You know the expression about opinions. Seems like everybody's got a good solution about how you can sleep well at night. A pair of new sleep studies had some interesting conclusions. They talked about how to get good sleep while you're awake.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 percent of American workers—about 40.6 million of us—average no more than six hours of sleep a day.
Here's what the study suggested:
• Be active.Exercise not only keeps your muscles, bones, and heart strong, but it may help you sleep. A recent article published in the Journal of Physiotherapy concluded that participating in an exercise training program had moderately positive effects on sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults. Althea Zanecosky, a fellow dietician of Lafayette Hill, Penn., credits her good sleep to frequent morning and after-dinner walks. Robin Plotkin, another dietician from Dallas, Tex., agrees that exercise is key to her sleeping success. "If I don't exercise for several days, I find it takes me longer to fall asleep," she says. Because the post-exercise body needs a few hours to cool down—and a cool body sleeps better—it's best to be active earlier in the day.
• Say yes to carbs. A steady dose of carbohydrate-rich foods can energize you by day, and hit your sweet spot by night. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in eggs, chickpeas, and turkey creates serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you settle down. It's the carbohydrate, however, that carries tryptophan to the brain to work its magic. Aim for half of your daily calories to come from carbohydrates, and choose mainly oatmeal and other whole grains, fruits, vegetables (including potatoes), legumes, and low-fat dairy foods. (Keep dinners and bedtime snacks small, since large, late meals can adversely affect sleep.)
• Be careful with caffeine. A stimulant of the central nervous system, caffeine is known to delay sleepiness and cause sleep disturbances. It also inhibits some sleep-promoting hormones. Because caffeine stays in the body for several hours, it's wise to abstain at least several hours before you hit the sack.
• Nix the nightcap. Alcohol seems to encourage excess food intake. And while it may also help you fall asleep, studies suggest it promotes a restless sleep and increases daytime fatigue. Current dietary guidelines allow for one drink a day for women, and two for men (one drink equals 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits). But if it's a good sleep you're after, drink earlier in the day (that is, if your boss lets you!) or rethink that drink altogether.
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