Monday, February 23, 2009

Fit FactorY: The Science of Sleep

I recently watched a 60 Minutes stint featuring "The Science of Sleep". It basically highlights the importance of getting a good night's sleep. Ideally, you should be getting at least 7 hours a sleep every night. Otherwise, you will find your attention span and memory skills deteriorating with every night that you don't get enough Zzz's.

What the show failed to emphasize enough is the quality of sleep. There is a big difference between sleeping 7 hours at night but waking up for a few minutes in 2 hour intervals as opposed to sleeping 7 hours straight. Of course, the latter is preferred if you want to keep fit.

However, not all of us have the fortune of sleeping straight. Most of us suffer from what they scientifically call sleep apnea. This is an extremely frustrating condition to have. I should know, because I am one of the victims of this. I wake up at least twice in the middle of the night, such that when I wake up in the morning, I don't feel as refreshed as I ought to be despite the total hours I put into my snooze.

There are a lot of tips out there that can aid you in your sleep. I find these tips the most helpful (they have not completely eradicated my waking up in the middle of the night, but I am at least having an easier time falling asleep now):

1. Make a complete distinction between your wake up time and sleepy time through light.
When you wake up, make sure you turn on the lights, let the sunlight in, etc. to let your body clock know that it's morning. Conversely, if you're going to bed, make sure
you keep your room as dim as possible.

2. Slather some lavender oil on your body.
The soothing smell of this oil relaxes you and helps you in your sleep.

3. Don't drink too much water an hour before you plan to sleep.
If you drink too much water, you'll end up waking up to go to the toilet frequently.

4. Establish a night routine.
Do the same routine every night before bed time, one that involves relaxing yourself (ex. taking a warm bath, light reading, meditation) so that psychologically, you will start to feel sleepy just by doing your night routine.

5. Bedtime snacks, anyone?
Try taking a glass of warm milk or a cup of hot chamomile tea, or eating a banana. Banana, milk, and tea is a Tryptophan amino acid factory.

Hopefully, these tips can help you too.

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