Thursday, June 22, 2017

GET SOME SLEEP

(Health) A Gallup poll found that 42 percent of Americans average fewer than seven hours per night of sleep. Besides making us bleary and weary, too little sack time raises our risk of depression, weight gain, colds and the flu, not to mention high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. "The good news is that poor sleep mostly comes from bad habits and lack of a bedtime routine, which means it can be easy to correct," says neurologist Charles Bae, MD, a sleep medicine doctor at the Sleep Disorders Center at Cleveland Clinic. Get on the train to sleepy-town with these smart moves:

Get romantic
Not only can physical and emotional intimacy help quell feelings of anxiety and depression that could otherwise keep you up, but having good sec triggers the release of snooze friendly hormones: Prolactin promotes a relaxation and drowsiness, and oxytocin lowers output of the stress hormone cortisol. As a bonus, slumber also enhances sex, per a 2015 study: After getting just one extra hour of sleep for two weeks, women in the study had higher libido and a 14 percent greater chance of having sex the next day.

Wear socks
If cold feet keep you up at night, don a pair of warm, soft socks like wool, cashmere or fleece. According to the National Sleep Foundation, heating cold feet causes dilation of the blood vessels, which may signal to the brain that it's bedtime. The more dilation you have in your hands and feet, the faster you can drift off.

Grab a book
Good old-fashioned reading helps you relax, in part because getting engrossed in a story frees your mind from the clutches of day to day stresses. But, sorry, your Kindle doesn't count. In a study in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, people who read a physical book fell asleep 10 minutes earlier than those who got their literature fix from a digital download. So whether you choose a somber biography or rollicking pulp fiction, make sure it's a page turner, literally.

Play a game
If your brain is still fired up before bed distract it with a task: Think of as many sleep related words like "cozy," "resting" and "relaxed" as you can. In a study in Journal of Applied Social Psychology people who were shown restful words napped 62 percent longer than those who didn't. If you're more of a math person counting backward from 300 by threes.

Power down
It's pretty much impossible to slip into slumber on command. "Sleep is not an on-off switch," says sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD, author of The Power of When. "It's more like slowly taking your foot off the gas and putting on the brake there's a process that has to occur." Begin to gradually ease into bedtime one hour before: Spend 20 minutes preparing for the next day prepping breakfast, laying out clothes. Take the next 20 minutes to wash up and change into your pajamas, then use the last 20 minutes for some type of soothing activity that gets you drowsy.

Go to the dark side
Reinforce your daily sleep pattern by using darkness and light, advises Lawrence Epstein, MD, author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep. Start dimming the lights around dinnertime to mimic the sunset outside, which will promote the body's production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Then go to bed in total darkness. In the morning, expose yourself to bright light as soon as possible to shut down melatonin production and rev your body for daytime.

Press play
Cue up some tranquilizing tunes whatever that means for you, from jazz to classical, new age to the latest from Adele. Soft, calming music has been shown to both help you fall asleep and improve the quality of your rest, likely by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. In a 2013 review of previously published studies, music improved sleep quality among people with chronic sleep disorders, and the benefits increased over time. Choose a soothing music app that matches your taste.

Be suggestible
In a study in the journal Sleep women who listened to sleep promoting audiotape containing hypnotic suggestions cut the time they lay awake by two-thirds and spent about 80 percent more time in deep sleep, compared with women who didn't get hypnotic suggestions. To sample hypnotherapy at home try the app Sleep Deeply which was designed by hypnotherapists.

Sweat sooner
Studies show that people sleep better and feel more alert during the day if they work out regularly but timing matters. If you try to hop into bed still sticky from a long or super intense workout, you'll probably be too jacked up to sleep thanks to the exercise triggered release of dopamine, the feel good neurotransmitter that also perks you up. Try to end sweat sessions no later than three hours before bedtime, recommends Ana Krieger, MD, medical director of the Weill Cornell Center for Sleep Medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital. If you must work out late, consider gentler exercise, like yoga or Pilates.

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