If you find yourself dragging at work after lunch, it may not be your weekend activities that are causing your fatigue. It might be the quality of sleep you’re getting all week long.
And you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly a third of Americans are sleep deprived. So to make sure you get the sheet time you need, we spoke to sleep expert, Dr. Robert Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute.
Dr X, as he’s called, uses the “science of sleep” to help us get a better night’s sleep and has even helped develop the patented bedMATCH technology which scientifically selects the best bed for your body type and sleep preferences.
So put down the warm milk, grab a glass of cherry juice (it’s more effective), and follow Dr. Oexman’s 9 top tips for getting a better night’s sleep:
- Technology: Make a commitment to turn off all electronics 30 minutes before bed and keep technology out of the bedroom. Blue light emitted from computers, smart phones, and tablets can inhibit the production of melatonin, hurting natural sleep processes. Your room should be reserved for sleep, sex and nothing else. There’s no excuse – if your cell phone is your alarm clock then buy a $5 alarm clock and solve the problem.
- Light: Your bedroom should be completely dark. If you have an LED alarm clock in the bedroom, cover it with a sheet or towel before going to bed. (If you must use a night-light, pick a ‘low blue’ one.)
- Sound: Make sure the bedroom is completely quiet. If you cannot eliminate outside sound invest in a “white noise” machine. Don’t use the other settings – rainforests and waterfalls may put you to sleep, but alterations in the recorded track will eventually wake you back up. You can also simply download white noise apps for your iPhone.
- Cherry Juice: Cherries affect your melatonin levels, the body’s sleep hormone. Dr. Oexman recommends a glass of tart cherry juice before hitting the sack. (Research shows that juice helps some insomniacs sleep deeper.)
- Thermostat: Make sure the bedroom is cool. Your room temperature should be around 67 degrees. A cool room allows your core body temperature to drop, which is necessary to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Separate Blankets: One of the biggest disrupters of sleep is the pulling and tugging of sheets and blankets. If you share a bed, each person should have their own sheet and blanket.
- Size Matters… in a Mattress: When it comes to size, it really does matter in a mattress. Using actigraphy (measuring movement), the Sleep to Live Institute was able to show that the bigger the mattress the less partners disturbed each other. So, a queen size bed is better than a full, and a king size is better than a queen.
- Bedtime Routine: Develop and stick to a bedtime routine. This means actually taking 20-30 minutes before bed to do something relaxing, such as taking a hot bath or reading a book in low-light, which will help you to fall asleep faster when it’s time to turn out the lights. Commit to sleep and make it a priority. That means whatever your bedtime is, your wake-up time needs to be at least eight hours later.
- Naps: Avoid takings naps after 3:00 pm. If you must nap, make sure they are less than 45 minutes long or else it could affect your ability to sleep at night.
Photo: Edward via Wikimedia.org under Creative Commons license.
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