We all heard it as children, “Go to bed”, “You need your sleep”, “Turn off the tv”.
We were all told to get a good night’s sleep. As an adult 6-8 hours of sleep is a good goal. Anything less can begin to
have adverse effects on our health.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to our mental and physical health. As it turns out our parents were right. Its no longer cool to brag about how little sleep we need. Because it’s not true!
The New York Times recently declared that “sleep is the new status symbol”. There has been a lot of research to show that our cortisol levels increase when sleep deprived. This is a hormone that responds to stress. Lack of sleep can lead other hormones to go into imbalance which can increase heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight, as well as weakening our immune system and affecting us mentally.
As we age, we have sleep problems. As we are stressed we have sleep problems. As we become “too” tired, we have sleep problems.
For awhile it was touted to take an over the counter sleep aid, or Benadryl…then along came Ambien, and then Ambien CR (because we then couldn’t stay asleep).
Approximately 20% of Americans suffer from sleep/wakefulness disorders.
A minimum of thirty minutes before bedtime do one or any combination of the following to assist is a good night’s sleep.
- Turn off the tv, computer, tablets, kindle, and phone.
- Meditate. Even if you have never tried meditation, just sit or lie quietly, in a dimly lit room. You may have a candle(s) or dim light on. Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose to a count of 6, and out through your nose to a count of 6. Try to rid your mind of all thoughts. Picture “darkness” as you concentrate on your breathing. Just 5 minutes of meditation can do wonders to relax your mind and body.
- Take a warm shower or bath (with relaxing epsom salts and essential oils).
- Have a cup of hot tea or warm milk.
- Use a white noise machine. There are many apps (even for free) that you can set a timer and choose your favorite white noise sound.
- If you have light-colored or no curtains, invest in “room darkening” curtains to keep the light out.
- Remove technology, especially those with blue lights. These may be small and seem insignificant, but can truly affect our eyes. If you have technology that you can’t remove (e.g., security system control pad, cable tv box, alarm clocks) try wearing a sleep mask to block the light.
- Use a room diffuser with your favorite essential oil. You can find an inexpensive one on Amazon. Lavender and Chamomile are two scents known for their sleep benefits.
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