By Dr. Kevin M. DuPrey, D.O.
Feeling good starts with a good night’s sleep.
- Establish a Routine
The circadian rhythm — your biological clock –is deeply ingrained in your neurophysiology. Two hours before your regular bedtime, your brain releases increasing levels of melatonin, a sleep hormone. If you don’t have a regular bedtime, or stay up late watching Netflix, you might miss out on your body’s natural way of tucking you in. Pick a designated bedtime and stick with it.
- Move More
Studies show exercise can make it easier to fall and stay asleep. Even a 20-minute walk helps.
- Skip the Nightcap, Afternoon Latte, and Cigarettes
Alcohol can make it easier to fall asleep but reduces deep sleep. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can interfere with sleep. Caffeine stays in your system up to 14 hours, nicotine for a week.
- Snack Smarter
I’m pretty certain peanut butter before bed gives me nightmares. I haven’t seen any scientific studies to prove my theory but I know protein and fat take longer to digest than carbohydrates. Need a bedtime snack? Think jelly sandwich.
- Be a Vampire
Bright light can inhibit the release of melatonin. Turn off your TV, cell phone and computer…unless you’re reading GRAND. Or, adjust their brightness. If you get up during the night, avoid turning on a light by getting a night light.
- Keep it Down
Use earplugs. The silicone kind may work best.
- Say “Adios!” to Your Pets
Cats are nocturnal. Dogs can be fidgety. If you feel bad kicking your furry friend out of bed, consider getting a pet bed. Still scratching at the door? See tip #6.
- Bore Yourself
Thoughts keep many people awake. While awake, your brain waves resemble a fine-toothed comb on an EEG. As you fall asleep, your brain waves slow to a more pancake-like appearance. To transition from comb to pancake, imagine yourself relaxing, like floating or lying on a beach. Picture the number “1” floating on another raft or in the clouds. Focus solely on the number for 20 seconds, then move to “2,” then “3,” and so on. If you start thinking again (which will probably happen), start back at “1.” I never make it past eight.
Dr. Kevin DuPrey specializes in sports medicine and enjoys working with patients of all ages and abilities. His holistic approach is to look at the whole picture and help prevent future injuries. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on Crozer-Keystone Health System’s blog, Healthbeat