Deprivation Nation: How Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Diabetes
How to Sleep Better
By Holly Pevzner
Need help getting to -- and staying in -- dreamland? We've got 8 easy ways to transform your sleep habits.1. Redecorate
"Push the head of your bed flush to the wall," says Carol Ash, DO, medical director of the Sleep for Life Program in Hillsborough, New Jersey. "This increases your unconscious sense of security, which promotes restful sleep."2. Get Sweaty
"Exercising in the morning helps you drift off faster and improves sleep quality," says Sam Fleishman, MD, medical director of the Sleep Center at Cape Fear Valley Health System in Fayetteville, North Carolina. "If you can't do an a.m. workout, get it in at least two to three hours before bed." The reason? Exercise raises body temperature; several hours later it dips back. Your body needs to cool down to go to sleep.
Eat a snack that's caffeine- and alcohol-free, not too spicy, and easy to digest, like apple slices with peanut butter. Noshing about two hours before turning in staves off middle-of-the-night hunger pangs but won't overstimulate your digestive system, which could keep you up.4. Shut Down
Thirty minutes before bed, say no to the TV and computer. Their pulsing lights signal the brain to stay awake.5. Enter Darkness
Pull the blackout curtains tight! Even a minimal amount of light can decrease sleep quality and alter your normal sleep rhythm.6. Cuddle Up
Got a partner who doesn't snore? Ask to be spooned. "It's a very comforting position to be in to help you relax," Dr. Ash says.7. Do Something Different
"If you've been tossing and turning for 20 minutes, get out of bed," Dr. Ash says. You don't want to start associating bed with frustration. "I encourage patients to have a sleep kit with items they can use in the middle of the night to help them relax, like knitting or catalogs to thumb through."8. Wake to Music
While it's best to awaken naturally, if you can't, find a way to start the day that's not too jarring. "Try swapping your buzzer-sounding alarm clock for one that plays music instead. If it doesn't do the trick, increase the volume or try a clock that beeps," says Shelby Harris, an assistant professor of neurology and psychology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx.
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