I was in the elevator the other day with one of the new mothers on our team. I had to ask, "How's everyone sleeping?" Sleep is the hot topic these days, new mom or not -- who's getting it, how much and when?
I'm lucky that I have never needed a lot of sleep, but I know people who need at least eight hours. My brother is an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of guy, while my boys... well, you can imagine what the sleep patterns of teenagers are.
On The Tory Blog, we dedicated a playlist to the art of sleeping.
Dr. Samantha Boardman, a clinical instructor in psychiatry and public health and an assistant attending psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College, wrote a column for The Tory Blog on why sleep is so important and how to get more of it.
Here is what Dr. Sam had to say on sleep:
Doctors and sleep experts recommend anywhere between 6.5 and 8 hours of sleep every night. Too often, work, school, everyday worries, snoring spouses, crying babies and outside noises interfere with a proper night's sleep, and it's taking a toll on our bodies, brains and faces.
I spoke to renowned sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, author of Beauty Sleep and The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan.
"When we experience long-term exhaustion, disappointment in our productivity, illness, weight gain and general feelings of depression and dissatisfaction with life," he says, "few of us stop to consider the one thing that can alleviate, if not prevent, all that: sleep."
Sleep is transformative, he says. While sleeping, the body regulates hormones that control appetite and metabolism. During deep sleep, the body releases a growth hormone that has a rejuvenating effect on the mind and body. Dr. Breus considers sleep to be a "natural cosmetic" that restores skin elasticity, smoothes wrinkles, strengthens hair and nails and boosts metabolism.
I asked Dr. Breus for some tips on how to get more sleep:
1. Rise. Shine. Repeat. Waking up at the same time every day sets your body on the right sleeping schedule regardless of the time you went to bed.
2. Let the Sun Shine In. Whether it's through the window or on your way to work, getting direct sun for 15 minutes every day helps your body reset its internal clock.
3. Have a Nap-a-Latte. If you need a midday pick-me-up, drink one cup of cool-drip coffee followed by a 20-minute nap before 2 p.m. The caffeine kicks in by the time the nap ends.
4. Schedule Coffee, Cocktails and Cardio. Eliminate caffeine after 2 p.m. Resist alcohol three hours before bedtime and stop exercising four hours before bed.
5. Make Your Bed. Clean Your Room. People sleep better in a made bed and a tidy bedroom. Change your sheets at least once a week. Invest time and money in a pillow and mattress that is comfortable for you.
6. "Turn Off" 60 Minutes Before Bed... Dr. Breus calls this the "Power Down Hour." No email, no video games, no work, no bills -- nothing stimulating or anxiety-provoking. Think 20 minutes for hygiene, 20 minutes for meditation, 20 minutes for relaxation.
7....Or Tune In. As counterintuitive as this sounds, it's okay to watch television in bed. Some people need it to turn their brain off. Try a half-hour sitcom. Avoid the news, action movies or stimulating reality shows.
8. To Read or To Be Read To. Try reading fiction, especially familiar stories, or have your partner read to you. Listening to an audio book works, too.
9. Warning: Over-the-Counter Medication. If you take over-the-counter "PM" medication more than 10 nights per month, Dr. Breus suggests talking to your doctor. Their effects can last for 12 hours and leave you feeling groggy. Also, they contain ingredients that may be harmful if taken regularly.
10. Melatonin: Natural Doesn't Mean Safe. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep, and can be safe and effective when used properly, however most take too high of a dose. Before taking melatonin, discuss with your doctor.
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Flickr photo by Adikos