17 Tips for Healthy and Peaceful Sleep …
Including 6 You May Not Know Of
While you're sleeping, your body is busy at work rebuilding and restoring muscle tissue, restoring your mental energy and conducting other important repairs. When you don't get this much-needed respite, your body will let you know.
Many Americans work for nearly three more hours than they sleep every day.
At first you may just feel tired, irritable or have trouble concentrating. But over time lack of sleep can lead to serious issues including an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, psychological problems, weight gain and even accelerated aging.
As it stands, many Americans are working far longer than they sleep every day; the average workday is nearly 9.5 hours long, but the average night's sleep lasts just six hours and 40 minutes, according to the National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) 2008 Sleep in American poll.
Of course, some are not even this lucky. Anywhere from 30-40 percent of adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia that make it difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. And if you've been sleep deprived for several days, you will create a "sleep debt" that will need to be repaid, meaning that you'll need to sleep longer than usual just to function normally and feel rested.
Top 17 Tips to Get Your ZZZZ's
No matter how you look at it, a good night's sleep is necessary for physical and mental well-being. The following tips will help you to not only fall asleep, but will ensure your night's sleep is peaceful and fully restorative. Be sure to read the entire list for some tips that may surprise you.
Small amounts of light in your bedroom can interfere with a sound night's sleep. Consider installing black-out drapes or wearing an eye mask to block out the light.
Exercise, ideally everyday. This positive stress will tire out your body in a good way -- just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime (within three hours), as it could keep you up.
Drink a cup of relaxing tea, like chamomile.
Stretch a bit before you lie down. You can literally stretch out some of the "kinks" and tension of the day.
Wear earplugs or an eye mask. If you can hear noisy traffic or see lights from outside, earplugs and an eye mask can give you the silence and the darkness that are ideal for sleep.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Take a bath before bed, brush your teeth, get into your PJs and turn on some soothing music that will let your mind know it's time for slumber.
Once you are in bed, listen to a relaxation CD like the Sleep Easy CD to help you "shift gears" and relax into sleep.
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Don't drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages near your bedtime.
Keep to a regular schedule that includes a standard time to go to sleep and wake up.
Make your room "sleepable." A very dark, cool room is best for sleep.
Get a handle on your stress. It is the number-one cause of sleep problems, according to sleep experts.
Put the kibosh on work before bed. If you work or do other mentally trying activities too close to bedtime, you may have a hard time relaxing for sleep.
And Now for Six Sleep Tips You May Not Know Of …
Get a new mattress. About 87 percent of people who purchase a new mattress say they are satisfied with their choice and its impact on their quality of sleep, the Better Sleep Council reports. Generally, a mattress' life span is five to seven years.
Evaluate your prescription medications. Certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs -- such as steroids, decongestants and drugs for high blood pressure, depression and asthma -- can keep you up at night. If you're having trouble sleeping, consult with your doctor to see if your medications could be to blame.
Make love. Sexual activity helps to relax your body!
Eat something. Feeling hungry can make it hard to fall asleep. A light snack, such as peanut butter on whole-grain crackers, can help you to get a good night's sleep.
Massage your feet, especially with warm oil, right before bed -- it's very relaxing.
If you smoke, quit. Nicotine is linked to difficulty falling asleep and problems waking up.
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National Sleep Foundation: Helping Yourself to a Good Night's Sleep
The Sleep Council
National Sleep Foundation: 2008 Sleep in America Poll