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How to: Get the Best Sleep

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How to: Get the Best Sleep

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Hey all! Over the school year, I’m going to write multiple “How to” columns. I write them for two simple reasons: I feel in my heart that they will be very beneficial to any reader. And also because they’re fun to write.

I find it hard to find my fellow students, and myself, not yawning throughout the school day. Although this could be a result from Netflixing or playing video games all night, there are a few tricks to getting a good night’s sleep each night.

Watch your afternoon drinks. Be careful about drinking caffeine in the afternoon. Going on a QT run after school? Try to avoid drinking anything with caffeine after 2 p.m. Joan Salge Blake, RD, a clinical associate professor at Boston University warns. Don’t grab a tea, soda, flavored water or coffee drink. Instead, check the labels on drinks to make sure there’s no caffeine. My mom has a collection of caffeine free teas and says they taste no different from teas with caffeine.

Eat the right foods. Don’t go to bed with a full stomach. Although fast food is easy (and usually tasty) go the extra mile with your dinner if you’ve had a few restless nights. Eating a light, whole wheat pasta meal with chicken and vegetables helps sleep. Or if  you don’t have much time try nibbling on a graham cracker, drinking milk, or eating yogurt with cereal. Cottage cheese with banana slices will also help promote sleeping-aiding tryptophan. I’m not a huge fan of cottage cheese, but if you use it instead of dressing in a salad, it’s delicious.

Take morning or early night baths or showers.  Taking hot baths or showers before hitting the hay will raise your body temperature and make it harder for you to fall asleep. Your body needs to be cool, not hot to get into a deep sleep. So try waking up a bit early to shower or take one earlier than your bedtime, suggests J. Todd Arnedt, Ph.D., director of the University of Michigan Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program. However, if you are not an early riser like me, waking up earlier in the morning just to shower sounds horrendous. What I try to do is to take a shower about half an hour before I go to bed, and wear light pajamas.

Stretch for a bit.  Before crawling into your bed, try stretching. This can steady your breathing, help your mind de-stress, and relax your muscles. Learn a few different yoga positions and do them every night, especially if you’re stressed, since anxiety and stress can increase insomnia according to Health.com.

Turn the lights down low. Obviously sleeping with the lights off is important. But the half hour or so before sleeping is also important when it comes to the lights. Dim the overhead lights or use lamps to illuminate your last minutes before bed. With the lights low, it signals your internal body clock that it’s time to wind down, and to start relaxing. If you like to read in bed (I do!) read by a book light or the lowest setting your lights will go.

Say no to phones. Sending out one last tweet or playing one more round in a game can send your body “I’m awake” signals and keep you up, not wind you down. Get into a practice of turning your phone off about an hour before you plan to go to bed. So during your last homework assignment or right before you grab your night time book, turn off your phone. Leave it out of reach, so you won’t involuntarily grab it if it buzzes. I snake my phone around the door, so it’s not in my room during the night. This also calms my folks who stress about cell phone radiation.

* information gathered from http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/17/how.best.sleep/

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