I’ve tried nearly every trick imaginable to get more restful sleep. For a long time, nothing worked: not a regular bedtime, herbal supplements, turning computers off before bed, or even a weekend away from work.
You’d think the human race would have sleep down to a science by now, but many of us are still sleeping poorly. Part of the problem is we have outdated information and beliefs about this all-important health need. Let’s set the facts straight. Here are 10 things you might have been told about sleep but aren’t completely true.
on’t even try to sleep hungry. Yeah, it’s dark and we shouldn’t be eating, but a rumbling tummy is worse. A simple, small midnight snack is not going to destroy your diet nearly as much as starvation the following morning. Carbs + dairy is always a good bet.
If you think there’s a possibility of Alzheimer’s for you, please make sure you make plans with regard to health, etc. before things get bad and you can’t make those decisions anymore. Things easily become a big mess in those situations.
It’s not just your mindset that can shape your eating habits. Your environment plays a role, too. And in the case of your kitchen, a pile of dirty dishes just might influence you in ways you don’t realize.
It’s the middle of the night and you know you should be sleeping, but you can’t. Something is keeping you up: Maybe a coworker tried to throw you under the bus, or your friend said something rude. Whatever it is, you can’t get it out of your head, and you need to sleep for work tomorrow. It sucks.
I’ve had my share of those nights, and they’re the worst. It doesn’t even have to be something serious that’s keeping you awake, either. Sometimes it’s small; a snide comment or the assertion that you’re not doing your job well. Other times it can be serious, like hearing through the grapevine that someone important said something off-color about you. Combine this with even a little stress and anxiety, and your brain is off to the races at the worst of times—the middle of the night. I’m willing to bet you’ve been there too.
They say that the night before a race doesn’t matter – it’s the sleep the night before that which matters.
For those devices that can’t run f.lux without a jail break, consider purchasing orange safety goggles. They’re extremely cheap and work wonders and are not that uncomfortable. I’ve fallen asleep with them on. They’ll also help block out the light of your television or your blue-colored lighting around your home. You really don’t want any blue light in your eyes past sundown.
Diphenhydramine can have a sort of stimulatory rebound effect in some people and give them restless leg syndrome. This could mean falling asleep in a drug-induced haze and waking an hour or two later unable to sit or lie still, which makes the night so much worse. If this has ever happened to you, it’s probably not worth the risk.
Your usual sleep hygiene stuff is still helpful here, including temperature. Your body temp goes down when you’re asleep, and most people sleep best under warm blankets in a cool room. Taking a hot bath or shower can be soporific because exiting the hot water produces a perceived drop in temperature. Cracking a window in autumn can keep the room cooler.
I struggle with anxiety-induced insomnia, and ultimately I often rely on something to listen to to keep my mind quiet. It’s hard to ruminate when you have input. If white noise works for you, great. But if you end up needing a dull free access lecture or something to fall asleep, just go for it. I sleep with headphones a great deal of the time because I’ve been stressed lately. I’ll listen to Netflix episodes of things I’ve heard dozens and dozens of times, so it’s not that interesting, but it’s light and just enough for my brain to listen to to keep me from thinking about anything. Whatever works. The goal is sleep, period. You can be an A+ sleeper after you graduate/finish that project/reach that deadline.
It is a common story. You haven’t slept well for three days now. The alarm is set for 7 a.m. You get into bed early, hoping that tonight you’ll fall asleep early and stay asleep. Instead, you wake up at 2 a.m., staring at the ceiling, wide awake, frustrated and worrying about how you’ll function at work the next day. It takes more than two hours to fall back asleep and, before you know it, the alarm is blasting and a new day begins.
Firing someone, even a fitness coach or personal trainer, is hard to do. You’ve invested a lot of time and energy into this person. So when you need to part ways, it actually feels like you’re breaking up with a really close friend. Nobody wants to be “the bad guy”, but if this person is no longer meeting your needs here’s how to end things (without feeling like an ass yourself).
Some trainers have a sexual harassment rider in my professional liability insurance coverage. Lots have been fired because they sexed it up with their clients, and the clients shouted their business from the roof tops. Nothing gets you over an old trainer, like a new one? 😉
I was going to skip my daily swim the other morning. I had already walked three miles with a friend and taken my dog to the park for his exercise. I was really tired, my back was sore, I had a column to write and lots to do around the house.
But I knew from past experience that I would feel much better after 40 minutes of swimming laps. So in I went. And, yes, I did feel better — not just refreshed, but more energetic, clearheaded and better prepared than I would have been otherwise to tackle the day’s essentials.
I’m often reminding myself that I (almost) never regret a workout, but I often regret skipping one. Like a friend of mine, I like starting my day by cycling. It throws off my routine and day in general; the cycling wakes me up. And if it’s not one activity, there’s another – sometimes I change things up to go for a run instead, or swim if possible. Doing the three disciplines of triathlon doesn’t mean I (or anyone else) has to race – it’s just cross training until you put on the swim cap and line up for the start 😉
“I swear my pants weren’t this tight earlier today.” We’ve all said it at one time or another. That’s because bloating is one of the most common — and obvious — stomach complaints around, says David T. Rubin, M.D., fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology and chief of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at The University of Chicago Medicine. Many of his patients even snap “bloating selfies” to show how much their waistlines fluctuate throughout the day. (We won’t blame you if you keep those off Facebook.)