“Dealing with sleep problems?” Roizen and Oz (2005) reported in You the Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger, that in relation to sleep problems, “with some major exceptions, sleep is a lot like sex. It’s something you really look forward to, and it makes you feel great when you’re done. Most important, though, sleep is more like your boss-it’s much more agreeable when it goes uninterrupted”. Dealing with sleep problems is one of the most important things you can do as getting a good nights sleep is one of the more crucial ways that you can make your body actually feel younger. Getting about seven hours or more of sleep a night can have a profound effect on your heart and brain making you feel up to three years younger (Roizen & Oz, 2005). Sleep problems, or lack of sleep can make you less mentally aware, could cause you eat more and be potentially at higher risk for accidents. Being fatigued may put you at risk for making choices that age you such as choosing the wrong foods when you’re tired.
Common sleep problems like sleep apnea, occur when you’re not getting enough REM or slow wave sleep, which is believed to be the most rejuvenating phase of your sleep cycle. Sleeping pills seem to work in the short term but are not considered a long term solution because most are addictive. Instead it is probably better to address your sleep problems in a more natural way through some of the following suggestions:
Get into a schedule. Many people simply don’t realize how important it is to get into a schedule and set their biological clock. Your biological clock works best as it did when you were a baby, when you got up at the same time every day. On the weekends, it is very important to get up within one hour of the time you get up during the week.
Pay attention to your room environment and temperature. A very common reason for sleep problems is that the room is too warm or too light. The ideal setting is a cool, dark room. You may try removing a layer of clothing such as your socks, or lowering the thermostat.
Sleep problems: Eat smaller portions of food before going to bed. If you eat foods that contain melatonin, a substance that helps to regulate your body clock, you may also get some relief from your sleep problems. Some of foods containing melatonin include oats, sweet corn or rice. Or you may try complex carbohydrates that have serotonin like vegetables or whole grain pasta. Also, you may consider the classic remedy; skim milk. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and never exercise before bedtime.
Use your bedroom for sleep and sex. Another common issue that contributes to sleep problems is that people use their bedroom for multiple purposes besides sleep. It’s best to take work, computers and televisions out of the sleeping area so the environmental cues when you are in your bedroom are that “it’s time to sleep”.
Some information from You The Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger by Michael F. Roizen M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz M.D.
Additional information and webpage by Paul Susic M.A. Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)