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March 11, 2008

Get to Sleep - Here's How

We've written for years about the correlation between diabetes, obesity and the lack of sleep. While some prioritize other activities above a good night's rest, others simply have difficulty getting the 7-8 solid sleep that doctors recommend. Here's a list of bedtime ideas from a variety of sources:

Sleep only when sleepy

Don't oversleep or nap during the day.

Have a light snack before bed

Laugh a little. What a comedy, joke with a friend and drop your stress hormones.

Put your work in perspective and get a hobby. A joint study of 314 workers conducted by the University of South Australia and the University of Rotterdam found that workers with higher levels of active leisurely activities, such as exercise, hobbies, and social activity, were able not only to bounce back from workplace stress better than their always-on-the-job coworkers but also sleep significantly better than others.

Use sunlight to set your biological clock

Connect. Studies at UCLA reveal that women's friendships and relationships with their children can block stress hormones.

Stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at least 4-6 hours before bed. (Nicotine is a stimulant)

Stretch and relaxation - Some people find that a gentle stretching routine for several minutes just before getting into bed helps induce sleep. Others practice relaxation techniques. Libraries or bookstores have books on developing stretching or relaxation routines.

Put yourself on a regular schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.

Forgive others and let go of the past.

Be realistic. Rather than worrying about what you want to do match your expectations with what can actually be done.

Create a pre-sleep ritual. Ideally, nights should be as relaxing as possible, but try telling this to a working mom who needs to get a million things done.

Wind down for the night at least 30 to 60 minutes before bed.

Exercise early in the day.

Avoid drinking large amounts of fluid late in the day. A full bladder doesn't make for a good nights sleep.

Cut down on alcohol. Alcohol might help you get to sleep, but it results in shallow and disturbed sleep, abnormal dream periods, and frequent early morning awakening.

Check your iron level. Iron deficient women tend to have more problems sleeping, so if your blood is iron poor, a supplement might help your health and your ability to sleep.

Change your lifestyle expectations. According to a poll by the American Psychological Association, 4 of the top 10 stressors we experience are related to money. Do with less, be healthy and be happy.

A good sleep environment can help:

  • Make sure your bed is large enough, and comfortable. If you are disturbed by a restless bedmate, switch to a queen- or king-size bed. Test different types of mattresses. Try therapeutic shaped foam pillows that cradle your neck or extra pillows that help you sleep on your side. Get comfortable cotton sheets.

  • Make your bedroom primarily a place for sleeping. It is not a good idea to use your bed for paying bills, doing work, etc. Help your body recognize that this is a place for rest or intimacy.

  • Keep your bedroom peaceful and comfortable. Make sure your room is well ventilated and the temperature consistent. And try to keep it quiet. You could use a fan or a "white noise" machine to help block outside noises.

  • Hide your clock. A big, illuminated digital clock may cause you to focus on the time and make you feel stressed and anxious. Place your clock so you can't see the time when you are in bed.


Posted by Diabetologica at March 11, 2008 9:20 PM