People who have trouble sleeping may be at greater risk of heart attacks and stroke. According to a new Chinese study published in the journal Neurology, people who struggled to fall asleep, woke up too early, or struggled to focus during the day because of lack of sleep, were 18% more likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular disease. The link between insomnia symptoms and these diseases was even stronger in younger adults and people who did not have high blood pressure at the start of the study, so future research should look especially at early detection and interventions aimed at these groups.
Here are some tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.
1. Schedule your sleep. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time in the morning, even on the weekends.
2. Your bedroom is your sanctuary; it is not a place to work, catch up on your favorite tv show, or exercise. It is a place to relax and get some sleep. Invest in a good mattress and linens and make your bed as comfortable and as inviting as possible. Sometimes white noise can help, so try a fan – the constant hum may lull you to sleep!
3. Stop the caffeine. It is a vicious cycle – you are exhausted from a sleepless night, so you load up on coffee to get you through the day, and then it is difficult to get to sleep in the evening. Limit caffeine to the morning and drink herbal teas the rest of the day.
4. Get moving. Exercise promotes sounder sleep, but don’t do it just before bedtime, or you may be extra alert.
5. Drink milk. Milk contains magnesium, a natural relaxant. It also contains tryptophan, an amino acid that may enhance sleepiness. If you don’t eat dairy, you can also try magnesium supplements.
6. Put away your phone. Studies have shown the blue light that these devices emit messes with your sleep. Instagram, Facebook and emails can wait until the morning. If you have trouble with this, leave your phone in another room.
7. Weighted blanket. Using a weighted blanket may help you fall asleep faster. Long used as a sleep aid and anxiety reducer for people with conditions including ASD, ADHD, and sensory processing disorders, weighted blankets have definitely caught the interest of the general public. They can help you feel more secure, and may help reduce cortisol (stress hormone) and increase oxytocin (feel-good hormone). Look for a blanket that is about 10% of your body weight and one that has evenly distributed weight.
8. Try aromatherapy. Some people find that lavender is effective for promoting sleep. Spray a little lavender in the air or on your pillow before going to bed. Badger also makes a wonderful product called Night Night Balm, a soothing, scented balm targeted for kids, but really for anyone to help with unwinding from the day and getting ready to sleep. Moisturize your lips, or place some on your temples before going to bed!
9. Talk to a Village Green consultant about what supplements are available for sound sleep. There are many, and we can help you pick the right one for your needs. One of my favorites is Pathway Sleep Support. It contains a combination of supportive sleep products such as L-theanine, valerian and melatonin to promote a gentle effect to improve sleep and reduce nervousness. Managing your stress responses during the day can also lead you into a more peaceful night and prepare your body for an evening of sleep.
Photo from here, with thanks.