How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Posted: 1529 days ago in Lifestyle

sleep

Are you sleeping well every night? Do you wake up refreshed and ready to face the day?

Ha! Yeah, right. Me neither.

One of the most common complaints I hear from patients – and one that I sometimes have myself – is the inability to get to sleep or stay asleep.

Zzzzzzzzz…… WHAT!? HUH!? WHO!?

Since sleep is the only time that your body has to rebuild and rejuvenate, it’s critical that you get adequate, good quality sleep most nights.

How’s that, you say?  

Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Adopt a relaxing ritual before bedtime. For me, that means a warm bath and / or a cup of camomile tea.
  • Don’t have any caffeine or alcohol after dinner.
  • Turn off all screens (phones, iPads, TV’s, etc.) at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Have a small, high-protein snack before bed, like some cheese or a few nuts.
  • Keep a notepad by your bed to jot down things that may keep your brain spinning all night.
  • Keep your bedroom on the cool side (for me, that’s around 68 in the winter and 70 in the summer).
  • Try to wake up at the same time each day. On weekends if you’d like to try to ‘catch up’, take an afternoon nap rather than sleeping a few hours later.

Despite doing most everything right, it’s still not unusual to have an occasional sleepless night because life is a complicated bi-atch, isn’t she?  If that happens to me, I take a natural sleep aid like melatonin or valerian root.

Sleep is sacred. Don’t skimp on this very important factor in your quest for good health!

Got Sleep?

Posted: 1806 days ago in Lifestyle

gotsleep

Ughh.

I love when I wake up before my alarm clock – but I’m talking like 5 minutes before it rings, not 3 hours. When it comes to sleep, there is almost nothing worse than waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 3:00 am.

You can lie there for a while, but if you’re like me, you may have to eventually surrender to the process. I mean, you’re up anyway so you might as well be productive. Either way, you are still going to have those Gucci bags under your eyes from exhaustion.

There can be many reasons why someone would wake up in the middle of the night, many of which you can probably guess, like having to pee, or concerns about a big meeting the next day. The reason that bit me in the butt today is most likely one that you haven’t considered, which is low blood sugar.

Those of you that get “hangry” – or bitchy when you are hungry – probably have blood-sugar issues. If you don’t eat well for dinner – say you eat only simple carbs, or finish with a huge dessert – it can wreck havoc with your blood sugar. Your body will think it’s starving, and wake you up so that you can eat.

I’m a believer that sleep is sacred – so we can’t have that.

If you can anticipate this, having a healthy, protein-laced snack before bed may be helpful. I’ll throw down a few cashews or some almond butter on an apple to get me through the night. If I’ve been on a carb bender, this is often enough to get me back on track with eating well and sleeping better.

Try it! Let me know how it goes.

Goodnight, Sleep Tight, Make Sure Your Spine is Lined-Up Right!

Posted: 1911 days ago in Health

lineduprightI know. I know. It’s really comfy to sleep on your tummy. But do you know how bad it is for you?

Do me a favor, take a break from reading for about 30 seconds and turn your head all the way to one side. Then hang out there.

(I really mean it. Do it, now….)

Now imagine you held that position for, oh, I don’t know, say like eight hours. How do you think your neck will feel? Like crap? Exactly!

There are few people who do not experience neck or back pain at some point in their lives. If you are a stomach-sleeper, I can almost guarantee that you will not be one of those people.

In addition to forcing your neck to one side, stomach-sleeping causes your belly to sag into the mattress, messing with the natural, healthy, front-to-back curvatures of your spine. In short, stomach-sleeping is the worst way to spend your nights.

So what’s the best?  Sleeping on your back or side, with pillows to support your spine in a neutral position, is optimum. (see picture for reference)

sleeppositionsWant to know what your spine should look like while you sleep? Stand up nice and tall. Take a peek in a mirror, and see how your trunk is aligned. This is exactly the goal when you sleep.

If you are on your back, tuck your pillow under your neck, not your head, to support the very important C-curve of your upper spine. Consider using a contour pillow designed specifically for this purpose. If you prefer the fetal position, like I do, make sure your pillow doesn’t allow your neck to angle down or up, but be perfectly in-line with the rest of your spine. On a good night, I tuck a pillow between my knees to help keep my hips nice and level, too.

Sleep should build us up, not tear us down. Now that you know the dos-and-don’ts of sleeping postures, try your best to correct any bad habits.

Wishing all of my readers a good, healthy night of sleep!

Goodnight, Sleep Right!

Posted: 1921 days ago in Health Lifestyle

take a lie downA few weeks ago, my family and I took a last minute getaway to the beach to capitalize on the tail-end of the warm weather.

There I was, near the ocean, relaxing just shortly after waking, not a worry in the world. I should have been having a lovely morning. Really. It was sunny and clear on a beautiful day. The dogs had been walked, the family was fed, the house was clean, and I didn’t have even one thing on my to-do list.

It was truly a day to recharge my batteries.

However, I was just a little bit grumpy, because my mattress sucks. You know I love my sleep, but even a solid eight hours on this mattress didn’t do it for me. Which brings up the question, what kind of mattress is best?

How I wish there was an easy answer for this question, but alas, there is not.

The bottom line is this: if you wake up feeling better than when you went to bed, your mattress is probably working for you… even if it is a leftover from your college days and has more lumps than your mother-in-law’s mashed potatoes. Too many people spend many thousands of dollars on the latest, greatest mattress gimmicks (pillow tops! space foam!) only to report, grim-faced, that they wake up sore and cranky after a restless night of sleep.

Mattress manufacturers do not make it easy to comparison shop, either. Companies will call the exact same mattress by different names for different retailers. This makes it impossible to price-shop or even to differentiate between the high-end and economy versions. I generally recommend that patients buy from a retailer that will stand by their product and accept a return, since you really don’t know if a mattress will work for you until you try it.

Ultimately, we should be spending about a third of our lives in our beds, which means it behooves us to make sure that our mattresses add to our lives and longevity, and not detract from them.

So, spend a good amount of time at the store on your back (and no, you naughty girls, you may only test-drive them for sleep comfort, not acrobatics!).

If you love the idea of a pillow-top, buy one that you can take off or replace. Mattresses that have integrated pillow-tops tend to break down quickly, are difficult to rotate, and impossible to flip. Don’t assume pricier models are superior, either. Moderately priced models often get you exactly what you need.

And though every person has different likes and dislikes, there is a type of bed that I have never heard a complaint about, though I can’t personally endorse it since I don’t have one myself: Select-Comfort, the “Sleep Number” bed. If you’re really particular, I suggest checking it out.

So there you have it.

Time for a nap!

In My House Sleep is Sacred

Posted: 1974 days ago in Lifestyle

sleep is sacredIf you know anything about me, then you’d know that sleep is absolutely sacred around my house. Without it, people (meaning me – and you!) can quite literally turn into zombies. Think about it:  we break down our bodies all day with the business of living. That includes walking, talking, sitting, standing, thinking, exercising, eating, breathing, pooping, and more.

When we are going to build our bodies up again? While we’re sleeping!

You can think of an infant. 90% of their first weeks are spent asleep and that’s because so much of their energy is going towards growth. Without sleep, infants wouldn’t be able to grow nearly as much as they do. This is also why teens have an increased need for sleep, because their brain development is peaking. We sometimes tend to think that once their physical development is complete that their need for sleep should decrease, but that just ain’t so. Their emotional and mental development actually accelerates, and this neurological growth consumes a great amount of energy, which is why you have a hard time getting your teen out of bed until early afternoon.

So many of us reading this are mentally, physically, and emotionally mature, and yet even we as adults still have a need for deep quality sleep.

Why?

Sleep is the only time our bodies have to repair the damage we’ve done, and to rejuvenate our bodies, giving us a fresh start the next day. So if our days are longer and our nights are shorter, we’re constantly going to be functioning at a deficit.

What’s the harm? This kind of constant lack leaves us extremely vulnerable to illness, injury, and disease. And think about it; when responsibilities are placed on us, what’s the first thing to go? Sleep.

My message to you: Don’t discount it! No medicine in the world can replace the benefits of regular, good quality, adequate sleep.