All there is to Know about Healthy Sleep

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been running errands as quickly as possible, just so I could get home to do housework that I’ve neglected after being at the office all week. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking, at times, that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I’m commonly tempted to spend more and more hours awake, just to get more stuff done. But how important is all of that “stuff”? Many people don’t realize it, but much of your health and happiness depends on the amount and quality of sleep you get each night. People who sleep more go to the doctor less often and are less stressed. Eventually, going to bed later and waking up earlier will catch up to you. This kind of lifestyle is extremely unhealthy. But what can you do to stop the cycle? Knowledge is power! In order to learn about relieving your sleeping tensions, you must first learn about sleep itself. Sleep is scientific, and sleep is emotional. Most of all, sleep is different for every single person. Learn the basics here and then begin to examine your own sleeping habits. Find out what you can do to change unhealthy habits while promoting the good habits. When you get more, healthier sleep, your life will drastically change for the better! The Stages of Sleep First and foremost, let’s look at sleep a bit scientifically. No two people sleep in the same way, but there are general stages of sleep which each person experiences. They are broadly separated into two types: Rapid Eye Movement Non-rapid Eye Movement Rapid Eye Movement sleep, known as REM sleep, is the stage of sleep in which the brain is most active. However, for most people, REM also causes the body to be inactive. Most of your dreams happen in REM sleep. Scientifically, your electroencephalography (the measure of electrical activity in the brain) has a fairly low voltage during REM sleep, and you appear electrically similarly to when you are awake. NREM (Non-rapid eye movement) sleep, however, accounts for more than 75% of your total sleep time, on average. With NREM sleep, your brain rests, but your body may be active. Most sleepwalking occurs during the NREM sleeping time, which falls into four sub-stages: stages 1 and 2 are “light” sleep, while stages 3 and 4 are “deep” sleep. The sleep cycle occurs once every 100 minutes, on average. This varies from person to person, but without all stages, the sleep you get isn’t very healthy. For the typical person a sleep cycle should play out like this:

Stage N1 (Non-rapid eye movement): This is period of sleep when you are first drifting off. During stage N1, your body many twitch as your muscles release excess energy, and you wake up easily to noises and other sensations. Some people experience a mixing of dreams and real life during stage N1, which I’m sure you’ve experienced at some point or another! Stage N2 (Non-rapid eye movement): About 50% of your sleep time will take place in this stage. Your brain actively inhibits processing, which shows up on an electrical readout as a “sleep spindle.” During this time, you begin to lose awareness of your surroundings, and it is harder for external sources to awaken you. Stage N3 (Non-rapid eye movement): The third sleep stage is when you fall into a very deep sleep. This only occupies about 5% of your sleep time, probably due to the evolutionary survival instinct that one needs to be aware of one’s surroundings. Most night terrors, sleepwalking and talking, and bed wetting occur during this stage. Stage N4 (Non-rapid eye movement): Stage four is an even deeper form of sleep than stage three. Your brain slows down and is allowed to rest. This stage is extremely important for healthy sleep. Stage R or Stage 5 (Rapid eye movement): Categorized, of course, by the rapid movements of the eye, this stage of sleep is the transitional stage. It is common to have dreams during this period, and your dreams can sometimes be very strange indeed. Don’t worry; it’s normal. The sleep cycle is regulated by none other than you! Your body controls sleep via the brain and the hormones it produces. External factors, such as your body’s “need” for sleep also come into play. In other words, when you’ve spent all day running a marathon, the body will automatically try to allow you to fall asleep. Why is Healthy Sleep Important? But who really cares about the sleep cycle if it’s not clear why the sleep cycle is actually needed. Sleep is about more than juicing your body for another busy day. Healthy sleep actually dictates almost all parts of your life, simply because sleep has a large number of functions. Scientists are still exploring all of the implications of sleep, but what we do know is that sleep is needed for you to live a normal life. Healing: During sleeping, the growth hormone’s level in the body spikes, especially during stages three and four. The immune system is also affected. Haven’t you ever noticed that you are extra tired when you have the flu? Without sleep, you can’t growth and heal. That’s a major reason why children need more sleep than adults.

However.Memory: If you’re studying for a test. In today’s world. it also changes. The function of sleep is probably not primarily memory. When it comes down to it. This is especially true in teens going through puberty and young adults. sleeping was the body’s natural way to keep the mind occupied in a safe and secure place. you’ve probably found it hard to concentrate. Some theorize that during sleep. The brain also builds and repairs itself to better adapt. Lack of sleep also can cause you to overreact to situations because you aren’t thinking clearly or become ill because your immune system isn’t working to its full potential. irritation. most scientists believe that sleep also . and here it arises again. but evolutionary-wise. your mind is tired and you can’t mentally function. and some scientists even argue that long-term memory is not possible without healthy sleep. the body doesn’t simply grow and heal. That all sounds a bit scientific. Studies have show that most people are affected mentally and perform lower on general cognitive tests. he or she will be more likely to disagree with everything and throw temper tantrums. Weight: Because sleeping triggers the production of certain hormones. stress. Illness: I’ve already talked a bit about sleep’s healing powers when you are sick with the flu and other illnesses. but it does help an awful lot! Protection: I talked a bit about evolution and sleep during the sleep cycles discussion. the brain takes the day’s offerings of food and increases the production of proteins and hormones. Lack of sleep has also been linked to the onset of diabetes. Think about it – you’re less likely to be eaten if you’re sleeping in your cave then if you’re roaming about! Anabolic Concerns: During sleep. Studies have shown that retention of material greatly increases with a good night’s sleep. Without sleep. Sleep keeps you safe. Here’s how the above “sleep functions” translate into the real world when you lack healthy sleep: Mood: Lack of sleep has proven to many to cause anger. and general unhappiness. this may not be such a huge concern. We’ve all had a few sleepless nights. based on the learned knowledge of the past few days. Cognitive performance: If you’ve ever tried to do a rigorous mental activity after a night of no sleep. Your memory needs sleep. You can see this in small children especially—when a child needs a nap. you need sleep to function properly from day to day for more concrete reasons. those who do not get enough sleep are at risk of becoming overweight. the worst thing you can do is pull an allnighter! However. Without sleep. your body is tired and you can’t physically function. think back to your high school or college days.

and yet only a small percentages of suffers are every positively diagnosed! Narcolepsy is cause when the back lacks a certain neuropeptide (chemical) that controls wakefulness. It depends on the individual sufferer. Here are the most common sleeping problems. talk to your doctor right away. worsening symptoms in the evenings. frequently awaking at night. Unlike in the movies. contributing to cardiovascular disease. The problem is that doctors don’t routinely ask about sleep (although this trend is changing). If you aren’t getting enough sleep. tingling legs. Don’t let your problem go undiagnosed. o Symptoms: excessive sleepiness during the day even when you’ve gotten a full night’s sleep. instead of finding that restful. and remember—the sleep you get needs to be healthy in order for your body to reap the benefits. and the constant tossing and turning will cause you to only sleep lightly. they actually suffer from a sleep disease. sufferers of sleepwalking literally walk in their sleep. the need for several naps per day. making it more difficult for you to fall ill in the first place. a person who is narcoleptic suddenly begins too sleepy to control falling asleep. inability to relax. improvement of symptoms by moving Sleepwalking: Also known as somnambulism. Spending all of your time catnapping won’t get you anywhere! Sleep Problems and Diseases Some people don’t just suffer from a lack of sleep. Cardiovascular disease: When you sleep. deep sleep. o Symptoms: uncomfortable sensations in the legs that can only be stopped by moving. It also carried over into sleep. but it can happen to anyone. sleep really does affect your life. characters with narcolepsy fall asleep suddenly. restlessness. so finding the problem and curing it as best you can is important. Note that in movies. Everyone is affected differently by lack of sleep. That means that you should be getting longer periods of deep sleep. The person is not acting out a dream. especially in the beginning of the night. sleepwalkers do not have their . This puts you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. This is not always the case in real life. your blood pressure drops. irresistible urges to sleep.helps to boost the immune system when you are healthy as well. sleep paralysis. The onset of sleep can be much slower. hallucinations. Children are more prone to sleepwalking. cataplexy (the loss of muscle function while remaining conscious). your blood pressure may rise over time. It’s not normal to have problems sleeping. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. healthy. In a sense. Narcolepsy: This is one the most serious sleep disorders. As you’ve seen in the last section. insomnia Restless Leg Syndrome: RLS has recently become more widely diagnosed. This irresistible urge to kick or otherwise move your legs when you’re trying to fall asleep can prevent you from drifting off. and most of the time the person will never remember doing it.

a patient with sleep apnea will actually stop breathing for ten seconds or more. start looking for patterns. you have a sleeping disorder. allergies. Those who suffer from sleep apnea rarely notice any breathing problems while awake. most people do not actually walk anywhere when they are technically sleepwalking—they simply sit up in bed and look around for a while before lying down again. overactive thoughts. fear. However. stress and anxiety. but is not always. Sometimes. caffeine. Of course. they may look glazed over). which only lasts for a few nights is common for every person (for example. It hurts the person who snores and it hurts the person who sleeps near them! At least 30% of people snore. It can be. Sufferers have risk of heath attack or death increased by 30%! During sleep. or even continuously. excitement. a sign of sleep apnea. There are a number of other sleep disorders as well. doing activities during the night that you don’t remember. your days begin to be less enjoyable. irritability. you begin to acquire . the bottom line is that if you aren’t getting restful amounts of sleep. and it is caused by nasal obstructions. you may not be able to sleep because you are nervous about a job interview). o Symptoms: pauses in breath at night while sleeping. Night terrors and sleep talking are both sleeping disorders. and some are much more serious. the sufferer can’t determine a reason at all. decreased libido Insomnia: This is a broad category whose only symptom is the inability to sleep or remain asleep during the night. grieving. This can be caused by depression or bipolar disorder.eyes closed when experiencing an episode. you should see a doctor right away. or lack of food. fat gathered in the airway. some problems with sleeping are more common than others. If you grind your teeth at night. if the insomnia lasts for more than two weeks. making this very hard to diagnose. drowsiness. restful sleep. stress Sleep apnea: This is one of the scariest sleep disorders because many people suffer from it and it can cause death if left untreated. high blood pressure even during sleep Snoring: My dad snores. Transient insomnia. right? Note that some problems with sleeping can happen that are not necessarily related to any specific sleep disorders. That doesn’t mean that the effects are any different! When you’re not getting healthy. Also. medications. but rather have them open (however. pain. o Symptoms: awaking in an area where you did not fall asleep. inability to concentrate. Children who experience bedwetting have a sleeping disorder. This may occur many times during a night. o Symptoms: audible snoring every night. See your doctor right away if you believe you may be at risk—better safe than sorry. Some believe that when you don’t get enough healthy sleep every night. and throat weakness. muscle tension. drowsiness. and let me tell you…count yourself as lucky if no one in your life does! Snoring actually has two negatives effects. snoring. However.

due to school responsibilities. Ironically. but every person should get at lest seven hours each night. and part-time jobs. Try to allow this by going to bed early enough to get seven hours before your alarm clock begins blaring. etc) Uncomfortable sleeping arrangements Heat or cold Pollution Allergens Illness Poor body positioning Noise Hormonal changes Non-typical sleeping arrangements Uncomfortable clothing Is your Sleep Healthy? At the end of the day the important question is: Are you getting the right amounts of healthy sleep? There are two important parts to this question. Puberty puts a lot of pressure on teens. Answering these questions can help you determine if you need to change your sleep patterns or daily activities in order to have more restful night’s sleep. The average adult actually would . keeping in mind that you may need 15 minutes to an hour to actually fall asleep. Lack of sleep can be caused by a number of things. The average child should be getting at lest nine hours of sleep every night. depending upon age and upon your personal routine. money. if not more. In fact. is the sleep that you are getting healthy. the worse your health will be. More than seven hours is fine. Younger children and babies should sleep even longer—up to 16 hours every day. This varies from person to person. Some of the most common causes are: Genetics Stress (family. As a child ages to his or her teenage years. job. children physically need more sleep than adults. this is a time in a person’s life when they often get the least amount of sleep. Let’s start with talking about the amount of sleep you need. after-school activities. this number does not go down. Adults need slightly less amounts of sleep. do you get enough sleep and second. First.sleep debt. it increases. Have you ever wondered why children take naps and adults do not (most of the time)? Well. As you go longer and longer without paying that debt. and so they need more sleep to cope (about 10-12 hours per night).

However. However. Obesity is on the rise world-wide. without the use of alarm clocks. which. but the fact still remains that we have an alarm clock in our brains that tells us to sleep at night. Our internal clocks also tell us that we should catnap in the mid-afternoon. This catnap also mentally prepares us for the “hunt for food” for dinner. Also. and for the first few months of this routine. but that doesn’t mean you’re done for! Over time. Food and Drugs Our eating habits. There are natural chemicals in alcohol that do make you drowsy. If you could. collectively as a society. This is due to the fact that we are not able to see well in the dark—it’s an evolutionary survival technique. and irritable during the four hours you are awake if you aren’t getting healthy sleep. you may still feel tired. how much sleep is normal for your body? If you typically allow yourself nine hours every night and then suddenly get a new job where you must wake up an hour earlier. OK. That may not be the case anymore. The world also has a drug problem. so to speak. your body can relax and find healthy. human beings are “programmed to sleep” between the hours of midnight and 7 A. When you stick to a routine. in warmer climates. therefore. and some adults feel as though they need at least ten hours to feel rested. So what happens if you have a night job or other responsibilities that dictate a change in your sleeping habit? Well. then. how long would your body sleep naturally? Trying heading to bed early every night for about a month and seeing when you naturally awaken. Watch what you put into your mouth! Alcohol is first and foremost one of the major causes of unhealthy sleep.M. deep sleep. The first reason that sleep is unhealthy is because a person doesn’t stick to a routine. alcohol actually has a negative side effect .” That’s the most important part of the whole ordeal. Stick to your schedule.enjoy eight hours. most beneficial to stay inside. approximately. Losing even as little as one hour (even if you still get seven or eight hours of sleep in total) can hurt your body. one person can’t purely control the effects of evolution. figure out a way to keep this schedule. so you’ll be able to adjust to sleeping during the day instead. this takes time. so many people enjoying drinking a “nightcap” to help them drift off. you should begin going to bed an hour earlier at night. What is healthy sleep? Your Biological Clock First. It causes our internal clocks to…well…break. stink. but is your sleep healthy? Even if you get 20 hours of sleep every day. If you’re going to take a night job. are you listening to your biological clock? Naturally. Notice that I’ve said “routine. The key with timing is to do what works for you. ill. you can “reset” your clock. More and more of our food is prepackaged instead of natural. All of the things we ingest affect the health of our sleep. is typically when the weather is hottest and it is. you won’t be able to get healthy amounts of sleep.

most people realize that they should not use stimulants before bedtime. but nicotine alone takes up to eight hours to leave the body! Also. sometimes the very pills they prescribe to help you with other health problems may cause you to miss out on the deep sleep stages. because of work and family responsibilities. Other drugs have similar effects. but does not give you relief. When you drink alcohol. which is found in cigarettes. the amount of sleep you get isn’t the same as the amount of healthy sleep you get. you’ won’t be getting the healthy sleep you need. If you’ve ever drunk too much. the key here is to get enough healthy sleep prior to that alarm sounding so that you would have waken up very soon naturally. You body must stay fairly alert in order to digest this new food. Now. Namely. although drugs in many categories can hurt your healthy sleep cycle. there are lots of bad effects of eating within a few hours of going to sleep. and doctors and scientist alike have studied the effects this has. However. we are working against the natural sleep-awake cycle that out body dictates. you may have felt this effect. When we set a sound to wake us up at a certain time. This is true even with prescription medications. Alcohol makes you tired. This isn’t the case.on the sleep cycle. and when you wake up. . most people assume that they can use these stimulants if they still have no trouble falling asleep after doing so. stimulants found in our everyday lives can also cause you to have unhealthy sleep. Learn about the drug’s effects on your sleep cycle. so not only will you have trouble falling asleep. Cutting Yourself Short Deep sleep and REM sleep are the most important stages of sleep in the sleep cycle. Although doctors are beginning to realize the importance of sleep. If you wake up before your body has the change to experience these stages of sleep. Remember. in the case that you oversleep. which is found in soda and tea. Any kind of food can really disturb your healthy sleep if you eat it close to bed. even if you got a lot of sleep before waking up. you will not feel as rested. you transition more quickly through the deep sleep stages. and caffeine. Actually. Speaking of drugs. Alarm clocks are not your friend. Always ask your doctor before you begin a new medication. The day after drinking. Most infamous for disturbing sleep are drugs used to treat blood pressure. Of course. Alarm clocks should only be used as a safety. That means that you’re only sleeping lightly. but you will stay in the light stages of sleep when you do drift off. staying longer in stage one and two instead. Make it your goal to find the right balance so that you naturally wake up about a half hour before your alarm sounds. there is a good chance that you do need to use an alarm clock to ensure that you wake up in time every morning. nicotine. are most volatile. you probably had the urge to spend some extra time in bed. but almost all agree that a meal or anything larger than a few bites is a bad thing. Some agree that a small snack in the evening can help your body (especially if you’re trying to gain weight and muscle mass or boost your metabolism).

you can’t control many of the changes that happen in your body. Males also go through puberty. and the lack of sleep causes the disorders to worsen. but your healthy sleep can also be affected by schizophrenia. The real problem here. and this hormone makes it easier for a person . However. We cycle through the stages of sleep at least four or five times every night. Changes in the Body Like psychological disorders. The menstrual cycle great effects sleep. Also unfortunate is the fact that this is usually a slippery slope. and a variety of other mental illnesses. Even if you only miss a few minutes of sleep every time you wake up. These disorders also contribute to stress. is the REM sleep. but at the same time. A nap would need to last at least 90 minutes to go through the sleep cycle just once. bipolar disorder. The disorders cause a lack of sleep. these changes aren’t done. women begin to produce more of the hormones need for getting pregnant and giving birth. as a teen. prolonging the effects of unhealthy sleep. Taking a few catnaps during the day will allow you only light sleep. if you wake up every time you’re just about to enter deep sleep. Psychological Disorders Unfortunately. for women. though. many people who suffer from psychological disorders also have disrupted sleep patterns. not the healthy sleep that you need. Truth be told. Progesterone is found in the body in great quantities during the second half of a woman’s cycle. of course. what happens if you live in a noisy area (for example) and the passing traffic wakes you every a few times every night. Therefore. and at this juncture of life. Instead. However. you have to start from the beginning at stage one. in turn. Make sure that your nap is truly needed. aren’t the only reason for waking up and missing valuable REM sleep. of course. most people don’t. and don’t have naps become commonplace. due to the hormone progesterone. catnapping during the day can make you less able to fall asleep at night. though. you shouldn’t rely on naps to catch up on your sleep. again.Alarm clocks. you’re really missing out on the deep sleep and REM sleep that you need. Take naps carefully. but staying asleep is what really hurts the health of the sleep you do get. While stress is not a disorder on its own. everyone has to adjust to new sleep routines. You need to listen to your own body! Women are especially affected by bodily changes. you can respond to them in order to continue getting a good night’s sleep. Short naps all of the time won’t be doing you any favors. Imagine. You have to start from scratch every time you wake up. Psychological disorders can make it hard to fall asleep. And. This start a vicious cycle that is hard to break. Naps Naps can be great if you really need the extra sleep. Anxiety is the big culprit. depression. The reasoning here is the same as above. napping should be used for special occasions when you didn’t get enough sleep at night. it only adds to the pressure those with mental illnesses feel during everyday life. First.

60 Tips for Healthier Sleep We’ve talked about how sleep works. there are general rules for finding that perfect sleep—the sleep of your dreams (literally!). Make sure that you’re sleeping in the dark. We’ve discussed common sleep problems. Proper amounts of exercise are crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. Invest in some heavy curtains or blinds. Now. 7. If you have to change your sleeping habits. The answer? Learn to adapt to the changes in your body. Replace your mattress. unfortunately. do so gradually. so many women find it hard to sleep the day before their period starts. but understand that at certain times in your life. Having restful sleep all of the time is important. you may be more prone to skipping REM and deep sleep. Start by shifting one or two hours at most. We’ve even gone over the amount and types of sleep a person needs. Buy a mattress you love. every few days and give your body time to adjust to the new arrangement. so try to get moving for at least 30 minutes every day. even if you have the chance to sleep later. that doctors wont ask either. Old mattresses are less comfortable and can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. 5. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each and every day. Talk to your doctor about sleep. 4. Here are 60 tips for healthier sleep. Even low-impact exercise is great. That said. During menopause. let’s talk about ways you can make healthy sleep possible. . This is especially crucial if your job requires you to sleep during the day. Take extra steps during these times to control your sleep. Our brains are receptive to light and you’ll naturally find it hard to sleep if it is too light. and the sleep that you do get may not be healthy. Like I said sleep. every person is different. Exercise. Get the discussion rolling! 2. 6. Many older women have trouble sleeping as a result. Progesterone drops significantly just before menstruation begins to occur. Less than half of all patients never mention sleep to their doctor. progesterone production is also much lower. even if they are having problems. no matter who you are or what your current quality of sleep may be! 1. Test the mattresses in your price range first to make sure that you find something that will work for you. Have a schedule for sleeping. Chances are. 3.

Although this won’t allow you to cycle through all stages. Napping cannot replace quality sleep over long periods of time. Instead. you’ll be able to fall back asleep fairly quickly and avoid waking up again. Try to stop smoking if possible. tea. keep it short. Don’t assume that herbal remedies have no affect on sleep. Living without an air condition can be good for the environment. Avoid becoming too cold! Our bodies experience a temperature drop at night. This can make is extremely hard to drift off and you’ll be more likely to wake up in the middle of the night. make sure that you cool your house in order to have a more comfortable sleeping environment. . so while you may be warm enough when you fall asleep. Cool your home in the summertime. 12. If you do decide to nap. Avoid nicotine. for you and your family. Learn about the negative sleep side effects of any drugs before you take them (whether the drugs are legal or illegal). In fact. there’s the chance that you’ll wake up in the middle of the night shivering. Don’t nap late in the day. when you take naps longer than 45 minutes. 11. It’s a cycle into which you don’t want to fall. but it can also be bad for your health. coffee. Note also that those addicted to nicotine may find themselves awakened earlier than normal because the body is going through withdrawal. 16. but you shouldn’t rely on them. During especially hot nights. because nicotine is a stimulant. Relax in the evenings. Treat these like regular prescription drugs and avoid any that hurt the health of your sleep. Keep an extra blanket by the side of the bed so that if you do wake up. 9. They do.8. which means that you’ll get less sleep and need a nap again the next day. spend your nights winding down from your day. Even in the morning. purchase one to use on an as-need basis. like television watching a reading. you’ll find it hard to wake up and even harder to fall asleep again at night. 15. Napping after mid-afternoon can cause problems falling asleep at night. Avoid caffeine. soda. 13. If possible. and chocolate aren’t your friends. Limit your naps. That means you’ll find it hard to fall asleep at night and harder to reach the deep stages of sleep you need to be healthy. don’t exercise in the five hours (at least) before you plan to go to sleep. 17. Put away the work and plan quite activities. Try to find decaffeinated alternatives. It takes eight hours for that caffeine to leave the body. Don’t exercise right before bedtime. You can use naps occasionally to make up for sleep. 14. 10. 18.

Traffic. Make sure that the volume is low and that there are no spikes that will wake you up. 25. Keep a sleep log. Get a quality pillow. so if you can’t sleep. There’s no need for both people to suffer! 23. right? Learn about your treatment options. it is causing a bit of insomnia. as well as what has happened during your awake hours. What’s the use of a great mattress if the most important part of your body—your head—isn’t supported correctly? Don’t go cheap here. also make sure that this noise isn’t loud enough to wake you up. put it in the office or living room. If you believe that you may have a problem. Make sure that your bed is large enough. Your back pain may or may not be caused by the mattress you have. 27. and the weather can all cause noise that may wake you up in the middle of the night. Keep the bedroom for sleeping. This alone helps you feel tired. 28. Listen to music. can help you determine causes. Use a comfortable pillow. 21. get out of bed and do something until you’re ready to try again. If you have a home computer. Having a TV in the bedroom is fine. get out of bed. Take baths at night. your body temperature will drop minutely. You should both have enough room to sprawl a bit without bumping into one another or laying in awkward positions. but don’t use it for watching a program that you could easily watch in your family room—save the television in the bedroom for shows that you watch to help you fall asleep. Close your windows if possible. It’s better to subconsciously associate your bed with sleep. This is especially important if you’ll be sleeping with a partner. but in any case. 20. 24. Go to the doctor if you have back pain. A hot bath helps to sooth your body and mind. If you’re suffering from insomnia. Have a backup plan when sleeping with a partner.19. and when you step out of the bath. . If you or your partner is restless. This is one of the most common reasons why people have a hard time sleeping. make sure that you have another bed or couch where you can retreat for the night. tracking your sleeping patterns. Close your windows. Soothing music on a low volume is a get way to help yourself fall asleep and transition to deep sleep. Keep it that way. which means that it is not perfect for most other activities. animals. passer-bys. 22. which is mimicking what happens when you fall asleep. Your bedroom should be the perfect sleep environment. 26. If the machine playing the music is on a timer and will shut off during the night.

you’ll also be more comfortable with this working when you are asleep. low sound level to you. a fan creates a bit of noise. it is easier to breathe. When the air is circulating. making it easier to transition through the sleep cycle. Lose weight. Avoid activities that cause you stress. Keep the clock out of site. make sure you do it every night. You’ll also be able to find a comfortable position more readily. 36. If you must have a clock nearby. but most importantly. Don’t forget the sunscreen! 31. 35. Your mind. it’s time for sleeping soon!” 32. Whatever you do. . They work hand in hand! When you lose weight. should have some time to relax to prepare for sleeping. Healthy sleep can help you lose weight and losing weight can help you have healthier sleep. why not try a white noise machine? These gadgets can help to bring a soothing. depending on your climate and preferences) running. Looking at the clock anxiously every time you’re worried about falling asleep will only make it harder to finally drift off. it gives you a burst of energy. This might include things like taking a bath. 34. On top of that. Studies have shown that having at least 30 minutes of sun exposure during the day can naturally help you sleep at night. You know you own body. This isn’t a good thing when you are trying to fall asleep! You should treat sugar like you would caffeine. Sugar can kill your diet. in general. keep it turned away from you so that you have to actually move in order to check the time. For example. especially right before you go to bed. Use a fan. paying the bills can wait for the morning. Avoid sugar before bedtime. Have a nightly routine. Speaking of noise. We’re creatures of habit. Treat PMS and menstrual problems before you go to bed.29. Humidifiers are your friends. 37. reading a book. you’ll have less pain problems and be less likely to snore. and a little noise can make it easier for sleeping than if you’d try to fall asleep in complete silence. 38. “Hey. The use of white noise also blocks sounds for the outside world so they will be less likely to wake you up. 33. and if you are more comfortable when awake if you have the humidifier (or dehumidifier. Get outside during the day. 30. and having a routine will tell your body. or engaging in religious activity.

the same chemical found in turkey and the reason that everyone likes to sleep on Thanksgiving afternoon. 47. talk to them about the importance of everyone (including you) getting a good night’s sleep. This will prevent you from waking up during the night because you have to use the bathroom. 44. is a good idea. Make sure you go over the side effects of each drug that you’re considering. We talked about the need to cut food out of your life a few hours before you go to bed. Something high in carbs. Medications to help you sleep were once very dangerous. Milk contains tryptophan. like a plain bagel or a few pretzels. Many people find that they experience insomnia when they are worried about something. Schedule sleep into your day. 48. Have a very. Find a mattress that you can share with your partner. so it is noisier. This sounds a bit weird. 45. 46. but if you’re regularly not getting enough sleep. Rugs help to muffle sound.39. Talk to you kids about sleep. but it also creates a lot of echo and sound. If possible. When they are old enough. Look for a mattress that you can both enjoy or consider the electronic beds that allow you to adjust the firmness of the mattress. and your fluffy mattress may be agonizing to you. . Reduce stress in your life. Use a covering over your eyes to block out any excess light that may be waking you up or preventing you from falling asleep in the first place. 42. Drink a small glass of warm milk if you’re having trouble sleeping. Consider sleeping aids. if your job is stressful. start to work with your children to find a sleep pattern that has everyone waking up around the same time. 40. Everyone has a different idea as to how much support is most comfortable. Don’t go to bed hungry. you won’t sleep well if your stomach is rumbling. even if it is best for him or her. 41. Also. and can still be dangerous if you abuse them. but at the same time. help them learn how to play quietly on their own for an hour or two before you wake up. Try not to drink anything for at least three hours before you go to sleep. and tell your doctor about the other medications you take that may interact with the sleeping pill. This chemical naturally promotes sleep. Use rugs in your bedroom. Not only is a hardwood floor cold on bare feet in the morning. Sleep needs to become a top priority. 43. right it in your day planner. don’t bring your work home with you. Try to keep stressful parts of your life quarantined. Cut out this worry! At the very least. very light snack if you need it. but they can also help you.

having a dog or cat in your bedroom is typicall not a good idea. If you feel tired. petting. Count sheep! This really does work. 54. You don’t have to necessary literally count sheep. until morning. This is not your only choice. In a perfect world. Make sure that sleep is a priority for everyone in your household. Use relaxation techniques. Don’t stop trying to find that healthy sleep. address this problem. Dust and other airborne allergens can make it hard to breathe (and in effect. this will happen to every couple (hence the tip about having a retreat for nights you’re finding it difficult to sleep). Close the notebook and mentally close the issue in your mind until morning. sleep) at night. try to come to an agreement with your neighbors as to what times should be deemed community “quite” hours. Address problems with your partner. have a specific area in another room where the pets sleep and try to start a bedtime routine for them (especially dogs) so that they understand that you won’t be available for playing. Animals simply have different sleeping schedules. 53. In fact. Although Fido may enjoy curling up at the foot of your bed. 55. 56. No . all married couples would sleep together every night without incident. 50. Some people find it easiest just to give up and live their lives with sleep deprivation. Using them during the day can help you feel calmer all of the time. Many companies and massage therapists sell CDs that prompt you to relax yourself. If your partner snores or otherwise wakes you up in the middle of the night.49. find help. Have a house rule that everyone should be quite between certain hours. 52. consider sleeping in the nude if that’s what is most comfortable to you! Take into consideration material and tightness of the clothing. Once in awhile. especially when lying down. They may feel like playing at three in the morning! Instead. That includes mom and dad too! If you live in a group environment (like a dorm building or an apartment building with common spaces or thin walls). Help to cut stress by writing down any problems that you want to remember to solve in the morning. Clean your bedroom. or feeding. 58. These really do work. You don’t want anything scratchy or too tight. Wear comfortable clothing to bed. Have your pet sleep somewhere else. but this world is far from perfect. making it easier to fall asleep at night. 51. but visualizing and doing a monotonous activity can help to wind down the brain. but if this is an ongoing issue. go to bed. Don’t make yourself stay up to watch your favorite TV show—that’s what TiVos and VCRs are for! 57.

By volunteering for these studies. and senior citizens need even less sleep. This was tip number one. However. keep in mind that every person is different. our bodies never shut down. Talk to your doctor. our bodies do need rest and yes. ok.” . Now that you’re an adult. studies have shown that the brain is more active during sleep than during certain activities while awake (such as watching television). a number of these myths begin with a shred of truth. However. The sad fact is that most adults are averaging way less than the recommended 7-8 hours every night. You shouldn’t automatically assume that you need less sleep because you are an adult. While yes. Being able to discern the truth from the myth is the most important part! “We need sleep because our body has to shut down to rest for a few hours. Stop comparing yourself to other people.matter how many tips and tricks have not worked for you. so in order to have the healthiest sleep possible. the activities the brain and body do during sleep are much different than the activities the brain and body do while awake. you will find that you are not only helping your problem and the problems of millions around the world. See your doctor today. Perhaps as a child you needed 11 hours of sleep every night in order to feel rested. However.” but don’t ever believe that the body is basically dead when it is sleeping. nine hours might be perfect. In fact. Participate in sleep studies. Ok. Let’s say that your neighbor’s child sleep for nine hours every night. “I can make up for lost sleep on the weekends.” The shred of truth here comes from the fact that yes. that doesn’t mean that you can deprive your body of sleep when it is tired under the assumption that you don’t need any more sleep. If nothing else. Also. but you can make a little cash as well! 60. 59. Sleep is very important for “rest. as with most myths. children do need more sleep than adults. Common Sleep Myths Don’t let these myths fool you! There are quite a number of misconceptions about sleep. you’d be amazing to find out how many people are having health problems but never go to the doctor’s office for relief. sleep provides rest. Scientists and other researchers are continually studying sleep in order to better help those suffering from sleep problems. it’s time to bust these myths! Please note that. you caught me. the brain has to keep running so that we continue breathing and our hearts continue beating! “Adults need less sleep. Continue to work with your doctor to help your sleep problems.” Not quite. there is always another tip or trick to try.

start changing that pattern about a week or two before you move. spend that time readying yourself for bed. you can work with your biological clock in order to get slightly less sleep. change your sleeping habits slowly. Sleeping for more every night won’t make a difference if you aren’t getting that deep sleep and REM sleep that the body so desperately needs. Make sure that there are no external forces. as long as the change isn’t drastic. for you to feel rested during the week. or pets. Remember.” This means that you accumulate lost sleep and you get more and more tired every day you don’t “pay” that debt. Over time.” Ok. since it effects not only the person who snores. you should take steps to stop. if not harder. you’ll feel more rested and awake every day of the week! “Getting less sleep is ok. . While this is somewhat true. start a routine for sleeping every day of the week. work at switching your sleep schedule to allow more sleep.” Just because hundreds of thousands of people around the world snore doesn’t mean that it is normal or healthy. you’ll see the effects. you may feel rested during those days. maybe 15 minutes here or there won’t change much. Adjust about one hour few nights. Instead of worrying about paying your sleep debt on the weekends. over a long period of time. Once you’re in control of the quality of sleep you’re getting. but it will be just as hard. allow some extra time in the morning and vice versa. Once your body adjusts. If you snore. but your body will notice when your sleep changes as little as one hour. Our bodies are really sensitive and we don’t like changes! If you decide to get one less hour of sleep at night. At first. and by the time your schedule changes for good. but the quality of sleep you get is much more important. Instead of going to bed an hour earlier. If you normally sleep from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM and will be moving to another time zone. but if that’s the time you have to wake up Monday through Friday. which will awaken you and take a hot bath to relax your body. “The more sleep you get. you won’t want to get up at 7:00 in the morning when you could very well sleep for another few hours.Many people believe that there is such a thing as a “sleep debt. Snoring have quite a number of bad side effects. you’ll be readily to sleep in a healthy way. like traffic noise. but also all who are sleeping within earshot. but this is generally not a good idea. If you have to go to sleep later at night. it isn’t as black and white as it seems.” Sleeping for long enough periods of time is very important. the better. the you can start adding more hours to your sleep time. Instead. If you sleep in on the weekends. “Snoring is normal. temperature changes. it is best to maintain this schedule.

Going to bed hungry will make you more likely to wake up and less likely to fall asleep quickly. Wrong.” While prescription drugs are one solution. so rule these things out to make sure that your problem isn’t a sign of something even more serious. Studies have also shown a link between snoring and heart disease. and often they are not even the best solution. which is a chemical that promotes sleep. When your body is trying to digest. it is important to note that they are not the only solution. Of course. snoring can cause sleep deprivation for your spouse and other members of your family. There are both medical and non-medical fixes. such as a bagel. avoid products with caffeine. especially deeply. you should avoid large meals or drinks. Of course. so it does slow down the body. Alcohol is a depressant (unlike nicotine.After all. eating a healthy snack before you go to bed isn’t a bad idea. Removing the stress from your life is also a huge player in insomnia. Yes. it will have a hard time sleeping as well. Still others insist that the exact time is not important—it is the number of hours before bed that you should count. You can also learn relaxation techniques from your doctor in order to help you fall asleep faster. so having a nightcap is a good idea. However. You should never. doctors have devised a number of solutions to snoring problems. you can take sleeping medications if that’s the option that is best for you. You don’t necessarily have to get surgery to stop snoring. “Medication is the best cure for insomnia. Keep in mind that you want to have a very small snack. and if that is the answer to your problems as determined by both yourself and medical professional. Some are even a bit risky to use. turkey. Others give a later time.” Some people say that 7:00 PM is the cutoff. At the very least. That’s why drinking and . Thankfully. like sleep apnea. and the answer to your problem could be as easy as learning to sleep on your side or wearing a mouth guard that prevents snoring. and yogurt are good choices. which is a stimulant). “Alcohol makes me sleepy. These people say that you should never eat or drink anything at all after the specified time. so that you don’t get a quick burst of energy like you would with a sugary product. Look for foods with carbs as well. insomnia is a side effect of a number of illnesses and disorders. Talk to your doctor today about your options. It simply isn’t healthy. Medications put you at risk for dependency and uncomfortable side effects. snoring can be a sign of more serious problems. and you want to make sure that the snack is appropriate. Look for something that has a measurable level of tryptophan. ever eat anything after a certain time at night. if you are hungry (and only if you are hungry). However. Of course.” This myth is more like a blurred truth than an all-out lie. consider the alternatives. Milk. and doing so can help you worry less.

so know your own body’s needs. pick a healthy beverage. get out of bed and do something else until you’re ready to try sleeping again. Driving while you are tired is dangerous to you and dangerous to other drivers. On that note.” Healthy sleeping means safe sleeping. but at the same time. Otherwise. but it shouldn’t be the rule. If you do choose to drink. the only safe thing to do is to pull off the road and take a nap for as long as possible. but it is generally bad advice. If you haven’t fallen asleep after about 20 minutes. your child should know that he or she can always come to you if needed. “If I feel tired when driving. allow him or her to sleep in your bed. I should turn up the radio and open a window.” This might be what you tell your kids to do. stick to other rooms for anything. you’ll be better able to care for your child or work during the day. Don’t site there doing bills or watch television in bed when you get home from work. having a drink before you head to bed can help slow the body so that you relax and fall asleep. do you remember what it was like in the morning? No matter how long you slept. But wait just a minute. Instead. it is also a good idea to avoid other waking activities in your bed. you should just close your eyes and pretend to sleep until you do drift off. such as a glass of red wine. An activity such as reading is a good idea. If you’ve ever drank heavily. In fact. The activity you choose should be low-impact and not strain the eyes (so avoid the bright lights of a TV. There are certain circumstances in which it is a good idea to have the child in the room with you. This is a bad idea if is effects your sleep especially. Therefore. So what should you do? Every person is affected by alcohol different. but instead of having a second or third person in bed. avoid the bedroom for these activities altogether if you can. You should try to keep you bed solely for sleeping (and relationship activities). Its important to find a solution that works well for everyone. why not try moving a small cot into your room? At the very least. This will not only make it difficult to sleep but you’ll also wake up in the middle of the night because you’ll have to urinate. Even if you use .” This is really the family’s call. If you are constantly disrupted during sleeping. you were probably still very groggy and you probably had not dreamed. solving his or her own problems is preferred. your body won’t associate it with sleeping. “If you can’t sleep. Alcohol also prevents you from entering the deep sleep stages of the sleep cycle. Alcohol will typically not help you sleep in a healthy way. “If your child has a bad dream.driving is such a bad idea—you can’t react as quickly. Also avoid drinking too much. and if you are tired when you are driving.

it is still very possible for you to fall asleep at the wheel. Avoid simply pulling to the side of the road. “People who sleep late are lazy. They can help you to determine if you do or do not have a problem. one being “not sleepy” and four being “very sleepy. Primarily. remember to be safe when you pull over to sleep as well. enough? When is time to talk to your doctor about your sleeping problems? Actually. with the exception of maybe . lock your doors and. your best bet it to actually make an appointment. Driving your car Being a passenger in a car Watching television or a movie Having a conversation Lying down after lunch Reading Working Taking a walk Add all of your numbers together. If you can’t afford the time or money of getting a hotel room for the night. How Sleepy are you during the Day? On a scale from one to four. Although nine hours may seem long compared to your seven hours.aids like loud music. make sure that you are in a well-lit rest stop parking lot when you do so. check out these assessments of sleep. causing accidents that can sometimes be fatal. though. Also. parents should insist on at least nine hours of sleep every night. The Healthy Sleeping Quiz So when is enough. while anything over 15 is cause for concern. if possible. another person’s body may not respond well to only seven hours. However. you can sleep or nap in your car. What do you have to lose? If you’re just not convinced. That said. Keep in mind as well that age dictates the need for sleep.” Every person has a different need for sleep. your score for each answer should be 1. What does your score say about you? A score of 8 to 15 is moderate and normal. where you can easily go unseen and be hit by other cars. Teens are notorious for waking up late or falling asleep during class.” how sleepy do the following activities normally make you? Write down your answers for each. but this is simply because most teens never get enough sleep in the first place. Because of the hormonal changes happening in the body. if you’re considering talking to your doctor or even remotely worried about it. in the best case scenario. Avoid the dark corners of the parking lot. park close to the gas station attendant booth.

“lying down after lunch. If you do snore. and if you’re sleeping on an older mattress. Better sleep requires a lifestyle change. the old saying goes “I can sleep when I’m dead. If you don’t get enough sleep. Snoring can be irritating. Lack of sleep can account for failed relationships. Get a Good Night’s Sleep on Me I hope you’ll take the information we’ve talked about here and actually get a good night’s sleep tonight. Do you often feel drowsy during the day? Answer: No. Tonight. you should see your doctor to make sure that the problem isn’t more serious and to stop the snoring so as to not keep your family awake at night. If you do. How old is your mattress? Answer: 10-15 years at the most. regardless of what time you must be awake for work and other responsibilities. It can cause you to miss opportunities in life as well. but it could be a symptom of something even more serious. you should not feel sleep at all during the day. Afterwards. Remember. 5. Mattress do have a life. 4. your entire world will be affected. again. Take a moment to actually learn how to solve these problems in the best way possible so that tonight you can get that awesome sleep you’ve been wanting. you should see a doctor. and health concerns. answer the following questions. Do you snore? Answer: No. from the quality of your mattress to the temperature of your house to the stress your experiencing at work. sleep is one of the most important aspects of life. if you don’t sleep now. healthier life. Do you get more sleep on the weekends? Answer: No. Gross. For people who like to keep busy. 3.” Unless you specifically choose to rest in the afternoon. but these changes that you make today could help you live a longer. especially when driving. Feeling drowsy could not only mean that you’re not getting enough sleep. 2. You should be sleeping the same hours every day of the week. . Answering Some Sleep Questions Now. problems at work. that won’t be a problem. There are countless things that affect the way you sleep. 1. and it can be dangerous. you need to make some changes in your life. Sleep is necessary. you’ll see the “correct” response. How many hours of sleep do you get on the average night? Answer: 7 – 9 hours. Anything less would be “cheating” yourself from sleep. If your answer deviates greatly from any of these answers. you’re not getting the support you need and you’re sleeping with millions and millions of old bed bug colonies.” However.

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