(BPT) - We all know that sleep is critical to mental and physical well-being - it's nature's way of helping us revitalize ourselves and recover from the wear and tear of the day. However, getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night isn't easy. Work stress, family obligations or just plain surfing the web are a few things that interfere with your ability to catch the right amount of Zzzz's.
Here are seven simple tips to help you wind down, relax and get a longer, more restful night's sleep.
Tip 1 - Evaluate your room
The best sleeping environment is cool, quiet, dark and free of interruptions. Check your room for noise or other distractions such as lights from cable boxes and vibrations or pings announcing incoming emails and texts. Blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs and 'white noise' makers such as humidifiers and fans help mask unwanted noise. Also consider your bedding. Pillows should support your neck in a neutral position and mattresses should be replaced every nine to ten years.
Tip 2 - Wind down
A relaxing routine and dim lighting help transition your body from the excitement of the day to bedtime. To help wind down, spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity, such as reading or listening to music. Ideally, avoid electronics before bed. Activities like online shopping or surfing the web can inadvertently cause you to stay up later than planned and for some, the blue light emanating from computer and TV screens activates the brain.
Tip 3 - Avoid alcohol in the evening
Although alcohol might help you feel relaxed initially, after the effects wear off, alcohol actually causes frequent awakenings. It interferes with deep REM sleep and may cause shallow sleep, multiple awakenings, REM rebound (associated with nightmares or vivid dreams) or sweating.
Tip 4 - Try a sleep aid
Melatonin is a hormone naturally-produced by the pineal gland in your brain. It's produced every evening by your body when the sun goes down and darkness occurs. As melatonin levels rise in your blood, you begin to feel less alert and sleep becomes more inviting. Taking a typical dose (1 to 3 mg) may elevate your blood melatonin levels to 1 to 20 times normal, so it's important to only take melatonin right before you're about to go to bed. Consider taking Emergen-Zzzz (TM), which contains melatonin to help you fall asleep naturally, plus vitamin C and key antioxidants† to fortify your body while you sleep.*
Tip 5 - Avoid bright lights and electronics
Light plays a critical role in your body's ability to create melatonin. While the pineal gland is prepared to create melatonin each night around 9pm, it will only do so when you're in a dimly lit environment. Help prepare your body for bed by avoiding bright lights before bedtime.
Tip 6 - Stop forcing it
If you find yourself lying awake and counting sheep into six figures, it's time for another trick. After 15 to 30 minutes of lying in bed awake, get out of bed. Avoid turning on bright lights and find something calming to do, such as listening to music or reading. If you don't want to disturb your partner, try progressive relaxation by mentally relaxing each body part. For example, start at your head and consciously relax your jaw, forehead, and neck, then move to your shoulders and down through the body to your toes.
Tip 7 - Write down your worries
Keep a 'worry journal' on your nightstand. It's common to wake up in the middle of the night worrying - and sometimes dwelling - on your list of to-do's in the morning. If you find yourself lying awake at night daunted by the day's tasks ahead, quickly jot them all down on a piece of paper so you can get back to sleep worry-free.
†Antioxidants include Zinc and Manganese
*Emergen- Zzzz® is a dietary supplement for occasional sleeplessness
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.