Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

How Well Did You Sleep Last Night?

on October 29, 2011

Good Morning!  Do you feel refreshed?  Did you get 7-8 hours of sleep last night or are you ready for a nap as soon as you get up?

Did you wake up like this?

I have had some real issues with sleep and a recent article I read stated that you should log your sleep habits to see what is happening.  After writing it down, it was not a shocker to see why I wasn’t feeling rested in the morning.

The alarm goes off at 4:15 AM almost everyday so I can go teach an early class at the Y.  I then go to work all day and end up dozing on the couch in front of the TV by 8pm.  I wake up at 10pm, check a few e-mails, drag myself to bed and turn on the TV to watch Seinfeld.  I wake up to some informercial blaring and grab the remote to turn it off.  At some point during the night, Randy comes to bed after his couch nap and even though he tries to be quiet, I wake up.  During all of this I have 1 cat plastered against my legs and another who likes to lick my arm whenever she gets the chance.  Many nights I’m awake at 3am and can’t get back to sleep. 

If I fall back to sleep right now...how many hours will I get?

Do your nights sound like that?  Most of us have some really bad habits that might be tough to break but getting a good nights sleep is crucial to good health- both mind and body.

Experts suggest that most men and women need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Yet there are many differences in how men and women sleep. In general women tend to sleep more than men, going to bed and falling asleep earlier. A woman’s sleep also tends to be lighter and more easily disturbed. Women are more likely to feel unrefreshed even after a full night of sleep.

So- what should we do to ensure we are getting 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep?  

The following tips are provided by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to help you get the most out of your sleep:

  • Make your bedroom a comfortable and safe place. Reduce noises and extreme temperatures that might disturb you. Make the room as dark as possible.  Even light from an alarm clock can disturb you. 
  • Go to bed only when you are sleepy and use the bed only for sleeping and sex.
  • Take the TV out of the bedroom or don’t turn it on at night. Do not use a computer within 2 hours of going to bed. Light from these sources block melatonin, a hormone that is necessary for sleep.
  • Begin rituals to help you relax at bedtime, such as taking a soothing bath or enjoying a light snack.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays.
  • If you need to take a nap, keep it to less than one hour and take it before 3 p.m.
  • Only drink caffeine in the morning, and avoid alcohol and cigarettes late in the day. You night think caffeine doesn’t affect you, but it does. 
  • Stay away from fatty, spicy foods that are likely to upset your stomach or cause heartburn.
  • Set aside time during the day to get all of your worries out of your system.
  • Increase vitamin E in your diet, or take a vitamin E supplement.
  • Hormone replacement therapy may help you sleep better by relieving severe hot flashes related to menopause. Ask your doctor for advice about this kind of treatment.
  • Only use sleeping pills when supervised by a doctor

I started a new sleep routine a few weeks ago and while it is still a work in progress, I really feel better and more awake all day.

My number one tip?  Take the TV out of the bedroom or don’t turn it on at night.  This is a TOUGH habit to break but it really does work. Most of us think we have to fall asleep with the TV on, but the light and sound affect us in ways we don’t realize.  Even using a sleep timer to turn off the TV is not enough, don’t turn it on at all

Make sure the room is dark.  The only light I have in the bedroom at night now is the alarm clock and that is set to dim.  Some people even put the clock under the bed so there is no light at all. 

Go to bed at a time that allows for 7-8 hours of sleep.  I get up at 4:15 so I now go to bed at 9 or maybe earlier.  That’s a tough one, too, but it sure helps.  Don’t allow yourself to fall asleep on the couch, if you’re tired- go to bed!

Have a light snack before going to bed and make it a routine. Have a banana, cup of yogurt or an apple.  This is especially important if you are getting up early to work out.  I like a cup of sugar-free hot chocolate and a piece of whole grain toast.

The one thing I haven’t done yet is kick the cats out of the bedroom.  Sleep experts all say that pets should not be in bed with you as they disturb your sleep but these experts must not have cats pounding at the door to get in or crying pitifully all night.  That is one habit I don’t think I can break!

With just a few changes you can wake up like this!

Changing your sleep routine can be tough after all these years but it is extremely important not only to your physical health but to your mental health as well.  Make a few small changes at a time and before you know it you will wake up refreshed and ready to take on the world!

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