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005 - Getting Enough Sleep

posted Nov 10, 2015, 6:28 AM by Doug Muha   [ updated Nov 10, 2015, 6:28 AM ]

Counselor Notes 5

February 29, 2012

Getting Enough Sleep


Last month's Counselor Notes focused on the importance of sleep.  This month I am passing along a list of tips for getting a good night's rest.  These are for both children and adults.  Individuals should also consider if their / their child's condition warrants a consultation with a medical doctor.   For those that don't need a doctor, here are some thoughts on how to improve your / your child's sleep:
 
1.  Emotional Situations / Stress - unsettling things in a person’s life affect their quality of sleep.  Practicing effective stress management can hep you sleep better.  http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/tips-reduce-stress   
 
2.  Exercise - the proper amount of exercise to tire (not exhaust!) the body is helpful in getting a good night sleep.  Too much exercise too close to bed time may hinder a person trying to get to sleep.  Exercise during the daylight hours and take things a bit easier at night.  Outdoor exercise is better than the indoor type.   A good cardiovascular workout is better than something like golf or bowling.  

"A good night's sleep can improve your concentration, productivity and mood. And you guessed it — physical activity is sometimes the key to better sleep. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. There's a caveat, however. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you may be too energized to fall asleep. If you're having trouble sleeping, you might want to exercise earlier in the day."  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676/NSECTIONGROUP=2  
 
3.  Home Environment - A room that is too hot or cold, too noisy or too brightly lit will all hinder getting to sleep.  Have enough, but not too many blankets.  Maintain a place conducive to sleep.  I have heard that people usually sleep better when the room is between 60 & 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  This of course assumes that the person is actually warm enough.   (People tend to think better in a cold room too.)
 
4.  Medication - a side effect of some medications is difficulty getting to sleep.  Talk to your doctor about any medications and possible substitutes if the medication is affecting sleep.  (Sleeping pills tend to diminish R.E.M. sleep and thus a person may wake up not feeling as rested.)
 
5.  Pre-sleep Activities - Engaging in highly stimulating activities (ex// video games) or  watching something too lively on television may also hinder sleep.   
 
6.  Routine - a regular bedtime and routine prior to getting ready for bed are helpful.        Keep the same bedtime on the weekends as on the weekdays for children who have trouble getting to sleep.
 
7.  Naps - sometimes napping during the day to catch up on sleep missed during the night causes sleep to be missed at night - consider eliminating naps.  Of course if other things fail, consider taking a nap during the day to catch up on sleep missed during the night.
 
8.  Caffeine - the half life of caffeine is somewhere between 6 and 8 hours.  I heard once that more than 300 mg per day is going to impact individuals.  (Sensitive individuals may be impacted at lower levels though.)  From the Mayo Clinic:
·         "...  some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than are others. In such individuals, caffeine may worsen existing depression. How or why this occurs isn't clear. But several theories exist.
·         Although caffeine initially gives you a "lift," it may later have the opposite effect as the effects of the caffeine wear off.
·         Caffeine can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. A lack of sleep can worsen depression.
·         Caffeine appears to have some effect on blood sugar, especially in people with diabetes. Fluctuations in blood sugar can be associated with mood changes."
       - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine-and-depression/AN01700   
 
9.  Diet - here is a good site on sleep and diet: http://www.holisticonline.com/Remedies/Sleep/sleep_ins_food-and-diet.htm 
From  http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/T042400.asp comes this advice about diet and sleep:

 I found that the best foods to help sleep are those containing Tryptophan. Some examples are
·         Dairy products: cottage cheese, cheese, milk
·         Soy products: soy milk, tofu, soybean nuts
·         Seafood
·         Meats
·         Poultry
·         Whole grains
·         Beans
·         Rice
·         Hummus
·         Lentils
·         Hazelnuts, Peanuts
·         Eggs
·         Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds

Also, it's good to eat foods high in Carbohydrates and low in protein, two hours before bedtime to help give a calming sleep inducing effect. Examples are
·         apple pie and ice cream
·         whole-grain cereal with milk
·         hazelnuts and tofu
·         oatmeal and raisin cookies, and a glass of milk
·         peanut butter sandwich
·         pasta with parmesan cheese
·         scrambled eggs and cheese
·         tofu stir fry
·         hummus with whole wheat pita bread
·         seafood, pasta, and cottage cheese
·         meats and poultry with veggies
·         tuna salad sandwich
·         chili with beans, not spicy
·         sesame seeds
 
10.  Supplements - from the book “Food & Mood” by Elizabeth Somer (ISBN 0-8050-3125-1):
·         “Chronic insomniacs began sleeping better within days of taking daily B12 supplements.” (p. 212)
·         “Vitamin B6 is also suspect in insomnia.” (p. 212)
·         “74% of asthmatics and 90% of people suffering from depression report difficulties sleeping.” (p. 202)
·         “Research indicates that more than half the time insomnia is caused by psychological and emotional stress.”  (p. 202)
·         “Sometimes sleep disturbances result from sporadic sleeping habits, a disruption in normal sleeping patterns (such as being on vacation or sleeping in an unfamiliar bed), or afternoon naps.”  (p. 203)
·         “Alcohol and other depressants suppress a phase of sleeping called REM ….  Less REM is associated with more night awakenings and more restless sleep.” (p. 206)
·         “Spicy or gas-forming foods also might be contributing to your sleep problems.” (p. 207
·         Possible gas producing foods include: apples (raw), beans, broccoli, corn, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, peas, radishes, sauerkraut, soybeans, and watermelon.  (p. 208)
·         Food seasoned with MSG (monosodium glutamate)… can cause sleep disturbances in some people. (p. 207) (Note MSG is often added to Chinese food and is also used in things like Doritoes.)
·         Tryptophan is an amino acid that is essentially your body’s sleeping pill.  You can give yourself a boost of tryptophan by eating a high carbohydrate, low protein snack (ex: a bagel) one or two hours before bedtime.  (p. 211) (Note serotonin levels are also dependent on tryptophan levels.)
 
11.  Alcohol - also know to decrease REM sleep and thus a person will awaken not feeling as rested. 
 "Alcohol consumption can induce sleep disorders by disrupting the sequence and duration of sleep states and by altering total sleep time as well as the time required to fall asleep (i.e., sleep latency)."  http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/alerts/l/blnaa41.htm 
 
12.  Nicotine - considered in the class of drugs known as stimulants.  Not what the central nervous system needs as it tries to get to sleep.  

"If you want to get eight straight hours of sleep, smoking is a major interference. Nicotine, like caffeine, is a stimulant, and it will keep you from relaxing and falling asleep at night."   http://remsleep.overnightmiracle.com/rem-sleep-smoking-and-your-sleep/ 
 
13.  The Pillow - There was an article in The Tennessean  (3-29-06, p. 1D) which talked about the importance of the pillow.  It spoke of how people really need the right pillow and lots of us are using old worn out ones. The advice: Try out several types of pillows on an actual bed before buying one and don’t be alarmed at spending over $20 on a pillow.

Stomach sleepers need a really soft pillow with little elevation; back sleepers need a “medium pillow with moderate elevation,” and side sleepers need a “firmer pillow with higher elevation.”  Get a new pillow every two years.  (This avoids build up of dust mites which hinder breathing for some people.)  A flat or lumpy pillow that doesn’t “re-fluff” is a prime candidate to be replaced.
Test your pillow by folding it in half and putting a sneaker on top.  If the pillow throws the sneaker off when released from the fold, it is okay.  If the pillow doesn’t unfold, it is time for a new one.  The article talked about the importance of “postural alignment” and pillows play a role in that.   Some people who sleep on their side buy pillows that are specifically designed to go between their knees claiming it helps them sleep better.  
 
14.  Yoga / Massage - when the mind is wound up, the body will follow and get wound up too.  That is a recipe for sleep problems.  One can relax the body through yoga and massage.  The body thus relaxed will help influence the mind to relax too.  One mind-body system.   This 8 minute yoga routine may help: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/yoga/poses/yoga-routine-before-sleep/
 
Too much light (which would include light from watching TV) may not be good before bedtime either:
http://sleepeducation.blogspot.com/2011/01/artificial-light-at-night-may-lower.html
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608071941.htm

 
16.  Miscellaneous -  A spine out of whack, even just a bit, is going to create problems.  Try a good chiropractor and see if that doesn't help.  (It certainly won't hurt!)

CNN had an interesting article with a number of good tips for getting a good night’s rest: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/10/29/health.great.sleep.secrets/index.html?hpt=Sbin  
 
 
Health.com gives these sites that may help:
 ·         8 natural remedies that may help you sleep: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20306715,00.html?xid=comcast-hlh-factors-keeping-awake-061411
·         7 tips for the best sleep ever: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20407230,00.html?xid=comcast-hlh-factors-keeping-awake-061411  
17.  The Professionals - The medical world is paying an increasing amount of attention to the importance of sleep.  There are some sleep disorders that like sleep apnea that require professional attention.  http://helpguide.org/life/sleep_disorders.htm  Individuals struggling with sleep issues should consider consulting with a medical doctor.
 
Noting all the issues connected to poor sleep, I hope that this helps those in need of a better night's rest!
 
Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School


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