Not sleeping well can not only make you tired. It can lead to all sorts of problems, from weight gain to high blood pressure.
I've suffered from sleep insomnia myself. For an article I wrote, I even overnighted in the sleep lab at Canyon Ranch Spa.
Like many of us, I don't have restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea or another medical condition that hampers sleep.
Here are six tried and true tips I've found work well. Sleep tight!
- Sleep like a Cavewoman or Caveman. Studies show that keeping your bedroom on the chilly side – try 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit (18 -20 degrees Celsius)– can improve your sleep. Researchers speculate that even in the 21st century we like to sleep in cave-like conditions.
- Set a Standard Bedtime. Our bodies are big fans of routine and are powerfully influenced by circadian rhythms. If you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (yes, that means weekends too), it will help with insomnia.
- Make your Bedroom a Temple of Sleep. Ban texting, TV and other extracurricular experiences from your bedroom. Sex and sleep are the only things you do there, with this exception: practicing simple yoga asanas like child's pose or legs-up-the-wall can prepare your body for sleep. Try them to relax just before bedtime.
- Buy a Rain Machine. If your sleep is broken by noises, whether it's traffic noise or the party next door, use a white-noise machine to create a steady sound that soothes.
- Just Say No to Alcohol, Nicotene and Caffeine. All of these substances can disturb your sleep. The closer to bedtime you consume them, the bigger the risk of insomnia.
- Count Breaths, Not Sheep. Whatever type of sleep insomnia you experience — whether you have a hard time falling asleep at bedtime or you wake up in the middle of the night and can't nod off again — this method can help. Count each breath as you exhale, up to ten, then start again at one. (You can do this mindlessly, whereas counting breaths to ever-larger numbers tends to engage your brain and ward off sleep.)
Healthy living tips for the 50+ brought to you by Crest & Oral-B ProHealth For Life.