Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep
All of a sudden, I’ve heard complaints about trouble sleeping from several of my clients. Could it be the seasonal change— more light than dark? Or adjusting to daylight savings time? Medications? Food? Even stress? Could be one or a combination. Counting sheep doesn’t work at all.
My client, Kay, a gorgeous woman with a great body, asked me last week if I had any hints for insomnia. Seems she often goes to bed at 11 p.m. and wakes up at 1 a.m. She gets up and then tries to get back to sleep, with no success. “It’s quite frustrating,” she said. She says she finally gets back to sleep for an hour or two then she’s back up at 6 a.m. She is up for the rest of the day. Kay is missing her most beneficial sleep— REM sleep. It’s when you get the most restful and relaxing sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. Kay felt tired and dragged out. “Any advice?” she asked. I hear napping throughout the day helps.
We usually adjust our sleeping habits once we get used to the seasonal time change, so we ruled that one out. Daylight savings doesn’t last forever and she had kind of adjusted to it.
How about her medications? Well, that’s possible, Kay is taking multiple prescriptions. Her doctor and/or pharmacist could help her out on that one for sure.
But her lack of sleeping could be due to her diet. If you eat spicy food, fatty food, or a meal rich in protein, then it’s usually a guarantee that you will have trouble sleeping. Another type of problem food would be the ones with caffeine in them. Cola, coffee, and chocolate could keep you awake at night. And don’t forget tea, it’s just as bad. Like to have a drink at night? Any type of alcohol will keep you from a somber snooze. Wine isn’t any better than hard liquor—so avoid both. They have a lot in common. Both tend to wake you up more often, bring on headaches, and generate nightmares.
And let’s talk about drinking H20. Seems that drinking water, even a couple of hours before bed, could wake you up often. Some people do this and it becomes a regular habit of getting up in the middle of the night to use the facilities.
Then again a probable cause could be totally physical. Guys, have that prostate checked out, and ladies make sure you don’t have a urinary tract infection or kidney disease. Sleep apnea may be another cause.
Now, let’s get back to the natural way to try and sleep. Try stretching before you retire for the night. Vigorous upper and lower body stretching is good to do before retiring for the night. It does work—so give it a go.
Foods that have tryptophan in them help people sleep throughout the night. I’m talking about warm milk, honey, oats, yogurt, cottage cheese, or a small bit of chicken. They’ll help you nod off and stay asleep.
A late night snack will help greatly if it is carb related. Notice I said snack—no pigging out. A small bowl of cereal with milk works for some. One of my clients, Ted, has a small bowl of ice cream before he retires for the night. He swears it works. Keep it simple—keep your snack reasonable, and clear your mind before you go to bed and hopefully it will allow you to stay in la la land a lot longer. Nighty night.
Rick Moore is a personal trainer certified by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates.