How to Get the Sleep You Need
You can, however, reclaim a few z's. Short naps -- tucked
behind an office door, or while the kids are at school -- are one way. About
half the world takes an afternoon siesta, and with good reason: Body
temperature and alertness dip during mid-afternoon, a sneak preview of bedtime
biology. A short nap -- 15 to 30 minutes -- will help you perk up, while a
longer nap sails you into deep sleep and actually may make you groggy. If naps
don't work, try going to bed half an hour earlier at night and waking at your
normal time. This gradual approach will keep your sleep cycle in sync while you
Healthy habits outside the bedroom can improve sleep, too. Take
exercise. In one study, Michael Vitiello, a sleep researcher at the University
of Washington, found that people who ran or walked 40 minutes, three days a
week, experienced longer periods of deep sleep than a more inert comparison
group. This and other studies suggest exercise somehow alters metabolism,
setting your body up for more restful sleep.
To pump up your slumber, exercise during the day, before
dinner, Vitiello says. And start slowly. "Don't go from being a couch
potato to walking 15 miles," he cautions. "That's too much stress on
your body, and you probably won't sleep well."
In fact, Vitiello notes, dreamy sleep is just one more reason
to boost your all-around fitness -- inside and out. You'll feel your best if
you eat right, exercise and tackle the stresses of the day. It's old advice.
But it's one route to happiness -- morning, noon and night.
10 Tips to Get More Sound Sleep
- Go bland before bedtime. To fall asleep quickly, avoid caffeine, nicotine
and alcohol for at least four hours before you go to bed.
- Be predictable. Go to bed around the same time every night, and try to
follow a similar routine.
- Don't toss and turn. If you can't sleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed
and do something else.
- Save the bed for sleep and sex. Avoid paying bills, reading the paper or
watching TV in bed.
- Take a bath. When your body gets ready for sleep, your temperature drops. A
bath may nudge your bedtime biochemistry along.
- Exercise early. If you exercise, do it before dinner, not after.
- Get dark. People usually sleep best in a cool, dark environment. Invest in
heavy drapes if city lights glare outside.
- Grab a snack. It's hard to sleep hungry, so try a light snack before
bedtime. Some researchers think tryptophan, a chemical found in milk, naturally
- Cut naps short. If you have trouble falling asleep, consider avoiding naps.
At the very least, limit them to less than an hour before mid-afternoon.
- Deal with stress. If daytime troubles keep you awake, try jotting notes
about ways to deal with them. Leave stress at the bedroom door, if you