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This is the second installment of my new series on optimizing health. This week I'm focusing on an area of crucial importance to health and well-being: getting a good night's sleep.
In just this past week, new scientific studies have shown that:
Too little sleep can lead to poor dietary choices.
Improving disturbed sleep can help banish the blues and optimize a man's sex life (two new studies).
Regularly sleeping less than six hours a night quadruples the risk of stroke.
Even typical noises in a hospital can disturb sleep and interfere with recovery. (No surprise there!)
Many cases of poor sleep in adults are caused by fear of the dark. (Hey, it's okay to use a night light — and red light is best for not interfering with melatonin.)
All these recent studies point to the crucial connection between optimal sleep and optimal health. So here are my simple secrets for getting the ZZZ's you need to get your health into A-plus shape!
Good Sleep Starts With Good Habits
Optimizing dental health depends on regular brushing and flossing, or dental hygiene. In the same way, optimizing sleep depends on regular habits that are conducive to eight hours of restful snoozing — what experts call "sleep hygiene." As I describe in my book Real Cause, Real Cure — due out in paperback this August — just a few habits can make all the difference. Let's look at how to construct a day that will optimize your night.
8:00 am: Exercise early.
Too much exercise late in the day can stimulate the body, making it hard to sleep. A morning walk or workout is best.
4:00 pm: Stop ingesting caffeine.
Better yet, stop at noon.
7:00 pm: Don't drink alcohol after dinner.
A maximum of one drink a day for women and two for men is what studies show optimizes health. But if you drink too late in the day you can spike blood sugar, leading to a drop in the middle of the night — and an early awakening.
8:00 pm: Prop up your feet.
Fluid that normally pools in your legs will "flow upwards" and be urinated out before you go to sleep.
9:00 pm: Keep late-night beverages to a minimum.
If you avoid drinking fluids an hour or two before bedtime, you'll be less likely to wake up with a need to visit the bathroom.
10:30 pm: Snack at bedtime.
A light, high-protein snack at bedtime keeps blood sugar stable throughout the night, and that's important for a good night's sleep. My favorites are a slice of turkey, a handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg, a chunk or cheese or soy cheese.
11:00 pm: Take a hot bath.
You'll soothe your mind, relax your muscles, and slip into a deep sleep once you hit the sheets.
11:05 pm: Optimize your sleeping environment.
The best bedroom for sleeping is cool (around the mid-sixties), dark, quiet (wear earplugs for near-total silence) and a sanctuary where you don't work, watch TV, pay your bills or try to solve problems.
11:10 pm: Shift your mind to a lower gear.
If your mind is racing when your head hits the pillow, focus your thoughts on things that feel good and don't require concentration or problem solving. Think a happy moment … time spent with your children or grandchildren … your dog romping joyfully in a field … a double rainbow.
3:30 am: If you're tossing and turning, make a list of your problems. Then forget about them!
Many folks wake up in the middle of the night, start worrying, and can't get back to sleep. Instead, get out of bed and write down all your problems on a piece of paper, until you can't think of any more. Then go back to bed. Do this as often during the night as you need to.
7:30 am: Get up and get going!
If you have problems sleeping, you probably think that increasing the amount of time in bed will increase the amount of time you sleep. But staying in bed longer creates a classic pattern of poor sleeping: deep sleep in the beginning of the night; shallow sleep in the middle with lots of wakefulness; and eventually sound sleep — but only when it's time to wake up. To counter that pattern, limit the amount of time in bed to no more than 8 or 9 hours.
Follow the same routine every day.
Getting out of bed at the same time every morning (even if you've slept poorly) resets your body's internal sleep/wake cycle, helping you fall asleep faster and sleep throughout the night.
Try natural sleep aids.
Many nutritional and herbal supplements can help promote restful sleep. Look for sleep-inducing ingredients such as theanine, hops, wild lettuce, Jamaican dogwood, passionflower, and valerian. All 6 of these can be found in combination in the Revitalizing Sleep Formula herbal mix. Magnesium, as well as D-ribose (Corvalen) can also be helpful, as can melatonin in small doses (0.5 milligram).
Is your mind wide awake at bedtime?
This can occur from adrenal cortisol stress hormone levels being too high at bedtime — even if they are too low during the day. To help manage occassional stress, I recommend the product Sleep Tonight. You will see the effect within the first few nights. In this situation, adding a 1 ounce protein snack at bedtime, such as a handful of nuts, can help prevent waking too early in the morning. Many people find that the combination of the Revitalizing Sleep Formula and Sleep Tonight herbal mixes offer powerful sleep support.
These easy-to-form habits and natural sleep aids can be very helpful to maintaining normal, healthy sleep patterns. Here's to a good night's rest — you deserve it!
Love & blessings,
Used with permission from Dr Jacob Teitelbaum's free newsletters-available at www.Vitality101.com
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