23 February 2010

Are You Sleep Deprived? Smart Tips 4 Sound Sleep

*** Lack of good sleep can create serious health problems. Here are some simple steps to better sleep every night.

*** Just ran this post over at The Healing Waters which was recently revamped. Since so many of us at this blog are night owls maybe this might be helpful. :) Let me know if you find it useful. If you have some great tips to add, let me know!

From Denny: We all have busy lives and sometimes can't sleep. With the rising unemployment and chaotic economy of late people are awake in the middle of the night, worrying about how to pay the bills. Stop. Getting your sleep is more important than ever when you are experiencing stress. Enough sleep will help give you the energy and good frame of mind to solve the problems of the day. Treat the business of achieving sound sleep like a job you love - with passion.

Survey of the sleep deprived

Self Magazine did a survey of its readers and found that 60% sleep less than 7 hours a night. 34% experience trouble falling asleep several times a month. 49% wake up often in the middle of the night and then cannot return to sleep.

What is keeping people awake in the night?

What is keeping most Americans awake nights? One third can't sleep because of the anxiety of the day, their minds are still worrying about work because they are worried about making enough money to pay the bills.

What happens when we sleep 7 or less hours a night?

What are the statistics on sleeping 6 to 7 hours a night or less? Not good. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night will cause you to gain weight. So, if you want to diet, then start sleeping more than 7 hours a night! At less than 7 hours a night you are also three times more likely to catch a cold.

When we are sleep deprived we tend to overeat easily and choose all the wrong foods like sweet or salty foods instead of complex carbohydrates.

What happens when we sleep 6 hours or less a night?

At 6 hours or less sleep a night our body and brain suffers worse. Especially, if it goes on for more than two weeks in a row. What can happen to us is that sleep deprivation impairs our memory, our reaction time like when driving a car and hurts our cognition. The college student who stays up all night before an exam always does worse than the student who studied the night before and then got enough sleep before the exam. In fact, going for two weeks on less than 6 hours of sleep a night is the equivalent of pulling two all nighters in a row. By then you are one whipped puppy, dragging and exhausted.

Did you know how sleep is helpful?

Getting enough Zzzzs can do the following for you:

* prevent cancer
* prevent weight gain
* fend off colds
* improve memory
* improve athletic performance

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Smart sleep tips:

Quality sleep can make us calmer, happier and healthier during our waking hours. It's important to start winding down one to two hours before going to bed. Here are some ideas to help you in the transition of your busy day into your night of good sleep.

* Dim lights and turn off technology one to two hours before bed. Sometimes, as a compromise when we are watching a favorite TV show right before bed, I start the sleep process by dimming the lights, locking the doors, feeding the pets about two hours before bed time. The dishwasher gets turned on as we climb into bed as what we laughingly call "the dishwasher lullaby." Our brains are trained to sleep by it.

* Start your winding down process one to two hours before bed. This is not the time to be active and empty the dishwasher and then get on a cleaning binge.

* Plan a routine, and stick to it, of when to go to bed and when to wake up and keep to it every day. Consistency is the key to getting regular sleep.

* Remember to unplug from your computer gadgets as that intense light tricks the brain into thinking it's sunlight and so the brain stays awake and alert.

* Skip your afternoon coffee. We all know it's a stimulant but did you know that caffeine can stay in our systems for up to 8 hours?

* Pass on that bed time glass of wine too. It may initially help you to relax but it soon acts as a stimulant. Alcohol also interrupts the brain's chemicals for sleep. It can also severely alter your breathing patterns, sometimes dangerously so.

* Try the hot bath idea if you are having trouble winding down from a particularly stressful day.

* Meditation or prayer time is always a helpful idea right before bed. It gives the brain a task to occupy it as you slow your breathing and then your brain relaxes too, calming and preparing to rest the body.

* A good idea is to keep the TV out of the bedroom. Your brain will gravitate to that magnetic field it emits and stay partially awake because of the light too. The end result is crankiness the next day and every day. If you are wondering why you feel tired a few hours after you wake up in the morning or are grumpy that could be one of the factors. Your brain was never able to get fully rested.

* The deeper stages of sleep require a cooler temperature in the bedroom. Turning down the heat, especially in your bedroom, assists the brain that is turning down the body's thermostat.

* If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night, then lose the clock. We all know that clock watching is a surefire way to end up awake all night. Of course, if you feel really revved up, then get up and go read a book. Sometimes, the brain just gets snagged and needs something different to help it change gears.

There are times I just use that time to pray. Most times that's what it is as your spirit wakes your conscious mind to pray. Go with the flow. Other times when I'm enegetic for no apparent reason in the middle of the night I realize I'm supposed to get up to write and come up with some wonderful creativity!

* Keep a journal by your bed for those creative thoughts or worry thoughts. Sometimes, I get snatches of a poem or phrases for an article for about an hour or two after going to bed. So, I just record them in my journal. As soon as I've done that my brain feels satisfied that the creative stuff got recorded for later development the next day - and then I drift off into a sound sleep.

If you are the worrying type, then record those worries of the day in your night time journal. Take a look at them the next day and start solving the problems. Somehow, they look easier the next day after you have fully rested.

Whatever you do, treat sleep like you are owning a precious jewel: get it insured by creating your best routine for a quality experience.

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