Tag Archives: insomnia

11 More Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

time-flies-1214482-mAlmost two years ago, we posted 11 tips on getting a good night’s sleep. While I have been working on my sleeping habits, I still have room for improvement.

It’s been proven that sleep, and getting enough sleep, has a huge impact on our overall health and well-being.

Modern life is filled with stress and so many distractions. I am guilty of watch TV or playing games on my phone while lying in bed. So, turn off the devices and use these 11 tips for getting a good night’s sleep:

Keep a sleep diary
To get a better idea of your sleep habits, write down what you do every day for at least two weeks. Keep track of what time you go to bed, how long it takes to fall asleep, how many times you wake up, and how you feel in the morning. You should also track what you eat and drink before bed and if you exercised that day. You might be surprised to see some patterns in your habits and how well you sleep.

Increase light exposure
Getting more sunlight during the day can help set your body’s clock and sleep-wake cycle. Soak up some sunlight in the morning. Try to spend more time outside during the day, even if it’s a few minutes at lunch or walking the dog after work. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day to let in more sun.

Block the clock
When you go to bed, block the alarm clock. If you can’t glance at it in the middle of the night or start checking it in the early morning hours, you might find you get a more restful night’s sleep. Even the glow from your electronic devices, such as tablets and mobile phones, on the nightstand can interfere with sleep. The darker you keep the room, the better.

Turn on white noise
I sleep with a fan running at night. You can also use a sound machine to produce a low-level soothing sound. This white noise helps you tune out the noisy neighbors, a barking dog or the TV that’s on in another room.

Seal the mattress
If a runny nose, sneezing or itching is bothering you at night, your mattress could be the problem. You can develop dust mites, mold or other allergens. By using a plastic, dust-proof mattress cover, you can avoid these issues.

Get your neck in shape
If you wake up tired with a stiff neck, your pillow is probably to blame. Your pillow should keep your neck in a neutral position. It’s best to sleep on your back or side, since stomach sleeping can twist your neck.

Write down your troubles
What’s the most common sleep complaint? I can’t shut off my brain. Every night before bed, write down what’s on your mind. Make notes on chores you need to do, errands you need to run the next day, or calls that need to be made. I sit down with my day planner and jot down all the things I need do accomplish the next day at work. Then when my head hits the pillow, I don’t let myself think about it.

Create a wind down routine
In addition to writing a to-do list for the next day, you can also set your clothes out or pack what you need for work. Then, go through your bedtime ritual, such as washing your face, brushing your teeth or even taking a shower. Now it’s time to relax in bed with a book or practice deep breathing.

Stay put if you wake up
If you wake up in the night, stay in bed in the dark and do some deep breathing or visualize things that help you fall back to sleep. However, if you find that you’re worrying or becoming anxious, get up and do something quiet and relaxing until you feel sleepy again.

Review your medications
Some medicines for high blood pressure can cause insomnia, as well as antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft. If you’re having sleep troubles, you may want to discuss your medicines with your doctor.

Get it checked out
An occasional restless night is most likely normal. If you have difficulties sleeping or insomnia for more than a month, it might be time to take a deeper look. Chronic insomnia may merit a visit to the doctor to have your sleep habits evaluated.

Remember that everyone’s sleep habits are different. Finding out what works best for you may take some experimenting and learning by trial and error. Try some of these tips to discover the sleep formula that works best for you!

8 Serious Dangers of Sleep Loss

sleeping-1094329-mYou know that feeling when you haven’t had enough sleep. I very rarely get a full night’s sleep. I fight going to bed like a 2-year-old child. But then, the next morning I am dragging around, irritable and simply not at my best. I swear I will go to bed early that night, yet I will stay up late again.

You may already know that lack of can affect your memory, concentration and mood. You may be surprised to learn that there can be even more serious side effects to sleep loss.

Here are 8 serious dangers of sleep loss and insomnia:

Health issues
One of the biggest reasons to get more sleep is to avoid the risk of developing serious, chronic diseases. Studies have shown that people who suffer from insomnia and sleep loss also have a chronic health condition. These common diseases include stroke, heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure and diabetes. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Serious accidents have been linked to poor sleep and fatigue. Some of the world’s biggest disasters may have involved sleep deprivation, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. Sleep loss can be dangerous in everyday life, too. Driving when tired can slow your reaction time as much as driving drunk. You are also more prone to accidents and injuries at home when you’re tired.

Over time, lack of sleep can contribute to the symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that people who suffer from anxiety and depression often sleep less than six hours on average a night. Insomnia has the strongest link to depression. Insomnia and depression can feed on each other. Lack of sleep can aggravate depression symptoms, and being depressed can make it more difficult to sleep.

Impaired judgment
Sleep plays an important role in your thinking process and learning. Lack of sleep impairs your cognitive processes in several ways. You are less alert, have trouble concentrating, reasoning and solving problems. These side effects of sleep deprivation also make it difficult to learn and put forth your best effort.

Weight gain
Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite. There is a link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. Sleep loss can also stimulate cravings for high-fat and high-carbohydrate foods. Throwing your appetite out of whack also increases your likelihood to overeat, and this may contribute to obesity over time.

When you sleep, your brain consolidates memories, which helps make the things you have learned throughout the day easier to access and recall. Your brain also transfers short-term information to where it can be stored for long-term knowledge. This transfer occurs in the deepest part of the sleep cycle, so losing sleep can hurt your long-term memory and contribute to forgetfulness.

Aging skin
While one night of missed sleep can lead to puffy eyes or dark circles, continual sleep loss can cause more lasting skin damage. Sallow skin and fine lines across the face, as well as dark circles, can become more permanent over time. The elasticity of the skin can also become more damaged when you don’t get enough sleep.

Manage stress
Your mind and body can do a better job of managing stress when you are more rested. Fatigue can put an added strain on your body and contribute to anxiety and make it more difficult to make decisions. Stress can also be harmful to your overall well-being and make it harder to maintain life balance.

Learn more about improving your sleep habits in our blog “11 tips to getting a good night’s sleep.”