While some may think bedtime rituals are unnecessary, they are actually quite important. They help you prepare your body for the act of going to sleep. Once they become routine, they provide important cues for your brain that it’s time to enter into your nightly slowdown mode. The problem most people have is deciding what types of activities should be included in their bedtime rituals. Here are a few great ideas.
Most people envision pampered debutantes when they think of sleep masks. The truth of the matter is that the people who need them most are often hard working people just like you. No one will argue the necessity or benefits of a good night’s sleep. It’s important to your overall health and well-being. However, many people around the world struggle to get the very sleep they need. A sleep mask can provide a great deal of help in that regard.
As far as most people are concerned, the sleeping cap is a historical item rather than something that’s relevant to people in need of a few hours’ worth of sleep in the modern era. In some ways, they’re correct. Most people do not need them in today’s world filled with modern conveniences such as central heating and air conditioning. That doesn’t mean, however, that they aren’t at all useful today. Many retailers still sell them today.
The History of the Sleeping Cap
While it’s not exactly known when or, specifically, where the sleeping cap (often referred to as a nightcap, sleep hat, or sleep bonnet) originated, at one time, sleeping caps were worn because fires died down and homes were incredibly cold during the late hours of night or wee hours of morning. Since the thought was a large chunk of a body’s heat escapes through the head, it made perfect sense to keep the head covered in an effort to retain body heat so you can remain warm throughout the night.
The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health report, Effects of Drugs on Sleep, states that: “Chronic use or abuse of certain drugs may lead to the development of substance-related sleep disorders. Primary sleep disorders, such as apnea, periodic movement disorders, and parasomnias, may be exacerbated by various drugs.”
According to a Harvard Report on how External Factors Influence Sleep, the impact of prescription medications on sleep varies from one type to the next. For instance, beta blockers, which are commonly used to reduce blood pressure, cause decreased slow-wave sleep and in important REM sleep, while increasing sleepiness during the daytime hours. Alpha blockers, also used to reduce blood pressure and to treat some prostate conditions, also lead to decreases in REM sleep as well as boosts to daytime sleepiness. Some antidepressants, known as SSRIs, are believed to actually promote insomnia. The long-term impact of other antidepressant drugs on sleep are, as of yet, unknown.
Most of us know that we should avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime because both can interfere with the quality of sleep. But are there foods that help you sleep? According to Dr. Michael J. Breus, Certified Sleep Specialist, the answer to that question is yes! From cherries to oatmeal to warm milk, here are six foods and beverages that can help you get more shut eye tonight.
Sleep Promoting Foods
1) Cherries – According to a study reported in the Journal of Experimental Botany, cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which is often referred to as the “sleep hormone” because it helps control your body’s internal clock needed to regulate sleep. While fresh cherries are only in season (and thus less expensive) for about two months of the year (June and July), tart cherry juice and dried cherries are excellent substitutes when purchasing fresh cherries tends to break the bank. According to Dr. Oz, montmorency tart cherries have six times the melatonin content than a normal cherry, so look for those for the most benefit.
Everyone needs a good night’s sleep each and every night. Unfortunately, for a large segment of the population that is a rare commodity. While there are some who would argue that the time spent sleeping is time you cannot enjoy some of the more entertaining aspects of life, sleep actually improves the quality of your life and may even help improve your life expectancy. If you’re having trouble sleeping, keeping a sleep diary can help you manage your sleep a little better now and in the future.
Benefits of Adequate Sleep
There are many benefits that you get from a proper amount of sleep that most people don’t really understand until after they’ve gone through a fairly significant period of sleep deprivation at least once. As you age, the side effects of a sleepless night become much more pronounced and harder to overcome. These benefits include: improved mood and temperament, a brain that’s more receptive to learning, improved immunity, better alertness, increased balance, and more energy.
It’s a busy world we live in today. Thanks to advancements in technology, we seem to be always connected. Add that to the stress of dealing with a demanding job, worrying about our children or aging parents, or concern over a health condition either for ourselves and a loved one, and there’s no surprise that some of us have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some tool that could relax our minds and let go of our stress and worries to fall into a peaceful deep sleep? Well there is, and it’s called guided imagery.
What is Guided Imagery for Sleep?
Have you ever “counted sheep” to help you to fall asleep? If so, you were practicing guided imagery without even knowing it. In a nutshell, guided imagery is a relaxation technique where one’s thoughts are purposely redirected through imagination and visualization to achieve a desired goal. While this goal is commonly to help with falling asleep, it’s also used to help adults cope with a serious health condition, such as cancer, manage stress, depression, pain, and anxiety. It’s also a helpful technique for children, particularly in helping to chase away their fears.
Benefits of Guided Imagery for Sleep
Using guided imagery for sleep disturbances can help both adults and children alike find a soothing, relaxing, and comforting way to drift off to sleep. As a directed form of visualization, guided imagery is based on the thought that the body and mind are connected. By tapping into one’s own imagination, guided imagery can relax oneself into a soothing slumber.
Sleep is a precious commodity in many households around the world. For some people, it’s falling asleep in the first place. For others, it’s managing to remain asleep that’s the problem. One of the more common causes of problem sleeping is distractions brought on by noise in the environment. That’s why many people are beginning to take matters into their own hands in order to find sounds they sleep to so that they can ignore the sounds that tend to wake them up or keep them up at night.
What Sounds Distract from Restful Sleep?
Knowing how important it is to get a good night’s sleep only seems to pile on the pressure some nights when your brain is hijacked by every random noise of stray thought that crosses paths with it. Some of the sounds that may be preventing you from getting the sleep you so desperately need include:
- Barking dogs
- Dripping water faucets
- Garbage trucks
- Street sweepers
- Noisy Neighbors
Of course there are plenty more sounds that might be making a difference in your own little corner of the world, but these noises are some of the most commonly complained about.
Every year I make a new resolution—to exercise more, lose weight, save more money, spend more time with family, or keep my house cleaner—and every year I find myself struggling to meet my goals. I’m not alone. Statistics show that by mid January half of Americans have already given up their resolutions. Clearly there are many reasons for this but I think the main reason is that we set unrealistic goals. I know I’m a messy person. It’s just in my nature. When I make my resolutions, I don’t aim for achievable goals like putting away my laundry right after I wash it. I aim for lofty goals, like organizing every closet, dusting weekly, and never letting an item of clothing sit unfolded. I have a busy life and I just can’t possibly keep this up without a complete personality overhaul. Short of mood-altering drugs, this isn’t going to happen. This year, I’m setting a simple, achievable goal for myself: take steps to get better sleep.
Ah, the Mayans: an ancient people that somehow predicted the end of the world centuries after the fall of their civilization. Never mind the thousands of other apocalyptic predictions that have been made throughout history, met with nothing more than a few hundred devout doomsday believers in a desert somewhere. It’s true, I will admit, the hype surrounding this particular apocalyptic prediction is pretty impressive. It’s all over the news. Real, non-crazy people are feeling frightened by the whole thing. Rest assured, America. We might be bringing on the apocalypse with our irresponsible use of fossil fuels, deforestation, habitat destruction, and wanton disregard for the balance of nature, but that apocalypse will probably take at least another few decades. But, for fun, let’s assume the Mayans were right and we’re all doomed (sounds super fun, right?) On the up side, you don’t have to worry about the fiscal cliff, recession, or various other manifestations of your economic discontent. If the world has to end, at least we can forget about congress. On the down side, the apocalypse is noisy and disruptive and can really sabotage a good night’s sleep. Here are some tips for getting rest when the end is nigh.