Getting Enough Sleep

The time you’re asleep is actually one of the most important parts of your day. Not getting enough sleep could lead to diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, even weight gain. In June, a Chinese soccer fan died after staying up eleven straight nights to watch matches overseas.

As many as 40 percent of Americans are not sleeping enough at night. That may be why in 2005, 42 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were filled.

If you’re not well-rested, it affects your memory, your ability to focus, your productivity, your creativity and your mood. It is estimated that lack of sleep costs Americans $50 billion per year in lost productivity. Unfortunately, the things people do to help themselves sleep don’t always work. Here are some tips that might actually help:

  • Pay attention to what you eat and drink, particularly after 2 p.m. Caffeine is the obvious no-no, but alcohol can also disrupt sleep. Conversely, look for foods high in the amino acid tryptophan.
  • Exercise regularly. Your morning workout will give you energy during the day and help you sleep at night.
  • Yoga or other relaxation techniques help calm you down, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
  • Lower your body temperature. That means no hot baths late at night. Your body needs to cool down to fall asleep.
  • Turn down the lights before you turn in. Mimic nightfall, with the gradual lessening of natural light, which is what our bodies expect at night.
  • Stick to a schedule, going to bed around the same time every night and getting up around the same time every morning. Avoid the temptation to stay op late Friday and Saturday night and sleep in the next morning, which can throw off your schedule all week.
  • Unplug yourself an hour before bed time. Gadgets can rev you up, so turn them off and put them away.
  • Reserve the bed for two things, sleep being one of them.

If you have persistent sleep troubles, it may be a symptom of a physical or psychological condition that requires treatment. If these tips don’t help, and you’re still not getting enough sleep, it’s important to call your doctor.

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