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Sleep & Rest

Sleep: Is it possible to get more rest?

I appreciate the positive feedback about our recent blog (if you missed it, click here) and wanted to follow up on tools you can use to improve your sleep.  I heard from patients this week that “I want to sleep more, but how do I get more rest?”
As we prepare for great rest, we want to look at the three focus points for Sleep Hygiene: (1) Diet, (2) Environment, & (3) Habits.
DIET– You’ll want to ponder beverages and food.
  • Beverages: caffeine is a great starting point.  How late are you drinking coffee, hot tea, energy drinks, pop, or sweet tea?  Move it back before 2pm for all caffeine.
  • Alcohol: Research is very strong that adult beverages are a health benefit (we can cover this in a future blog).  Obvious caveats would be complications of medications, chronic diseases, addiction, or other psycho-spiritual factors–*talk to your physician.  For entire body health, women are likely to benefit from 1-3 servings, and men from 1-5 servings daily.  BUT, if you’re looking for healthy sleep, perhaps you should look for less than 2 servings in the evening, and cork that bottle within 2 hours of bedtime.
  • Drink this, not that: look for chamomile tea or another soothing herbal tea 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Food: is dinner after 7pm your largest meal of the day?  If so, make it 6pm or make lunch your largest meal.
  • Late-night snack: avoid.  If you have trouble fighting cravings, look to your dinner to have more fiber (Read: vegetables and legumes) and you will feel less urges at 10pm.  Evening sugar (desserts) are a recipe for a blood sugar spike and crash, leaving you awake and hungry at 2am.
ENVIRONMENT– Bedrooms are for two things…and both should be experienced in a healthy way.  Have you set your environment for successful rest?
  • TV: Is there a television in your bedroom?  Why?  That’s not one of the two things a bedroom is for.  Are you tempted to watch within 90 minutes of when you should be sleeping?
  • Light: Is the room dark enough?  Would an additional window treatment add 2 hours to deeper rest?
  • Sound: Could you benefit from a white noise machine?  There’s a reason they work so well for newborns and toddlers.  A constant sound is a cue to sleep as well as drowning out the other noises (eg snoring) you may hear.  I love this one: http://amzn.to/127K0AD  A box fan can also move air and provide gentle noise.
  • Temperature: Did you know you’ll sleep better if your body temp drops overnight?  It’s worth the A/C bill and a fan to get good rest.  Your health is worth the use of electricity.  For most of us, this means between 69-72 deg F at night.  Try one degree lower and see how you feel.
We’ll finish this list next week in our “Ask the Doc” feature on our blog.  I’ll talk about habits that might prevent you from great rest.  In the meantime, stay connected to our facebooktwitter, or blog and share any of your tips or success stories.  You might write down 1 or 2 “action items” that you are ready to improve to feel awake all day.