The list of debilitating effects of not getting enough Z’s just keeps growing and growing. We hear now that it may be partly responsible for our inability to shed the pounds (excessive cortisol production). It has a powerful adverse effect upon our hormones like testosterone, it increases our risk of cardiovascular issues, possible dementia, and all sorts of other goodies. Oh, and of course falling asleep in meetings or on dates isn’t a very pleasant consequence either. 🙂 But if you are one of the multitude of unfortunate sufferers, don’t despair, there is hope right here– just take a glance at these quick tips and facts:
If you aren’t spending enough time in that dark zone you must eliminate the variables, take care of the potential causes one by one. There is a reason why you are not “snoozing properly” you have to isolate and identify it.
- Have you gotten enough physical activity during the day? Sleep is intended by nature to be a period of rejuvenation for a day of exertion and expenditure. This does not mean that you have to grunt it out all day long, but if you can add anything physical to your routine you will relax much deeper and more soundly at night. Even a simple 10 minute vigorous walk will go a long way.
- Do you have a quiet, comfortable place to rest? Elliminate distractions and bothersome sounds, lights, etc. This is all common sense, but not always followed.
- Watch the stimulates and other “sleep busters” in the evening. Having a large meal too close to bedtime will wake you in the wee hours, drinking even a couple drinks or beers will inhibit restful sleep. Booze does not put you to sleep. More like it knocks you out. It disturbs normal sleep waves, and you very likely will not achieve any deep REM slumber. Also it may force you out of bed for that nocturnal bathroom trip. Whats more important – the rest or the drink?
- Put your mind to rest before your body. Take a couple minutes before hitting the sack to go over the issues briefly that may keep your mind racing later on. Try to make a short formal “summarization” of them before you shut the lights, try to make this your final thoughts on the matter for the night. I’ve instituted this routine for myself and experienced pretty good results. Try something similar.
- If all else fails there are all sorts of sleep aids on the market; with the exception of melatonin (a very healthful choice for myriad reasons), I don’t generally advocate them for long periods. Why? They can be addictive. At the least, when you go off them you need a readjustment period – not a pleasant thought.
How bout trying that simple old time remedy Grandma always recommended? Milk and cookies? Believe it or not this can be effective, because milk has tryptophan, and the cookies (one or two, not a handful!) provide carbs to wash competing amino acids away, enabling tryptophan’s eventual conversion to melatonin which is the sleep hormone. The scientific rational is there, and myself I’d jump for any healthful idea that also tastes good. Why not give it a try? I got it on my list.