Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Having Trouble Sleeping? Try These Deep Sleep Snoozing Tips

This time of year I often seem to struggle with getting a good night's sleep. I'm not alone - with the long daylight hours, lots of activities going on, and hot muggy nights, summer is one of the times when many have problems getting enough rest. If you're like me, this week I'll share some tips on getting a proper night's sleep - naturally and without resorting to drugs that are potentially addictive or have harmful side effects.

 (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
Sleep is an important part of the body’s repair cycle. If you are not getting the right type of sleep, then you may not be resting as you should. This can lead to increased stress and health issues like a lowered immune system. Here are some tips to help you snooze better.

People don’t realize how much sleep they need. If you miss a few hours during the week then you can make it up on the weekend, right? Wrong! Catching up on sleep is a hard thing to do. Because we are often neglecting sleep for other activities, your deficit can be so large at the end of the week that you’d have to sleep all weekend to make it up.

The better idea is to get the sleep you need each night. There are different levels of sleep. The deepest level is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is when you begin to dream. It takes about an hour and a half for you to reach this stage. If you are tossing and turning it can be hard to get to this level.

During this stage, the eyes move back and forth. Muscles get most of the blood flow (besides the brain) for repair. All unneeded systems are shut down or kept to a minimum. Breathing is shallow.

But, reaching this level is hard for many people. You can help yourself out with a few tips.

Falling into Deep Sleep

* Eat nuts before bed – We have all heard about tryptophan and its effects. You don’t have to have a turkey dinner to get tryptophan - eating walnuts has the same effect. They are a healthy superfood. One serving can help you to begin to feel sleepy.

* Use natural scents – Essential oils like lavender and chamomile can help get you in the mood to sleep. Try misting your pillow with an essential oil spray, or just spraying the air so the scent lingers. This can help you get ready for bed each night.

* Take a bath – If it works for your baby, it will work for you. A warm bath can help the body to relax and the muscles to unknot from the day.

* Adjust the temperature in your bedroom – Some people sleep better when the room is a bit warm. If needed, open the window if it's warm outside, or place your comforter or blanket in the dryer for a few minutes to warm it up. I am the opposite, and I don't sleep well when it's hot - I sleep best in a cool room with a light blanket. Listen to your body, and experiment to find out what temperature you sleep best at.

Camomile herbal tea by Twinings
Camomile herbal tea by Twinings (Photo credit: clifico)
* Drink tea – If you don’t like warm milk, try a hot cup of tea. Be sure it is decaffeinated or you will be up instead of feeling sleepy. Try an herbal tea like chamomile or lavender.

* If none of these tips work, you may wish to try taking melatonin. It's cheap, and available over the counter in supplement form. Take it 1/2 to 1 hour before bedtime, and make sure you have at least 7 to 8 hours before you need to get up, as it will make you very groggy. If your problem is waking up in the middle of the night, try a dual release formula. Melatonin is a hormone, so you may wish to consult with your physician before taking, and try not to take it all the time -  only when you really need it.

Are you having a hard time snoozing? Deep restorative sleep is needed to stay healthy each day. Use the tips above to regain your nightly rest.

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