March 13, 2012

USE YOUR BED TO SLEEP AND GET OUT OF IT IF YOU AREN'T ASLEEP:

Are you practicing good 'sleep hygiene'?: For various reasons, about 75 million Americans don't get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer some tips. (David Lazarus, March 13, 2012, LA Times)

To achieve lasting results...you have to address the causes of sleeplessness and change your behavior accordingly.

In the sleep trade, this is known as having good sleep hygiene.

The CDC recommends avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine anywhere near bedtime. It also advises skipping large meals and vigorous exercise as rock-a-bye time approaches.

A key element of good sleep hygiene is acclimating your body to a regular schedule. That means trying to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends turning your bedroom into "a cool, comfortable sleeping environment that is free of distractions."

The foundation also advises keeping a "worry book" next to the bed. If anxiety is keeping you up, write down what's on your mind, jot down a few ideas about how to cope with things, and then forget about everything until morning.

There's also a technique called "sleep restriction" that's worth considering (It worked for me). If you get into bed and often toss and turn for an hour or more, start going to bed later at night, while still getting up at the same hour each morning.

That may sound counterintuitive for someone who wants more sleep -- and it certainly wipes you out for a while -- but the idea is to provide deeper, more restful sleep by limiting your time under the covers to the hours you're actually catching z's.

As you become more proficient at staying down, you gradually try to lengthen the amount of time in bed until you get closer to the seven or eight hours most experts say is preferable.
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Posted by at March 13, 2012 6:17 AM
  

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