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Posted on 06-19-2013
I see way too many people and patients in my Monroeville Chiropractor office that don't get enough sleep and when they do, it's often poor sleep. That's bad news from a health perspective, both in the short and long term.
According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, "a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality [death]."
Suffice it to say, and I tell patients all the time, that sleep is a big deal, which makes ensuring you get enough sleep of prime importance. Here are five ways you can get better sleep:
1. Wind down: Transition from your busy, hectic day at least an hour before bed so you're not up half the night. Stress and sleep are bad partners, so your pre-sleep routine should emphasize calmness and relaxation. One thing I tell my Penn Hills Chiropractor patients regarding work stress is this: Literally say to yourself when you leave work, “I’m going to leave these work issues here and pick them up in the morning, I don’t want to take them home with me”. Sure it sounds dumb to do, but believe me, it does work
2. Exercise early: Physical activity has plenty of health benefits, but if you work out before bed, it can make sleep difficult as it boosts your metabolism and gets your body really going. On the other hand, exercising first thing in the morning will make sleeping at night easier because your body will be fatigued after a long day. Exercising right before bed can leave you amped up, sore and/or unable to settle in for a long, relaxing night's rest.
3. Shut the fridge: Put police tape around the fridge after dinner and you'll likely get better sleep because your inability to pursue late-night eating (cheating) will let your body relax and doze off. The premise is simple, if you think about it: The body is a factory, processing and burning food all day. If the factory doesn't close for the evening, it keeps on processing – and you stay awake while it does. Essentially, if you eat too close to bed time, your body has to work to digest the food, thus keeping you more awake.
4. Timing is everything: Ever heard of a circadian rhythm? As sleep goes, it's our body's internal/biological clock and it runs on a 24-hour schedule. To maximize restorative sleep, regulate your internal clock by going to sleep and waking up at around the same time every night and morning, respectively. It might be difficult to go to sleep on a regular schedule because of various factors, but you can usually control when you wake up – it's just a matter of willing yourself (don’t hit that snooze 12 times in the morning!)out of bed.
5. Don't push it: One of the worst habits of chronically poor sleepers is the tendency to push it; to stay up longer than the body is willing. Sometimes that's unavoidable, but too often Americans spend hour after late-night hour glued to the TV (or these days, the computer and smart phone), fighting off sleep and suffering the consequences. When the body says rest, listen and go to bed. You'll be thankful you did. Current studies actually show now that the glow of a smart phone can actually inhibit sleeping.
One thing that I also personally do is use some quiet, white noise to help sleep. It’s really soothing and can block out little noises that might otherwise wake you up or cause you not to sleep. I have this exact thing here. I use it at home and it’s small enough to take on trips.
Thanks for reading and I hope you are getting good, or now better, sleep.
-- Dr. Brent Shealer – Monroeville, Penn Hills, Pittsburgh Chiropractor
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