Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not Feeling Festive? Get Your Zzzzzzzzzzzs

You have probably read many articles about the importance of a good night sleep. Good sleep is not only important to your physical health, it is also key to a good mood. Getting plenty of sleep during this busy season is difficult, for sure.  However, it is essential. The holidays put extra emotional and physical demands on us, and sleep helps us bounce back, maintain perspective, and stay healthy.

Not only is the quantity of your sleep important, the quality of your sleep is, too. Sleep quality can be enhanced in many ways: a cool but not cold room temperature, a very dark bedroom, a comfortable bed without pets or children hogging the bed. Those of us who have reached - ahem - "middle age" have biological factors that make our sleep less sound than it used to be, and may need to take extra steps to insure a good night's sleep.

The first suggestions I make to clients who are frustrated by poor sleep are:
  • eliminate afternoon caffeine
  • limit alcohol to one (women) or two  (men) drinks
  • try deep breathing or alternate nostril breathing* when you can't sleep
  • turn off all electronics, including the TV, an hour before bed
  • keep a small journal or pad near your bed, and write down any thoughts or chores that are nagging at you
  • no vigorous exercise closer than three hours to bed time
If you have made these changes and are still having problems falling asleep or staying asleep, or usually feel grouchy or tired in the morning, it is probably time to get some help. I find clients often hesitate to see an internist or psychiatrist to discuss medical interventions for insomnia. However, I urge them to do so, as I have witnessed tremendous improvement in mood and stamina in those who have sought treatment.

Sleep can make the difference between a good day and a bad one
There are natural sleep remedies that are effective for many people. There are also several sleep medications that have been developed in the last decade that at the right dose do not leave people feeling groggy or "hungover".  I  prefer environmental and natural sleep interventions. However, the effect of sleep on quality of life is so profound that medication should be considered if other interventions fail to help.

If the shopping and wrapping are feeling more like torture than fun, crawl into bed early tonight and take a long winter's nap.

Wishing you more "ho ho ho's" and less stress;  good health, and peace this holiday season.

Be well,

For more information on alternate nostril breathing, go to:

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