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Five Non-Negotiable Rules For Better Sleep

Getting good zzz's is crucial to your health, but listening to the experts talk about the "rules" for getting a good night's rest can make it seem like an impossible dream. What can you get away with? What can't you? Here are five flat-out, non-negotiable rules for good, consistent slumber:

-- Cut caffeine after 1-2 p.m.: Traces of it can stay in your system for 8-14 hours. Even if you can down a cup of coffee at 4 p.m. and nod off effortlessly, the caffeine will prevent you from going into deeper phases of sleep.

-- Wake up at the same time every day: Sleeping in regularly throws off your internal clock. If you're exhausted, take a nap later in the day.

-- Get help for a snoring husband: Wives of snorers get about an hour less of sleep each night. Encouraging your hubby to lose weight, sleep on his side and use a saline nasal wash may help. He can also try a new product called Brez: Small pieces of plastic open up the nostrils. And at his next check up he should mention his snoring. There's a chance he could have sleep apnea.

-- Keep worrying out of the bedroom: The next time your head hits the pillow and you start obsessing about your 401(k) or to-do list, get up, go into another room and write down your concerns. Or try to schedule "worry time" (maybe a half-hour after dinner) for writing your list.

-- Curb fluids after 8 p.m.: Drink the bulk of your beverages during the day; only have one or two glasses in the three to four hours before bed. Otherwise, that gotta-go urge will wake you up.

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