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Sleep is an Important Component of Overall Health

We all may have trouble sleeping on occasion, but healthy sleep is vital to our health, so finding solutions for sleeplessness is very important. Here are some tips that may help.

Try to sleep only when you actually feel tired, instead of spending too much time awake in bed. Train your body to sleep well is to go to bed and get up at about the same time every day, even on weekends and days off. This regular rhythm will make you feel better and will give your body something to work from.

If you haven’t been able to get to sleep after about 20 minutes or more, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy, and then return to bed and try again. Avoid doing anything that is too stimulating or interesting, as this will wake you up even more.

Avoid consuming any caffeine for eight hours or nicotine (cigarettes) for at least four to six hours before going to bed. These substances act as stimulants and interfere with the ability to fall asleep.

It is best to avoid alcohol for at least four to six hours before going to bed. Many people believe that drinking alcohol is relaxing and helps them to get to sleep, but it actually interferes with the quality of sleep.

Try not to use your bed for anything other than sleeping and sex, so that your body associates your bed with sleep. If you use your bed as a place to watch TV, read, eat, work or pay bills, your body will not learn this connection.

Avoid taking naps during the day so you are tired at bedtime. If you absolutely need a nap, make sure it is only 20 to 30 minutes. A short nap can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.

Get adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for individuals that may not go outside frequently. Exposure to sunlight during the day, as well as darkness at night, helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Many people that struggle with sleep watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock during the night can increase wakefulness and cause worry and reinforces negative thoughts.

Taking a hot bath one to two hours before bedtime can be helpful because it will relax you and raise your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again. Research shows that sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature.

Regular exercise is a good idea to help with good sleep and good health, but avoid strenuous exercise within four hours of bedtime. A morning walk is a great way to start the day feeling energized.

A healthy, balanced diet will promote good health. Some people find it distracting if they feel hungry at bedtime, so it may be helpful to have a light snack, but a heavy meal just before bed can interrupt sleep.

It is very important that the bed and bedroom are comfortable, quiet and dimly lit or dark for sleeping. A cooler room with enough blankets to stay warm is best. Make sure you have curtains or an eye mask to block out early morning light and earplugs if there is noise outside your room. Often a “white noise” or relaxing sound machine or a fan can make the bedroom more relaxing.

If you have tried all these tips and can still not get a good night’s sleep, a natural non-habit-forming sleep aid may be the solution. Key ingredients to look for are Melatonin which has been shown in several studies to be very effective in helping induce and maintain sleep in both children and adults with insomnia; 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) which is converted in the brain to serotonin an initiator of sleep and L-theanine, a unique amino acid found almost exclusively in tea plants (Camellia sinensis).  

When these supplements are taken together, they exert synergistic effects to relax, calm, and promote restful sleep without sedating. They will also not cause daytime drowsiness, or the other problematic side effects of the prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills.  Consult a physician if you are taking antidepressants.

Ken Manzo is a Milford PA - Based Pharmacist and the formulator of Somnaid™ a health sleep supplement containing an optimal proportion of Melatonin, L-Theanine, and 5-Hydroxytryptophan to calm, relax, and promote a deep restful sleep. Visit Somnaid.com for more information.

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