Are you having trouble getting enough shut-eye? The Sleep Doctor, Dr. Michael Breus, gives you his top tips for a good night's sleep!
• Do One Thing at a Time: Nicotine is a stimulant and it does affect your sleep. If you are trying to quit smoking and solve your sleep problem, you are in for a rough ride. Pick one or the other, but not both. Of course I want you to work on both, just not at the same time.
• A Glass for a Glass: If you drink alcohol, remember that while it may make you fall asleep quickly, it prevents you from reaching deep sleep. Drink one glass of water for every glass of alcohol. Not only will it slow down your drinking, but it will prevent you from getting dehydrated, which is why you get a hangover!
• Wean the Bean: Drink higher-caffeinated beverages in the morning and move to less-caffeinated ones in the mid-afternoon. Try to move to fruit juices and water by 2 to 3 p.m. While many of my patients tell me, "I can drink an espresso and go to bed," they may be correct, but the sleep they are getting is more jittery than they are!
• Watch Out for the Double Whammy: If you are going out with friends and have a few drinks (see the second bullet point) try to get to bed on time! Most people do both; they stay out late and they drink too much. No wonder they feel horrible in the a.m.
• Cardio not Cappuccino: Exercise, specifically 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic, is one of the single-best ways to improve the quality of your sleep. Research shows that those who have a regular exercise program get deeper sleep.
• Timing is Everything: Some people get relaxed from exercise, while others get energized -- which one are you? If running relaxes you, then do it about four hours before bed.
• Let There be Light, Just Not at Bedtime: Light is the single biggest factor telling your body that it is morning. In the evening, use a book light for reading, change bulb wattage to 45 at the bedside table, and use a night-light in the bathroom to get you there and back to sleep.
• Bothersome Bed Partners: Kids, pets and snoring bedmates can disrupt sleep. If you have any or all, make a new set of rules: Silence is golden. Consider earplugs with a noise-level rated at 32 or below so you can still hear the fire alarm, or a sound machine.
• Pillow Talk: Your pillow should be replaced every year. If it has just "broken in," what is to keep it from continuing to break? Choose a pillow based on what side you sleep on, whether you have back pain and if you have allergies! Check out www.sleepbetter.org.
• TV or No TV? That is the Question: Many of my patients sheepishly tell me that they sleep with the TV on. Well, so does my wife! If it helps, then I am fine with it, but put it on a TV timer so it does not keep anyone up the rest of the night.
• No Tummy Rumbling: Avoid large meals for at least two hours before bedtime. But don't go to bed hungry. Cereal and milk, apple pie á la mode, even cheesecake can be good (not an entire cheesecake) before bed. A study showed that high-glycemic index foods eaten four hours before bed can help you get to sleep. Milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which has been shown, in research, to help people go to sleep.
©2009 The Sleep Doctor, Michael Breus, PhD www.TheSleepDoctor.com