Secrets of Good Sleepers
By Stacey Feintuch from HealthyWomen’s Sleep area
When you finally lay your head on the pillow, you likely want to go to sleep—and stay that way. But the same thing happens every time. You wake up at 2 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep. You’re worrying about the laundry that needs to be folded and you gotta make a bathroom run, too. You finally shut your eyes at 4 a.m., only to have your alarm sound two hours later. You’re stuck with another day of being tired, unenergized and bleary eyed.
Don’t suffer through another sleepless night. Follow the secrets of how good sleepers get a sound night of slumber. You’ll be on your way to being one yourself in no time.
They watch their caffeine consumption.
It shouldn’t be surprising that sipping on that cup of java while you eat dessert may interrupt your sleep. Caffeine can stay in your system for hours, so that midafternoon coffee run can haunt you. Also aim to avoid caffeine sources like cola, root beer, tea and chocolate. And don’t forget those coffee-flavored treats like cappuccino-flavored ice cream, which can also give you a dose of caffeine. If you find that you’re sensitive to caffeine, stay away from it in the afternoon as well as the evening. Read about the most common sleep disorders.
They don’t OD on water-filled fruits and veggies.
Fruits and veggies do the body good. But the water found in celery, watermelon, cucumbers and other produce may cause you to wake in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Why? Celery, for example, is a natural diuretic, which means it pushes water through your system. And that means you’ll need to use the bathroom a bit more than usual.
They adore their mattress.
A mattress is a long-term commitment. If possible, see if a friend or a hotel has the mattress you’re thinking about and test it out for a night. Some stores may let you sleep on it overnight. Or some mattress companies will give you a full refund if you don’t like your mattress after 30 days. What if you like a soft mattress and your partner likes a firmer one? Get two single-sized mattresses that work for each of you. Push them together and use king-sized sheets.
They avoid heavy meals before hitting the hay.
Put down the burger, fries, pizza and other fatty foods before bed. Fattier meals can disrupt your sleep cycle. Why? Eating a heavy meal promotes digestion, which makes it more likely you’ll have to use the restroom overnight. Plus, foods high in fat can give you stomach discomfort or heartburn. And that can make it tough to fall asleep. In fact, a recent study found that eating too much saturated fat is linked to sleep that’s lighter and more wakeful.
They don’t fight over the blankets.
How many times have you awoken in the middle of the night and been confused where the comforter has gone? The tugging and pulling of blankets and sheets truly can interrupt your sheets. Consider getting blankets for each of you. Then put a comforter or duvet over the top.
They avoid heartburn triggers.
Grapefruits and oranges may be nutritious but these citrus fruits are also acidic. That means they can trigger heartburn, which can keep you awake at night. Other foods and beverages that can cause heartburn include lemons and other tangy citrus fruits (as well as citrus juices); alcohol (especially red wine); carbonated beverages; spicy foods such as garlic, onions, and peppers; caffeinated food and drinks such as coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate; tomatoes; and peppermint.
They ignore the studies.
Studies have found that the right amount of sleep is what leaves you energized the next day. So, you may not need a solid eight hours of slumber to be ready to attack the day. See what works for you instead of focusing on the clock.
They watch their meds.
Unbeknownst to you, some pain relievers contain caffeine. Extra-strength Excedrin, for example, contains 65 milligrams of caffeine. Take two pills and you’re getting as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Check labels to see if caffeine is listed as an active ingredient. You also want to watch out for oral decongestants. While they can help you breathe better, they can raise your heart rate. And that makes it hard to sleep. Try a saline wash or spray at nighttime instead.
They avoid tyramine.
What’s that, you’re wondering. It’s an amino acid that causes the brain to release norepinephrine, a stimulant that increases your brain activity and delays your sleep. Foods boasting tyramine include tomatoes, soy sauce, red wine, eggplant and aged cheeses like brie.
They watch their bath time.
A hot bath may feel soothing before bed. But it raises your skin temperature and eventually lowers your core body temperature. If you want to bathe, do so 30 minutes or so before bedtime.
They write out their worries.
As soon as your head hits the pillow, your mind starts racing. You think about your long to-do list, the kids, chores, work and more. To help prevent your thoughts from doing circles at bedtime, write down your thoughts before attempting to fall asleep. It will help calm your mind.
The don’t sleep with their pets.
You may have to kick your pooch out of bed. Co-sleeping with a furry friend can distract your shuteye. And if you’re allergic to pets, your runny nose and coughing may be disrupting your sleep.
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