According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 50-70 million Americans have a sleep or wakefulness disorder and a recently published headline on the CDC website read “Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic.” Epidemic? Whoa! And it’s not much different in Canada.
In fact, sleep clinics are opening up across the continent and hotels are adding amenities like total blackout technology and dawn simulator alarm clocks for tired guests. Spas featuring sleep therapy – like Yelo Spa in NYC where you can nap in five minute increments at $1.00 per increment for 20-40 minutes or the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa with Dr. Sam Judah Sugar’s Sleep Health Programs – are also doing their bit to fight the sleeplessness plague.
But what can you do at home to ensure that the rest you get is going to help you feel better, look better and even foster weight loss (see earlier November 19/2012 post “The Inside Skinny on Sleep”)? First, it’s important to know that sleep quality comes from a combination of phases – REM which consolidates learning, dumps unneeded memories and relaxes the mind, to Phases Two, Three and Four, that restore the immune system and repair and rejuvenate the body. We dip in and out of these phases during the night, normally in a series of 90 minute cycles, and it turns out that by quieting the mind before we hit the hay, the better our chances these cycles will be regular and accomplish all the restorative and rejuvenating benefits to mind and body that only sleep can give us.
The experts tell us that 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night, depending on our age, is necessary for good health and happier and better lives. Here are some tips, suggested by Dr. Matt Carter in his webinar A Good Night’s Sleep for a Better Day’s Wake: The Sleep and Learning Connection, and Pritikin’s Dr. Sam Sugar:
To get to sleep?
- Develop a regular 5 to 10 minute routine that signals the body it’s time to sleep
- Keep a notebook handy and write down your “to-do’s” rather than lie there and think about them
- At least 20 minutes before bed, avoid bright screens – including computer, TV and phones that disrupt your circadian rhythm – and turn down the lights
- Avoid carbohydrates, including alcohol, fatty and/or spicy foods after 7:00pm
- Take a warm bath or shower – water soothes and relaxes
- Keep your room temperature cool – throw on an extra blanket if need be
- Meditate or breathe deeply concentrating only on your breath
- Listen to music with a slow beat – it helps the brain’s neurons start firing together
- Avoid the gym or other exercise in the evening that stimulates your metabolism
- Read a book – not a page turner that keeps you awake, but one that you can put down after a few pages
And to wake up?
- Don’t abuse the snooze button – it fragments sleep
- Expose yourself to light
- Look at your smart phone screen
- Drink water
- Listen to music with a faster beat
- Stretch your eyes by looking back and forth, up and down
Most of all? Don’t stress about your sleep, try the above and buenos noches!!