A Good Night’s Sleep, No RX Required
Sleep is more precious than all the gold in the world for the 10 percent of Americans suffering through chronic insomnia. Even if you only have the occasional sleepless night, you know the detriment of fatigue. Keep reading for a few ways to induce slumber without resorting to doctors or (potentially addictive) medication.
Comfort by design
The first and most obvious solution for poor sleep is to ensure you have a cozy and comfortable place upon which to rest. If you regularly wake up sore, stiff, and in pain, a bad or aging mattress might be to blame. Consider investing in a quality mattress that supports your sleep style and can keep your spine properly aligned. You’ll also need to pay attention to your bedding. Cotton sheets and layered blankets will help you better control your temperature overnight. Heavy curtains, which can block out light from the neighbor’s house or street lamps, are also helpful. Today contributor Jessica Migala further asserts that a pillow designed for your sleeping style – back, side, stomach – can enhance your overnight hours.
Sleep and the clock
Another factor in how well you are able to sleep has to do with the number of hours you give yourself to make it happen. A good rule of thumb is to get in bed at least eight hours prior to when you need to be up for the next day. Once you know your times, stick to the schedule all week long and even on the weekends.
“Awake” activities to avoid
The activities you do in the hours before bed plays a considerable role in how your time spent asleep plays out. You should not, for example, drink coffee within five hours of bedtime. Avoid eating a heavy meal within three hours of bedtime and, perhaps most importantly, leave your telephone and tablet in another room. These devices emit blue light, which causes problems for your brain when it’s trying to release melatonin, a hormone associated with sleep.
Instead of scrolling through Facebook, head to the library for a real book. This may not offer the instant gratification of a social news feed, but the right book can hold your attention and lull your mind into a rested state. A good book can keep your mind off the worries of the day so that you can drift off to dreamland without stress keeping you awake.
Exercise is another activity that should be sanctioned for daylight hours only. While your physical activities, which should include at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, are vital to your ability to sleep, it’s best to avoid anything that gets your heart up and running and makes you sweat just before bed. Fitness advocates these five yoga poses to help you wind down. As an added bonus, they can be done from the bed while in your pajamas.
Supplement the natural way
Prescription sleeping pills are not only addictive, but they can come with unwanted side effects, too. This includes mental fogginess, which might counter any benefits they offer. But Mother Nature has a solution for everything. Natural supplements including melatonin, 5 HTP, magnesium, and belladonna are typically considered safe for otherwise healthy adults. Talk to your doctor before beginning any nutritional supplement as there is always the possibility of interaction with your prescription medications.
Occasional sleeplessness probably won’t cause any long-term damage to your health. But, left unchecked, insomnia and the resulting sleep deprivation is a dangerous thing. Not only are sleep disorders inconvenient they also put you at a greater risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart failure. Don’t take chances with your health – give your body the rest it needs by making changes to your lifestyle and environment that promote restful sleep.
### Dylan Foster, guest blogger