You eat right. You exercise regularly. You visit your Beach Cities Medical Weight Control center for the best in weight loss practices. You aim for a minimum of seven hours sleep each night, because you know that a lack of quality sleep is strongly connected to many health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Lowered immunity and increased risk of colds, flus and other illnesses
- Heart problems
- Lowered libido
And surprisingly, due to the effect on hormones, too many nights spent burning the candle at both ends greatly increases your chances of obesity and makes it much harder to lose weight.
But still, sleep might elude you. If you spend more time in bed tossing and turning than catching Z’s, your surroundings or your bedtime habits might be to blame. Here’s how to best prepare for your trip to the land of Nod.
Check the Thermostat
The ideal room temperature for the soundest sleep is on the cool side: right around 65 degrees. This allows your body’s core temperature to drop a degree or two during the night, an essential part of your sleep cycle.
Hide From the Light
Whether it’s coming from outside your window, down the hall from the living room or from your bed partner’s reading lamp, an overly lit room is a prime cause of sleeplessness. Use blackout curtains if outside light is the problem, or wear a sleep mask to block out indoor light.
Turn Down the Sound
Traffic noise from nearby roadways, loud music from your teen’s bedroom, neighbors partying or barking dogs… there is no shortage of noise in the average bedroom. If it’s keeping you awake, try earplugs, a sound machine, or a fan to block out the sound.
Cozy Up Your Bed
No one sleeps their best on an old, sagging mattress; or with a worn, lumpy pillow; or on itchy, pilled sheets. If your mattress is more than seven years old, it might be past its heyday. Pillows generally should be replaced annually; if the pillow does not spring back to its original shape after you fold it in half, it needs to go. And a splurge on soft, silky sheets is money well spent: 100% Egyptian or Pima cotton are the softest.
Shut Off the Electronics
The bluish glow of cell phones, tablets, computers and televisions trick your brain into thinking it’s time to wake up, instead of sleeping, by reducing your body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Make it a habit to shut off all electronics at least an hour before bedtime. You’ll sleep better and those text messages can wait until morning.
A small bedtime snack that keeps your blood sugar steady through the night will help you sleep. The keyword here is small: a few slices of cheese on crackers, a small bowl of cereal with milk, a slice of turkey wrapped around an apple slice, a glass of milk – these are all excellent choices. Forget anything with caffeine, alcohol, excessive fat, lots of spice, or an abundance of fiber. Your digestive system needs its rest as much as the rest of you. Sweet Dreams!