Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Upgrade Your Life: Great tips for a better night’s sleep

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than two thirds of Americans aren't getting enough sleep, and a fifth of us may have major sleep disorders. No matter what our fast-paced culture says, this is a serious health problem, even an epidemic. This week's episode of Upgrade Your Life, Yahoo! News' Becky Worley shows us some of the newest ways to improve our sleep.

The basics
Your body's natural sleep rhythms are related to the amount of light in the room. So make sure to turn out the lights, cover the windows, and even use an eye shade or sleep mask if necessary. Also, don't drink anything for at least two hours before bedtime if you can help it. Those bathroom breaks can interrupt your deepest, most restful sleep.

Having trouble with noise in your sleeping area? Try earplugs; the cheap silicone variety for swimmers are the best at blocking out noise and staying in your ears all night.

New Sleep Products
Here's a new tip: According to a multi-university study, the natural antioxidants in tart cherry juice help regulate your sleep-wake cycle. The 15 older adults in the study had fewer night time wakings when they drank at least two cups a day, and they spent more time asleep, too.

Finally, lower back pain is a common complaint amongst adults, and a culprit responsible for nighttime waking and trouble sleeping.  Becky's found that using a foam roller helps stave off lower back pain in the night. It's like massaging your back ... and it works! Stretching the hamstrings before bed can help, too.

Smartphone sleep disruptions
According to a Pew Research study, 65% of us sleep with our cellphones next to the bed, and that number goes up to 90% for people age 18-29. It's true that phones make good alarm clocks, but they can wake you up when someone sends you a text, and they present a temptation to check your email and social networks. Engaging in work email or using Facebook can stimulate you just as you are falling asleep, and set your mind racing when you should be quieting it.

If you must keep your cellphone or smartphone nearby, try leaving it where you can't reach it. That way you'll have to get up to turn off the alarm, anyway. And smartphone apps can help you get to sleep by playing relaxing sounds.

Laptop-induced insomnia
Even worse than keeping a smartphone nearby are those late-night computer sessions. Again, your circadian rhythms are based on light, and the blue light that's put out by computer screens makes your body think it's still daytime. That keeps it from producing melatonin -- the sleep-inducing antioxidant that the tart cherry juice contains.

Talk to your doctor
None of the products Becky discussed this episode will cure your sleep apnea, or any other potentially life-threatening sleep disorders. There are no quick fixes for these. Talk to a doctor about them ... and sleep tight!
Article courtesy of Yahoo! http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/upgrade-your-life/upgrade-life-great-tips-better-night-sleep-160112326.html

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