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March Pages 2017

248 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE stopped for a few minutes in traffic, you definitely need to consult a health professional immediately. If you simply feel a bit fatigued every now and then from burning the midnight oil, as we all do on occasion, then the following sleep hygiene tips may be just what the doctor ordered to reinstate a restorative sleep schedule: Keep Your Nights Dark and Cool In order to fall into a deep sleep, our bodies actually need to experience a drop in temperature of up to two degrees centigrade. Turning the thermostat down a few degrees below room temperature at night should do the trick, or perhaps opening a window. It can also be helpful to take a hot bath or shower about two hours before bedtime, as your core temperature will drop more efficiently afterwards and the effect of this should actually make you feel sleepier as well. Air conditioning in the hot summer months is a great investment for maintaining sleep hygiene, especially when you have to be up early and cannot wait for your bedroom to cool down naturally to go to sleep. Additionally, if you are travelling to attend a conference or meeting in a hot climate, always make sure that your accommodation features air conditioning. The cool air at night will also help you adjust to a different time zone and beat jet lag more quickly. To keep your nights dark, stay away from your smartphones, computers and televisions for at least half an hour before you go to bed. Studies show that the bright, blue light emitted from electrical devices actually simulates UV light, and can therefore cause us to feel more wakeful. Dim all the lights around your home before bedtime and enjoy a calm, serene atmosphere. And if in doubt put on Missouri Sky by Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny – Ed. Exercise Often our minds feel fatigued from a long day at work, but our bodies are still ready to move! We fall asleep faster and get more deep sleep when both our mind and body are sufficiently tired, and so physical exercise is a must for achieving optimal sleep hygiene. First thing in the morning or sometime between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the optimal times for moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise. This is because exercise that increases your heart rate significantly will also trigger a rush of adrenaline in your body that might keep you alert into the night if you work out too close to bedtime. If you are unable to schedule exercise during these times but you need to wind down after work, try taking a long walk outside. The fresh air and slow, steady strides will do wonders for calming the central nervous system and any anxious thoughts, without spiking your adrenaline.


March Pages 2017
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