It’s a problem that 2 out of every 3 women face: not being able to sleep soundly. Whether the issue lies in your sleep quality or quantity, the consequences can affect nearly every aspect of your waking life. Insomniacs often experience weight gain, detrimental effects to their long-term memory, and increased blood pressure – the #1 cause of aging. Stop tossing and turning, and take steps to make sleep a priority in your life.
Next time you’re lying awake at night, follow this road map to better sleep. Dr. Oz’s Back to Sleep Plan breaks down a sleep strategy into 6 basic steps. Start enacting “S-L-E-E-P” today for a better quality of life.
It’s the worst beverage to drink before you go to sleep. Alcohol may make you feel tired, but once it has metabolized in your body, it will wake you up. Stop drinking at least 2 hours before bed to avoid disrupting the natural rhythm necessary for good sleep.
Exposure to light or darkness is a key factor in how well you sleep. An area in your brain called the hypothalamus reacts to light by signaling other parts of your brain that control hormones, body temperature, and other functions that play a role in making you feel sleepy or wide awake.
Additionally, your pineal gland, a gland located in the middle of your brain, senses exposure to light. It is responsible for melatonin, nicknamed “the Dracula of hormones” because it only comes out in the dark. As levels of melatonin in your blood rise, you begin to feel less alert. Melatonin normally peaks at night; but, if light stimulates the pineal gland, melatonin release is inhibited, which can disrupt your sleep.
In addition to turning off all indoor lights, you should shut off your electronics. Like a bat, turn your bedroom into a dark and quiet cave. Use your bed for sex and sleep only.
Ideal sleeping temperature is 65 degrees F. It may seem severe, but you can always put on an extra blanket if you are cold; while it’s more difficult to cool down if you are hot.
There is no benefit to using the snooze alarm. As you sleep, you go through different sleep phases until you reach the restorative kind of sleep called REM (rapid eye movement sleep). It takes about 60 minutes to reach that critical deep sleep. A typical snooze is less than 10 minutes, barely enough time to get back into light sleep. This means that snoozing provides no restorative benefit. You will feel more awake if you set a wake time and stick to it.
You can’t prevent yourself from waking in the middle of the night, but if you practice relaxing, you can help yourself go back to sleep. Meditation, visualizing happy images, and counting backwards are all methods you can use to coax your body into relaxing. By slowing down your body and mind, you are more able to slip into sleep.
For more help falling asleep, take Dr. Oz’s Ultimate Sleep Challenge.
To quiz yourself on how to get some quality shut-eye, click here.