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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sleep well!


Folks, since we were discussing the importance of taking care of yourself, especially during stressful times, I thought I'd share these tips from Dr. Weil. Google him: he's a very interesting East-meets-West doctor. Sleep is crucial for good health, and getting sufficient rest is a habit you build over time.
  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine. Take a warm bath, go for a relaxing stroll, or practice meditation/relaxation exercises as part of your regular nighttime routine.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time each morning. This includes weekends.
  • Get plenty of exercise during the day. Studies have shown people who are physically active sleep better than those who are sedentary. The more energy you expend during the day (preferable earlier in the day) the sleepier you will feel at bedtime.
  • Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol, particularly in the evening.
  • Avoid large meals late in the evening.
  • Learn and use a relaxation technique regularly. Breathing exercises, meditation and yoga are good examples.
  • Use "white noise" devices to block out surrounding environmental noise.
  • Don't obsess about not sleeping. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that individuals who worry about falling asleep have greater trouble dropping off. It may help to remind yourself that while sleeplessness is troublesome, it isn't life-threatening.
  • Short naps are good. Try to get into the habit of napping: ten to twenty minutes in the afternoon, preferably lying down in a darkened room.
  • Spend some time outdoors as often as you can to get exposure to bright, natural light. If you are concerned about harmful effects of solar radiation, do it before ten in the morning or after three in the afternoon or use sunscreen.
  • Try to give yourself some time (up to an hour) in dim light before you go to sleep at night. Turn off your TV, computer, iPad, and smart phone: detach from the outer world. Lower the lighting in your house and bedroom and if other members of the household object, wear sunglasses.
  • The two best natural sleep aid treatments are valerian and melatonin. Valerian is a sedative herb, used for centuries. You can find standardized extracts in health food stores and pharmacies. Take one to two capsules a half hour before bedtime. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the wake/sleep cycle and other daily biorhythms. Try sublingual tablets (to be placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve); take 2.5 mg at bedtime as an occasional dose, making sure that your bedroom is completely dark. A much lower dose, 0.25 to 0.3 mg, is more effective for regular use.

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