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Monday, May 18, 2009

Better Night's Sleep

BSC spokesperson and lifestyle expert Lissa Coffey and Dr. Douglas MacKay, CRN, offer these sleep and healthy lifestyle tips for stress relief and sleeping better, especially during these worrisome economic times. If you’ve tried some of these tips and you’re still not getting the quality sleep that you need, consult your healthcare professional. Here’s to rejuvenating sleep and many sweet dreams!

Create a sleep sanctuary: Your bedroom should be a soothing space, conducive to relaxation and indulgent comfort.

Commit to getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night and keep a consistent sleep-wake schedule.

Keep the room dark, quiet, comfortable, cool and clutter-free—that also means keeping work materials, computers and televisions out of the bedroom.

Choose the right mattress for your needs—a quality, comfortable, supportive and correct-sized mattress, is key to healthy sleep. For example, two people sharing a bed should select a queen or king-sized mattress that allows room to move easily.

Evaluate your mattress regularly—experts recommend that you evaluate and consider replacing your mattress every five to seven years, sooner if the mattress shows signs of wear, such as lumps or sagging.

Supplement your sleep: Vitamins and other dietary supplements are good for your overall well-being. According to CRN, certain supplements may help promote healthy sleep patterns. Before taking any supplements, be sure to consult your healthcare professional and always follow label directions. You and your doctor may consider the following supplements to help your quality of sleep:

Melatonin—a natural hormone produced in the brain—helps regulate the human biological clock. Taken one to two hours before bed, it can help people who have a hard time sleeping.

Valerian—an herbal supplement that has long been used as a natural sedative—may help you deal with stress more effectively, sleep more restfully and transition to sleep more easily.
5-HTP—also known as 5-Hydroxytryptophan—is an amino acid that helps the body make serotonin and tryptophan and has been shown to improve the duration and depth of sleep.

Magnesium and calcium—daily doses of these minerals can help to relax tight muscles and keep muscle cramps at bay.

Sleep-proof your diet: When and what you eat can have a big impact on how well you sleep.
Strive to consume a well-balanced, healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, throughout the day for overall good health.

Avoid eating a large meal or consuming, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine within two hours of bedtime and keep food out of the bedroom.

Try some protein, especially turkey, or dairy foods—both are good sources of tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into melatonin and serotonin, which may naturally induce sleep.

Remember to take your daily multivitamin—most people don’t eat as well as they should all of the time and a simple multivitamin can affordably and safely fill nutrition gaps in the diet and help promote good health.

Exercises for enhanced sleep: Engaging in one or more of these mind and body exercises may help improve your quality of sleep.

Work out regularly—research shows that moderate aerobic exercises lasting 20 to 30 minutes
four to five times a week will help you sleep better and give you more energy.

Try meditating or doing yoga—they’re good ways to unwind and can help lower your heart rate and blood pressure, allowing you to doze off quicker and sleep more peacefully.


Lissa Coffey is the author of several books, including the best-selling "What's Your Dosha, Baby?" She appears on national TV with her lifestyle and relationship tips, including The Today Show, and has been featured in magazines like Redbook and Woman's Day. Learn more, and sign up for any of Lissa's free e-mail newsletters at:

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