7 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep

7 Jun

“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”  Thomas Dekker

Sleep is just as important as food and water.  In fact, throughout the ages, the cruelest of all tortures have included sleep deprivation.  Yet, we do this to ourselves on a regular basis.

Glutton for punishment?  Maybe.  The average American is only getting an average of 6 hours of sleep each night as opposed to the optimal 8 hours.

Sleep debt is not only painful but it’s downright dangerous, accounting for 1 in every 5 car accidents.  According to a 2000 study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers in Australia and New Zealand reported that sleep deprivation can have some of the same hazardous effects as being drunk.

Side-effects of Sleep Deprivation

  • muscle aches
  • confusion, memory lapses or loss
  • depression
  • hallucinations
  • hand tremors
  • headaches
  • bloodshot eyes
  • “bags under eyes” or eye puffiness
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased stress hormone levels
  • increased risk of diabetes
  • increased risk of fibromyalgia
  • irritability
  • nystagmus (rapid involuntary rhythmic eye movement)
  • weight gain and obesity
  • temper tantrums in children (and occasionally in adults)
  • yawning
  • symptoms similar to:  attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD)
There’s no need to be sleepless.  Here are 7 ways to get a good night’s sleep.

1.  IMAGINE a good night’s sleep.  Visualization has been touted as an excellent way to get to sleep by imagining peaceful things.  Drift off to a soothing breeze on a white sand beach, as the waves takes your stresses out to sea.  In your mind’s eye, see a cocoon of sleeping puppies or count sheep.  Take time to wind down so that transitioning from daily activities is easier.

2.  SLEEP in rhythm.  We have a “built-in clock” called the Circadian Rhythm.  It’s based on the sun.  The height of our energy source is around noon each day when the sun is its highest in the sky, so make use of those daytime hours to really get busy and save the relaxation for darker hours.

3.  CUT the distractions.  Sure, it’s nice to have a TV in your hotel bedroom but at home, it’s best to keep the TV in the entertainment portion of the home and the bed in the relaxation part.  Make the bed comfy and the room cozy.

4.  LIMIT alcohol within 4 hours of bedtime.  Alcohol is a depressant.  And while a second glass of wine at dinner may make you drowsy at first, as the alcohol wears off, it eventually leads to restlessness.  Something as simple a 1 glass of wine can pop your eyes open an hour after you’ve drifted into a dreamy sleep.

5.  DON’T EAT after 7 p.m.  An overtaxed gastrointestinal tract takes hours to settle down.  If you have to be bright-eyed for an early morning meeting or a day-break run, eat a light early dinner the night before, meaning about 500 or fewer calories of food and avoid anything that’s super spicy.

6.  WORKOUT EARLY in the day.  Vigorous exercise is extremely stimulating.  Going for a workout after work may be keeping you up half the night.  Go for heavy exercise during the day and try relaxation exercises in the evening.  Yoga and gentle stretching can help you turn off the stresses of the day and fall asleep more easily.

7.  NO NAPPING after 3 p.m.  A brief snooze midday can enhance productivity, but limit your siesta to 30-45 minutes.  If bedtime comes and you’re not sleepy, you may want to skip naps altogether.

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