Successful Sleep — by Jim Rollince

Successful Sleep –Stress +Exercise

There are an endless number of ways to achieve a longer and better night’s rest. It’s apparent that we lose sleep through countless tosses and turns, along with the occasional bathroom trip. There are the typical “Don’t eat before bed” and “Use a sleep aid” suggestions, and then there are also the more detailed expert responses like the mention of eating a high protein snack 30 minutes prior to sleep. Certainly one of the most absorbing I’ve heard was the alarm clock hint, which strongly suggests avoiding loud, abrupt alarm clocks. I’ve since switched over to an alarm with soothing sounds.

Doctors will also tell you to steer clear of ambient light during sleep – This causes the pupils to widen telling the brain that it’s morning. This also includes trips to the bathroom; be sure to have blinds on your bathroom window and hallway.

Before I go any further, I think it’s clear that most of these ultimately stem back one’s psychological state. It’s clear that you don’t want to get into a rhythm of waking abruptly, as this will cause the mind to fear waking up, and most certainly cause you to wake much earlier as to avoid such an interruption. Similarly, eating before bed can cause the body to find ways to burn calories during the night, pushing the mind into nightmare mode and producing uncomfortable sleep. This also ties directly into heat; keeping the room cool will provide greater return.

But it’s what the experts don’t tell you, that typically offsets everything else. As I mentioned previously, most of this is psychological, but your psychological state can also be directly affected by too much exercise, or lack there of…People who exercise regularly typically achieve a better nights rest. Naturally, human beings are programmed for both work, and play. Engaging in some form of physical activity while getting your heart rate up will put you in better position for solid, uninterrupted rest. On the other hand, exercising too much, or too close to bedtime can cause poor sleep. A sore back or raise in endorphins will most certainly keep you up at night.

It’s difficult to remember each and every tip/trick for a better night’s rest, so it’s with my strong recommendation that you exercise while avoid any extra stress from work or relationships (if possible).

Ambient light/Alarm Clocks/Food – If these rules aren’t followed properly, they lead to decreased sleep. Decreased sleep can build over time, which is the primary reason why most people become ill or lack productivity at work. In other words, it’s a domino effect. A lot of people will actually defer to sleeping aids, which can become habitually addicting. This leads the mind to think that it cannot get a good night’s rest without them, reemphasizing and reengaging the psychological stress factor. Other sleep enhancing tricks include the following:

  • Go to the bathroom before bed as to avoid waking during the middle of the night.
  • Less Electronic Equipment = Better.
  • Use an alarm clock with soothing sounds and gradually increasing light.
  • Don’t hang out in your room during the day (Bedroom is a place for sleep).
  • Be sure to eat breakfast.
  • Avoid watching dramatic television or engaging in physical activity before bed.
  • Don’t shower directly before bed.

By identifying and remember a few simple rules and exercising regularly (treadmills, ellipticals or home gyms), you’ll find yourself getting a solid night’s sleep while keeping stress at bay.

About Steve P. Sanders

A general internist writing and sharing ideas and art.

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