Want to learn how to sleep better? You're not alone. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from sleep disorders, and it can take a terrible toll.
I know from first-hand experience. A few years ago I had trouble going to sleep, staying asleep, waking up, and then functioning during the day. I remember it as "my year from hell." Sleeping was easy, then all of a sudden, it wasn't.
Because sleep is such a problem for so many people, some destination spas and wellness centers offer sleep programs. But few go as far as Pritikin Longevity Center at The Doral in Miami, Florida, which has a sleep program directed by Sam Judah Sugar, M.D., FACP. "Sleep disorders and obesity go hand-in-hand," he explains. "So often when you take care of sleep problems, losing weight gets much easier."
Dr. Sugar's Top Tips For How To Sleep
1. Change your mind-set about sleep. "Many of us think of sleep as something that we need to cram in between living, like a skinny piece of bologna slapped between two big chunks of bread. That is so wrong! We need to change our mind-set and think of sleep as a gift. We need to think of poor-quality sleep, or insufficient sleep, as a curse.
"Because of poor-quality or poor-quantity sleep, we are often hit with problems like daytime fatigue or sleepiness, morning headaches, anxiety or depression, addiction to sleeping pills, increased risk of diabetes and other cardiovascular-related disease, and even trouble losing excess weight.
"With good-quality sleep, and plenty of it (7 to 8 hours nightly), we enjoy the exact opposite: better health, better lives, happier lives. And we even significantly boost our success in shedding excess weight. That's because good sleep results in lower levels of hormones in our body that trigger appetite."
"Don’t crawl into bed at night with the TV blaring and the lights on, newspapers and other reading material spread out over your bed. The only thing that should be happening in your bedroom at night is sex or sleep. That’s it. When you get rid of the noise and lights, and keep your room temperature nice and cool, it’s much easier to fall into soothing, deep, restful sleep."
3. After 7 p.m. get clean and cozy.
"After 7 p.m. don’t partake of sleep robbers like alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and food, especially fatty, heavy, high-sugar, and/or spicy foods. And, while a commitment to exercise is admirable, don’t take off the gym in the evening hours. That nighttime workout may wake you up, literally, which is the last you need when you’re trying to fall off to sleep later in the evening."
4. Talk to your doctor. Don’t ever minimize symptoms.
"Poor sleep could be the result of a very serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea. Having sleep apnea can greatly increase your risk of life-threatening problems like heart attacks and strokes.
Pay attention to symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, snoring, needing to urinate repeatedly during both day and night, and waking up with a dry mouth. All could be symptoms of sleep apnea. Your doctor can likely recognize these symptoms, and others and prescribe treatments that can be very effective.
"Talking to your doctor and getting treatment for sleep apnea, if needed, can improve your life tremendously. The benefits of treating sleep apnea include better blood pressure, more daytime energy, far less snoring at night, and a much lower risk of heart disease, right heart failure, and sudden death.
"You’ll also shed weight more easily. You’ll enhance your weight loss efforts. Your body is no longer fighting pound-producing hormonal disturbances caused by sleep loss. In fact, losing just 10 to 15 percent of excess body weight may improve sleep apnea so much that it disappears."
Disclosure: Please note this document has not been medically reviewed.