Sleep: What you need to know

How much sleep is the right amount?  Seven hours, (7), is the magic number.  When should you sleep?  You should try to be in bed by 10PM.  The hours from 10PM to 2AM are when your body does most of its’ self repair work, so timing is very important!

Tips for better sleep:

  • Invest in a great pillow
  • Set an alarm for 30 minutes before bed & turn down all the lights
  • If you watch TV, or are on your iPad, phone, tablet, or computer, invest in a pair of Gunnars.  They are yellow glasses that block blue light.  Blue light depletes melatonin, which is your sleep hormone.
  • Don’t eat after 8PM.  Your pancreas goes to sleep around 8PM, so eating after 8PM means the calories will be stored as fat.  If you need a nighttime snack because of low blood sugar, try a tablespoon of almond butter.  It contains protein and good fat to help with the low blood sugar in the middle of the night.
  • Don’t do anything stressful one hour before bed.  This includes paying bills, doing work, playing video games and watching violent TV shows.
  • Avoid exercise after 7PM.  People who have trouble sleeping should exercise in the morning if at all possible.  Exercising after 7PM stimulates your sympathetic nervous system which prevents you from relaxing.
  • Avoid caffeine 6 to 8 hours before bedtime, as it has a half-life of 8 hours.
  • The same goes for chocolate.  Chocolate contains caffeine.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Run to the sun!  In the morning throw all your shutters, blinds, or curtains, and turn on bright lights. This will stimulate cortisol production and help you wake up.
  • Avoid alcohol 2 hours before going to bed.  Alcohol interferes with REM sleep, and will leave you with unrefreshed sleep.
  • Get a Spoonk.  It is an acupressure mat that you lay on to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes sleep.  It is also helpful with chronic pain, arthritis, and Fibromyalgia.
  • Don’t try to do all of these at once.  Pick one or two that seem easy and add one more in a few days.

Here’s hoping you get a good nights’ rest!

Dr.Nancy Scheinost
Rheumatology of Brazos Valley


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