Nurses have a love/hate relationship with sleep – love it when you can get it, hate it when you have to struggle to stay awake during a 10-hour workday or a graveyard shift.
Here's the latest news on how you can catch more restful shut-eye, starting tonight.
1. Gadget power!
There are all kinds of new devices and apps on the market for improving personal health habits, including sleep hygiene. Take a look at some and see what appeals to you. Some are spending, and others are quiet reasonable.
One example: the Philips Wake-Up Light (usa.philips.com) costs $100 and makes waking up a more pleasant, more natural experience. The light simulates a sunrise by getting brighter over a 30 minute span, rather than jarring you awake with a spotlight of bright artificial light. If you tend to hit the snooze alarm over and over because you can't face the morning, this light just may be the thing to gently welcome you to the new day.
2. Toss out your old mattress and pillows.
If your mattress is getting elderly (10 years is the recommended lifetime for even a deluxe mattress) then you may want to retire it. You'll know when it's time because you'll wake up stiff and sore even though you haven't changed your habits.
While you're at it, consider replacing your old, flattened out pillows too. (Two years is the recommended lifetime for those.) You may find that you don't suffer as many allergy symptoms, either, with your new bedding. Dust mites are the culprit there.
3. Get in a work-out.
Exercise will improve your sleep, even if you work up a sweat up to four hours before bedtime. Even 30 minutes of exercise three times a week have a positive effect on insomnia. The only drawback? It can take up to four months to see results. Nobody knows what the mechanism is that improves sleep but one theory is that it's a domino effect: exercise improves mood, which then impacts sleep patterns.
What works for you when you have difficulty sleeping when you want to? Let us know!
Jebra Turner is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at www.jebra.com.