I was recently commissioned by Bathing Solutions to give my thoughts on the following topic…
How much is enough?
Sleep needs very according to age. They’re also impacted by lifestyle and health. Some people feel happy and productive and wide-awake after six hours of sleep (I’m sadly not one of them). Others swear they don’t feel well unless they log a solid seven or eight hours. People’s needs vary, as do the numbers. Research says that there is no “magic number.” A 2005 study confirms this: sleep needs, it says, varies across populations, and further research is needed to identify traits hidden within genes that can unravel the mystery of needs vary so widely among people.
Here are 11 tips for sleep better:
#1 Eat well:
Foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan can cause sleepiness. Foods high in tryptophan include milk (soy milk as well), yogurt, beef liver, venison, calf’s liver, chicken and turkey breast, halibut, cod, tuna, scallops. Studies also find that eating easily digested carbs – like cereal, rice, potatoes or white bread – can help you fall asleep faster, if eaten four hours before bedtime. Avoid large meals too close to bedtime.
#2 Exercise daily:
Aside from its myriad health benefits, exercise helps you sleep deeper and more efficiently. The jury is out as to the best time of day; some think exercising too close to bedtime is a bad idea, while others recommend working out between 5:00 and 7:00 PM.
#3 Enjoy a relaxing with hot bath:
Thousands of seniors and challenged people aren’t able to enjoy this pleasure. For these people, a walk-in hot bath tub/shower is certainly not a luxury, but a necessity. Conventional hot bath have sides that are too high to step over for access and egress. And it’s virtually impossible to get up from a sitting position on the bottom of a conventional bath-tub. The fear of falling or being stranded in a tub makes even routine hygiene hard or impossible to accomplish. As you may know, approximately 65% of the accidents in the home are from falls in the bathroom. This is one of the major reasons people have to give up independent living.
Another benefit is that hydro-therapy is universally encouraged by physical therapists to help better sleep, improve circulation, and relaxes tired muscles and ease symptoms of arthritis, tendonitis, back pain and much more. While not a universal “cure-all”, it’s successfully used by thousands.
#4 Keep to your schedule:
Stick to the same bedtime and wakeup time. Staying on schedule helps regulate your body’s clock. It’s best to do these seven days a week, even on the weekends when you may be tempted to stay up later and sleep well into the morning. Realistic? Not sure. But worth a try.
#5 Keep naps brief:
If you must nap, keep it at 15-20 minutes to avoid nighttime sleep problems.
#6 Keep your bedroom cool:
Temperatures between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit are more conducive to better sleep.
#7 Establish a ritual:
A warm bath or a meditation helps put a divider between activities that rev you up and bedtime.
#8 Avoid bright lights:
Some research shows that exposure to bright light before bed disrupts sleep. And blue light, which is emitted from electronic devices like iPads and computers (even TVs), can make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
#9 Avoid caffeine after 2:00 PM:
Caffeine has a half-life of six hours, meaning that six hours after you take your last sip, half the caffeine remains in your body. Not a good thing if caffeine keeps you awake. (To gauge the effects of caffeine on your sleep, eliminate all caffeine from your diet for one week. If you are truly addicted and can’t go cold turkey, taper off gradually.)
#10 Avoid alcohol three hours before bed:
While a nightcap might make you feel sleepy, the truth is that rather than being a sedative, alcohol is a central nervous system suppressant and in quantities, becomes a stimulant.
#11 If you smoke, quit:
Nicotine is an even stronger stimulant than coffee. Not to mention all its other unsafe health effects.