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South Texas Living


Healthy Living: Dreaming of uninterrupted sleep?




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August 8, 2012 | 1,761 views | Post a comment

You’re not alone. Nearly half of all Americans are plagued with occasional insomnia, and about 15 percent have chronic sleepless nights. Try these tips to improve the quality of sleep, and the quality of your life.

If you’re not sleeping well at night, you may be at risk for health problems ahead. New research published in The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal, says that if you have problems sleeping, you are at risk for health problems like diabetes, heart failure, anxiety, and depression.

You may not realize that if you have insomnia, you are five times more likely to have anxiety and depression, and double the risk for congestive heart failure and diabetes. Simply put, if you’re having sleep problems at night, those sleepless nights can result in numerous health problems. Difficulty sleeping can lead to daytime problems too, like mood disorders, irritability, and a constant feeling of exhaustion. As people grow older, many experience age-related changes such as decreased quality of sleep. Some people find they have difficulty sleeping, as each day is crowded with anxiety and stress.

Did you know sleep is crucial to brain health and memory? New research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has determined that sound quality sleep can improve cognition (which includes decision-making skills, focus, concentration, and memory).

Did you know that poor quality sleep can also affect your immune system? During sleep, the body produces important proteins called cytokines. These proteins are essential to the effectiveness of the immune system in fighting off infection and other adverse effects on the body. It’s also true that people who have chronic sleep problems have a weaker defense system against pathogens that cause illness like the common cold.

You can tip the scales on the side of better sleep with these easy, no-nonsense, better sleep ideas.

Six Steps to Better Sleep

Upgrade your mattress. Your mattress may be triggering allergies that are playing havoc with your sleep. If your mattress is more than seven years old, it may be time to replace it. Bed bugs hiding deep in mattresses are common sources of asthma and allergies.

Cool down. Turn the thermostat down to the mid-60s when you go to bed. Studies have shown that a cool bedroom helps induce sleep.

Wear socks. Now that your bedroom is cooler, put on a pair of socks. The American Journal of Physiology suggests wearing socks to bed to achieve better sleep. Your feet are often colder than the rest of the body so wearing socks helps blood vessels in your feet stay dilated, resulting in better sleep.

Regulate your eating routine. Don’t eat a big meal right before bedtime, and don’t skip dinner so you go to bed hungry.

Scratch the screen time. Calm the brain before going to bed. Avoid reading, writing, and checking email on your electronic devices before bedtime, and don’t watch TV right before you close your eyes.

Exercise regularly. If you exercise regularly, at least four times a week, research has shown you may be able to add an hour or more to your usual night’s sleep.
 

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