Courtesy The Cooper Institute®
Adjusting to time changes—due to the twice-a-year time change or traveling to a different time zone—can wreak havoc on our sleep schedule. But for many of us, getting a healthy amount of sleep on a “normal” night can be a struggle. Most adults experience insomnia or sleeplessness at some point in their lives—an estimated 30–50% of the general U.S. population has suffered from acute insomnia, and 10% have chronic or long-term insomnia.
Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early in the morning. The cause is varied, from psychological issues to medical conditions to environment:
- Dozens of medical conditions, especially those which include chronic pain
- Snoring spouses
- Jet lag
- Shift work
- Poor bedroom environments
- Frequent bathroom visits
- And many more
The National Sleep Foundation recently released new sleep duration recommendations based on an expert panel of 18 leading research scientists’ review of more than 300 current scientific publications to determine how much sleep we really need. Adults age 18 and up should get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. It is important to note that this number needs to be genuine sleep time and does not account for the time it takes to fall asleep. See the sleep recommendations by visiting http://tiny.cc/SleepHealth.
Study after study has shown how a shortage of sleep can negatively affect one’s mood, decision-making and quality of life. Yet it remains difficult for us to prioritize the appropriate amount of sleep into our routine. Here are a few important practices to help in your fight for sleep, and each point corresponds with one of Dr. Cooper’s Eight Healthy Steps to Get Cooperized, which you can view by visiting http://tiny.cc/GetCooperized.
Healthy Habits to Combat Insomnia
- Exercise: According the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 poll, more than three-fourths of self-described exercisers say their sleep quality was very good or fairly good as compared to slightly more than one-half of non-exercisers. It is important to be mindful of what time of day you choose to exercise. Exercising within two hours of bedtime may stimulate you and cause trouble falling asleep. Also, consider what type of exercise you choose. While cardiovascular exercise early in the day helps sleep, activities such as yoga, tai chi and mindful relaxation have shown to improve sleep quality and decrease symptoms of insomnia and fatigue when practiced later in the day or evening.
- Diet: Avoid large meals and excessive fluids before bed. Also, avoid caffeine and alcohol approximately six hours before bedtime. Using alcohol as a sedative can be extremely misleading since the side effects of alcohol consumption are usually more detrimental to the natural sleep cycle.
- Lifestyle: Maintain a regular sleep schedule and do everything possible to stick to it. Keep a sleep log, so you can see patterns over time. Shut down electronic devices—email, texting, Facebook, as well as TV—well before bedtime, and have a routine in place to tell your body bedtime is coming. The routine might include a warm bath, listening to calming music or a relaxation tape or a bit of light reading. While there isn’t a lot of research on chamomile tea, the oils in chamomile tea are seen in Eastern medicine as supporting sleep, so you might also try a cup of warm chamomile tea as part of your bedtime routine. (Note, avoid chamomile tea if you are allergic to ragweed.)
- Visit Your Doctor: Acute or mild insomnia can often be prevented or treated by practicing good sleep habits, but if your insomnia persists or becomes severe, talk with your doctor about the problem. Your doctor will understand your individual health circumstances and is best qualified to determine what sleep aids (if any) are appropriate. Depending on what triggers your insomnia, behavior therapy may also be a suggested treatment.
How Supplements Can Help
If lifestyle changes do not alleviate your restless sleep, supplements may be another tool to help you get the rest you need. Here are a couple of natural supplements science has shown to have benefits.
- Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Studies show it can aid in falling asleep and promote better sleep throughout the night. Several human trials also suggest that taking melatonin on the day of travel close to the target bed time at the destination and continued for several days can help with jet lag symptoms. Cooper Complete® nutritional supplements offer two types of melatonin: Quick Release to help you fall asleep and Prolonged Release to help you sleep more soundly through the night. Children and pregnant or nursing women should not take melatonin as its safety has not yet been established for these groups.
- Magnesium plays a key role in the body’s sleep regulation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports people with long-term lack of sleep often have low magnesium in their blood. While magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts, legumes, green leafy vegetables and low-fat milk products, many people simply do not get enough magnesium through food sources to maintain optimal levels. In a small study of 100 adults, the subjects who took 320 mg of magnesium citrate each night reported a 37% improvement in sleep quality (based on self-reported feedback), compared to the placebo group.
To learn more about Cooper Complete® Melatonin and the entire Cooper Complete® supplement line, visit www.coopercomplete.com or call 888-393-2221.