Monday, July 2, 2012

Sleep to Promote Longevity - Part 2

If you're anything like me, I get the munchies around 8pm nightly, and if plan to go to bed to sleep around 10pm or 11pm, I have to watch what I eat or drink that late at night. Below are some suggestions that have worked for me.

• If you drink a carbonated drink or coffee or tea, make it a decaffeinated one.

• Stay away from alcoholic drinks. Liquor might help you relax at first, and even help you fall asleep, but it interferes with your REM (rapid-eye-movement) cycle, so you won't stay asleep, and any sleep you do get will be a restless one. According to the U.S. Academia of Sleep Medication, it can take anywhere from 8 to 14 hours for the effects of caffeinated drinks to fully wear off, based on how accustomed you are to it.

• Try milk, really! But don't add chocolate syrup to it. The chocolate has caffeine and it will counteract what you're trying to accomplish.

• As we age we produce less and less melatonin, so ask your doctor about the possibility of adding a small dose of melatonin to your nightly routine and see if that helps. Remember, don't take any herbs without checking with your doctor first! If you don't want to take melatonin, then consider munching on selected treats, such as apples, pistachios, peanut butter, and prepared cereals products. They include vitamin B6-a key element for making melatonin

• Keep your evening meal small. A big meal in the evening will make your stomach work harder to digest the food, possibly causing you gas and heartburn. It's very difficult to fall asleep when you are agonizing with heartburn and a swollen belly. You can make your breakfast or lunch the big meal of the day and eat a light meal for dinner. Sometimes I have a large bowl of cereal with a banana and of course, milk, as my evening meal. Another option that has worked for me is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a turkey and cheese sandwich with again, that glass of milk. Turkey contains L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid with a documented sleep inducing effect. Ever wonder why you get so sleepy after eating a big turkey dinner?

• Eat carbs, yes I said, "eat carbs!" Carbs have a bad reputation for ruining a diet, but the truth is that we all need carbs, and they are actually key to inducing sleep. So go ahead and eat that whole grain cereal, fruit, fresh vegetables and bread -- yes, bread (remember the turkey sandwich?).

• Limit your fluids late in the evening. The more and the later you drink, the more times you will need to get up during the night to use the bathroom. If you know you are going to bed at 10pm, try to stop drinking large amounts of liquids after 7pm or 8pm in the evening. If you feel you need something in order to keep your mouth dry, try sucking on ice chips, or sugar-free candy to keep your mouth moist.

Many of us are under the impression that as we age we need less sleep. That's not true. Seniors need their rest just as much as anyone else, but many times certain medications, snoring, Alzheimer's (AD), chronic pain such as arthritis, not getting enough exercise during the day, and the consumption of too much caffeine, especially late in the evening, prevents them from getting a good night sleep.

How much sleep is enough sleep? Although everyone is different, as a rule the recommended amount is 9 hours. I know, how many of us can devote 9 hours out of our day to sleep? Very few of us, but we should at least attempt to get as many hours as possible. If you had heart disease and your doctor prescribed medication to keep your heart healthy, wouldn't you make sure you took your medicine on a regular basis? Sleep is not heart medicine, but enough sleep can help maintain a healthy heart, so it's just as important.

Finally, make your bedroom the room where you go to sleep. That means no TV, no computer, no distractions. And keep it as dark as possible. If you need a night light, and if the bathroom is close by, try using a night light in the bathroom, not the bedroom, unless you absolutely need a light in the bedroom.

Here's to a good night sleep! Time for me to go to bed (yawn). Where is my milk?

Author: Amy Young at

Comfort Hands looks after your loved ones providing you peace of mind.

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