bed is enough to reset your wake/sleep cycle and postpone sleepiness for three hours.
  • Keep a “worry book” near your bed. If you wake up and start worrying, jot down everything you’re thinking about and any solutions that come to mind. Then put the book down and rest easy, knowing you will deal with those things in the morning.
  • Wear socks to bed. “There’s no solid explanation for it,” says Michaud, “but studies have found that wearing socks to bed helps you sleep.” It may be that warming your feet and legs allows your internal body temperature to drop.
  • Create a sleep schedule. Keeping a consistent schedule every day (even weekends) helps to train your brain and body to relax or awake at certain times. Talk to your family or roommates about how you can work together to help everyone get the sleep they need.
  • Drink water during the day. And avoid tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Anything with caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a chemical produced by your brain that makes you sleepy.
  • Use aromatherapy. “Try taking a warm bath before bed and using aromas that calm the senses, such as lavender and vanilla,” suggests Michaud. “A quick spritz of soothing lavender water on your pillow at bedtime will help calm your exhausted mind.”
Try incorporating as many of these suggestions as possible into your daily routines so you can consistently enjoy the many benefits of a good night’s sleep.

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.




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