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Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

Today we are reminded of the importance of a healthy immune system.  Our body’s ability to fight infection and disease depends on our immune system.  Good nutrition is important to support a healthy immune system.  Eat well by choosing nutrient rich foods, such as the following to boost your immune system:

  • Choose more orange and brightly colored foods. like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mango, tomatoes, and broccoli. These foods contain the antioxidant Beta Carotene which has been shown to strengthen the body’s infection fighting methods.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C including citrus, red peppers, kiwi, broccoli, berries and tomatoes. Start the day with a grapefruit, add sliced peppers to a sandwich at lunch and enjoy a cup of berries for a snack.
  • Herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. These herbs and spices contain ingredients that help fight off viruses and harmful bacteria and give your immune system a boost. Try garlic hummus or raw ginger tea, or add oregano and rosemary to salads, roasted vegetables, and tuna salad to increase your intake of herbs and spices.
  • Get your Vitamin D. Found in fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified milk and fortified orange juice. Vitamin D is essential for optimal immune function and has been shown to help address respiratory infections. Add mushrooms to salads, stir fry’s and soups to increase your Vitamin D intake.
  • Zinc is key to optimal immune function but intake tends to be lower in those who are older, vegetarians, vegans and those who take antacids. Foods containing zinc such asmeat, seafood, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Probiotics  is good bacteria that promotes health.  It is found in cultured dairy products like yogurt and in fermented foods such as kimchi.
  • Protein from both animal and plant-based sources including, milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.

In addition to increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods, you can protect your immune system by:

  • Minimize your intake of sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. Consumption of these foods may suppressthe immune system.
  • Practicing good hygiene and hand washing to help prevent the spread of germs. Remember to wash produce before eating or using in recipes. Clean glasses, dishes, forks, spoons, and knives to reduce the spread and growth of bacteria.
  • Manage stress. Physical activity, meditation, listening to music and writing are great ways to manage stress and help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases that could weaken your immune system.
  • Getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep contributes to a variety of health concerns including a weakened immune system. Seven to nine hours is recommended each day for adults and children need eight to fourteen hours depending on their age.

Take charge today of your health and add these tips daily to support a healthy immune system!

Written by:  Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County. stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County. lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2020). Support your health with nutrition. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/support-your-health-with-nutrition

WebMD (2019). How can my diet affect my immune system? https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/qa/how-can-my-diet-affect-my-immune-system

WebMD (2019). Super Foods for Optimal Health. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/antioxidants-your-immune-system-super-foods-optimal-health

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A few weeks ago, I ran into a colleague and asked, “Hello, how are you?” My colleague enthusiastically responded, “I’m great!”

This response caught me off guard. It was not what I expected. I was used to hearing tired and busy. To be honest that was the response I was used to replying with as well.

Have you noticed how tired and busy are becoming a common response when asked how are you doing? I understand it. Those two words rule my routines some days. How can we move past tired and busy?

It’s possible that a medical condition may be contributing to your tired. Allergies, depression, sleep apnea, low iron, thyroid issues and more can increase fatigue. If a possible health condition is causing your fatigue, extra sleep or exercise may not be the answer. A conversation with your family doctor can rule this out and help you make the changes you need personally.

Looking at your sleep health and hygiene may help reduce your tired. According to Harvard University, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Nearly 50% of Americans get less than the recommended amount. When sleep is reduced or cut short our bodies don’t have time to complete what is needed and the result is that we wake up unprepared for the day.

Coffee, sodas, and energy drinks are often the first line of defense to combat tired, but these common solutions may be contributing to feeling tired. Caffeine is a stimulant but can have an opposite effect. Studies show that while some energy drinks may increase alertness for several hours, participants were often more tired the following day. Too much caffeine can contribute to insomnia or make it difficult to fall asleep. Caffeine is also known to increase anxiety, nervousness, stress levels, and jitteriness. Studies have shown that it is safe for most people when consumed in low to moderate amounts.

Can the way we look at things contribute to our “tired and busy”? I think so! For example,

instead of looking at a long to-do list as something you HAVE to do consider the perspective that you GET to. Look carefully at your list. What are you busy with? Sincerely, the answer to “busy” may be doing less. It is hard to slow down when there are a million things to accomplish. A long critical look at a calendar and to-do list can be influential in what to keep and what can go. A slowdown may also be the answer in the way you do things. Slowing down could mean being present, and being mindful of whatever you are doing at that moment.

In addition to examining my schedule and lifestyle, I promised myself that I would focus on a positive aspect of my life when responding to the question, “How are you?” 

I probably will be tired or busy every time someone asks me that question, but shifting my focus when responding will help me. Will you join me in responding with something besides tired or busy when asked how you are doing?  

MedlinePlus. (2019, April 30). Caffeine. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/caffeine.html

Phillips, D. T. (2016, April 27). Slow down to get ahead. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/slow-down-to-get-ahead/

Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How much sleep do we really need. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

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depression

Depression is different for everyone.  Managing depression is challenging.  Often going to work, socializing with family and friends, or getting out of bed may feel like a struggle.  Here are some strategies to manage depression and live your best life:

  • Develop a Strong Support Groupsupport system
    • One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to create a strong social support. Stronger ties with family and friends are important.  Join a support group – online or join a group that meets in your area.
  • Reduce Stressstressed
    • When we are stressed, the body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is effective short-term as it helps to cope with what may be causing the stress in your life.   Long-term cortisol may result in elevated cortisol levels, which is linked to depression.  Keeping stress levels low will reduce cortisol levels and reduce your risk of depression.  Use stress-reducing techniques to overcome stress.
  • Improve Sleepsleep
    • Lack of sleep affects our moods. Recent studies find people with major depressive disorders experience sleep disturbances.  Often many find they cannot fall asleep and struggle to get out of bed in the morning.  Take charge of your sleep by avoiding caffeine at night, turning off electronics one hour before going to bed and if you read in bed use a dim light.
  • Eat wellmyplatedep
    • Choose good nutrition and take care of yourself. Improving your diet will be key to reducing your symptoms.   There is a link between essential nutrients that affect depression.  Zinc deficiency has shown in studies to increase symptoms of depression.  Good sources of zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts, dairy, eggs, whole grains and dark chocolate.
  • Stop Procrastinationproc
    • Set goals and deadlines to manage your time well. Establish short-term goals and be diligent to achieve the most important items first.
  • Try Something Newnew
    • A new hobby, exercise or meeting a friend for lunch will have an impact on your symptoms. Read the local newspaper in your area to see what is happening around you and join in the activity.
  • Be Kindbekind
    • Simple kindness is powerful. Hold a door open for someone, let someone cut in front of you in traffic or return the cart to the store are all ways to show kindness.
  • Tackle Your Daily Choreschore
    • Take control of your daily chores. Start small and work on one project.  Moving around and seeing your progress is uplifting.
  • Create a Wellness Toolkittoolbox
    • A wellness toolkit is a set of tools to use when you are feeling blue. Create your toolkit with things you like to do and is inspiring.  Listening to your favorite music, talk a walk with your dog, take a warm bath, read a good book or call a friend are a few ideas.

Take time for yourself daily.  Each day dedicate energy towards your appearance.  There is value to the theory, “when you look good, you feel good.”  Treat yourself well.

This year we are creating a Live Well series.  Join us each month, as we discuss Living Well.

Written by:   Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County. stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County.  lobb.3@osu.edu

Resources:

https://medlineplus.gov/depression.html

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-conditions/depression

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9290-depression

https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/natural-treatments#1

 

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small child staring at a smartphone

As a mom with three little children, I find it easy at times to use my smartphone or tablet to help entertain my children while I am trying to accomplish specific tasks. It is very convenient when we are standing in line somewhere or I need to distract them for a few minutes.  However, I know that I should have screen time limits for my kids. How much is too much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends preschoolers use screens no more than 1 to 2 hours a day. In today’s tech world that includes watching TV, working on a computer, playing video games, or streaming videos, games, apps or websites on smartphones or tablets.

Screen Time Effect

  • Harder to fall asleep at night
  • Raise risk for attention problems, anxiety and depression
  • Raise risk for gaining too much weight

Not all screen time is bad. Good screen time would be playing an interactive educational game together or watching educational programming where you are talking and reflecting with your child on what you are watching.

General Tips

  • Sit with your child during screen time and interact with them
  • Do your research before you allow them to play a game or download an app
  • Have plenty of non-screen time scheduled throughout the day
  • Keep screens out of your child’s bedroom especially at bedtime

Screen time rules will be similar to other parenting rules you might have – set a good example, establish limits, and talk with your child about it.

As your child grows and technology changes you will need to change your approach and rules in regards to screen time, as a one-size-fits-all approach will not work well.

Sources:

Kids Health. (2019). Screen Time Guidelines for Preschoolers. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/screentime-preschool.html

MedlinePlus. (2019, May 17). Screen time and children. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000355.htm

Thompson, D. (2019, January 28). Can Too Much Screen Time Hinder Child Development? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/recharge/features/limiting-tv-preschoolers#1

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

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Over scheduled would be the word I try to avoid every fall. With school, starting sports and activities usually, resume making school nights hectic. There are so many great opportunities and it is easy to overbook children with sports and extracurricular activities. Some years we really miss the mark, other years we do better at prioritizing activities and schoolwork.

Like adults, children also need downtime to be at their best. If we want our children to do, their best in school we want to set them up for success in the evenings. Parents need to give children adequate time to complete schoolwork and prepare for the next day. Providing this time in the evening can be tough with multiple children, homework, and activities. Try a few of these suggestions to help with over scheduled school nights:

Child working on homework

1. Make eating dinner a priority. There are many benefits to regular family meals. These include higher self-esteem, better academic performance, lower substance abuse and lower rates of obesity. Sitting together for meals can help increase family unity. Planning a family dinner in the schedule on school nights can help family members slow down, regroup and unwind from the day.

2.     Help children with homework. This can help children do well in school but also this time is beneficial to parents making sure their students are staying up with classwork, and getting adequate time to complete their assignments.

3. The start of each school year is a good time to evaluate the academic, social, physical and emotional needs of each child when it comes to extra activities. Keep in mind that children are unique and their needs will be different. Some children can handle their schoolwork and extracurricular activities without difficulty. Other children may benefit from more time for homework and fewer activities.  

4.     Have an evening routine. Routines are beneficial for keeping families organized. An evening routine could include family dinner, homework time, chores, time for activities and bedtime. Children need different amounts of sleep depending on their age.  Children who do not get enough sleep can struggle academically, and be tired or cranky at school.   

Carefully selecting the right balance of extracurricular activities can be difficult. Parents providing support can be beneficial to children as they try to balance academics, friends, sports and other activities. In the end, academics will be important to your child’s success. Choosing academics over one more activity, or working on a slower evening routine may exactly what a child needs to feel prepared for their next day of school.  

Written by: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County.

Reviewed by: Lorrissa Dunfee, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County.

Sources:

“Benefits of Family Dinners.” The Family Dinner Project, https://thefamilydinnerproject.org/about-us/benefits-of-family-dinners/.

College-Homework-Help.org. “Should Parents Help with Homework to Let Their Kids Succeed at School.” Should Parents Help with Homework to Let Their Kids Succeed at School, https://college-homework-help.org/blog/should-parents-help-with-homework.

“Routines for a New School Year.” Live Healthy Live Well, 13 Feb. 2019, https://livehealthyosu.com/2018/08/06/routines-for-a-new-school-year/.

“Signs Your Child Isn’t Sleeping Enough.” Sleep.org, https://www.sleep.org/articles/signs-your-child-isnt-sleeping-enough/.

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Does that question cause you some anxiety? Even thinking about it may feel impossible!
Our phones are used for so much these days; banking, shopping, entertainment, keeping in touch, navigating and more. Even my kids share ways their teachers incorporate their phones into their school day with quizzes and classroom research. 

cell phone

As our use of our phones has grown, so has the research suggesting that our phones can impact our health: physically, mentally and emotionally. With this in mind, taking a break from your phone can be a powerful way to improve your health and well-being. The benefits of taking a break from screens are vast and impact many areas of our daily life. Improved mood, better sleep, a healthier work/life balance, being more present in everyday moments and even a more focused driver are all positive benefits from a break. 

Putting down your phone can be easier said than done.  It doesn’t have to be permanently. Just a few small changes in the way phones are used in your daily life can have a big impact. Here are a few to consider:

Remove phones for transitional moments in your day: walking, getting ready in the morning, driving etc.  Instead of allowing your phone to distract you focus on walking from your car into the grocery store.  Be present in the moment. Pay attention to your breathing, what you see, what you smell.

Consider other ways to fill down time: We haven’t always had our phones. What did you do with your downtime before?  Our phones often control or take over our downtime with checking on social media or playing a game.  Think about what you used that downtime for before you started crushing all that candy and try to implement some of those activities or hobbies.  

Put your phone away before bed: The blue light emitted from our phones can impact sleep, making it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep. Our mind needs time to unwind after technology use throughout the day.   Shutting off your phone 30 minutes before bed can help you achieve more restful sleep and help your brain produce the melatonin it needs to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Find opportunities to explore the real world: Get outside, spend some time in nature.  Focus on building real relationships.  Walk over and have a conversation with a neighbor face to face instead of texting.  Call a friend or make plans that don’t include screens or your phone. 

Put your phone away during conversations:  Studies show that people feel less connected to conversation partners, and found their partners less empathically attuned, when a cell phone was present during the conversation. Having a phone present can be a barrier to a deeper or meaningful conversation. These conversations require trust and undivided attention.   Putting your phone away shows your loved ones that you are listening and focused on them. 

Whether as a temporary breather or an opportunity to create enduring change, there is much to be gained from taking a break from your phone. Screen-Free Week is April 29- May 5. Take the online pledge and you’ll receive support and tips for going screen free.
There is no need to go it alone- consider getting close friends, family, and household members to join you in this effort.

 

Resources:

Commercial-Free Childhood. (2019). Rediscover the joys of life away from screens. Retrieved from https://www.screenfree.org/

Gomes, M. (2018, April). Five Reasons to Take a Break from Screens. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_reasons_to_take_a_break_from_screens

The National Sleep Foundation. (2019). Three ways gadgets are keeping you awake. Retrieved from https://www.sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/

Written by: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County

Reviewed by: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County

 

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The Art of Hibernation

 

person in brown cable knife sweater holding white and black puppy

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Winter has arrived, and many animals go into hibernation. Ever wonder why some nights it is easier to fall sleep than others? There are many factors that can influence our sleep patterns. Some are obvious such as, not drinking too much caffeine before going to sleep. Other factors can be less obvious. As the brain develops and ages, our sleeping habits, and patterns may change but are also influenced by many internal and external factors. Newborns sporadically sleep 16-20 hours, and young children sleep more consistently for about 11-12 hours. Teenage natural sleep patterns tend to favor late nights and late mornings. As we age, we generally have shorter periods of deep sleep and sleep less consistently. Whatever your stage of life, here some interesting facts about sleep and some tips to create the ideal situation for your winter hibernation:

  • Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol right before bed. Caffeine counteracts the hormone adenosine which promotes sleep. Caffeine should be consumed 4-6 hours before bed. Alcohol promotes sleep but then acts as a stimulant as it is metabolized,  disrupting sleep. Limit alcohol consumption to 2 or fewer servings (12 oz beer, 6 oz wine, 1.5 oz distilled spirit) and consume at least 3 hours prior to sleep.
  • Choose a dark, quiet, and cool environment, just like a bat would. Artificial light disrupts your sleep cycle. Turn off all TVs, computers, phones, and devices that emit blue light. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or eye masks. For noise problems, use earplugs or play soft, soothing white noise. Ideal room temperature should be around 60-75 degrees F.
  • Find a soothing pre-sleep routine. Activities might be reading a book, meditation, or relaxation activities. Avoid having emotional discussions before bed.
  • Go to sleep when you are tired. Seems like a silly tip, doesn’t it? However, think about all the times we stay up looking at our cell phones when we feel like sleeping. If you can’t sleep after 20 minutes, get up, go to another room, read, watch TV, etc. until you are tired. Watching the clock only makes you more stressed and anxious which stimulates alertness.
  • Take advantage of natural light. Sunlight promotes a healthy sleep-alert cycle. Open your windows in the morning and spend time outdoors during the day.
  • Choose consistent sleep schedules. Try to go to bed and awaken consistently especially between weekdays and weekends. Naps are OK but should be consistent in length, time, and not after 5 pm.
  • Exercise at appropriate times. Exercise can promote sleep but if it occurs too late it acts as a stimulant. Exercise at least 3 hours prior to sleeping.
  • Avoid spicy, greasy food, or food that might promote indigestion right before bedtime. Also, balance fluid intake to avoid dehydration, but also to prevent excess urination during the night.

Happy winter hibernation!

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD, Associate Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, FCS Extension Educator, Miami County

Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard University, Twelve Simple Steps to Promote your Sleep http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips

Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard University, Changes in Sleep with Age http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/variations/changes-in-sleep-with-age

Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard University, External Factors that Affect Sleep http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/how/external-factors

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park

While scanning the paper recently, an obituary caught my eye:

“After 96 years of vigorous living, Ralph passed peacefully. His enthusiasm for life was contagious. He made friends easily wherever he went.  He made a difference in people’s lives, challenging people to do their best in business, sports, in their families and even in their fun.   He mentored many associates both young and old.  Believing in the rights and dignity of all, he organized an open housing committee at the peak of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. His family was the most important part of his life, especially his wife with whom everyday was a party. Their life together was fun. Join us to celebrate his life at the 18th green with a reception to follow in the clubhouse.”

After reading this, I wondered.  Are we living our best life? We all want to live better, more fulfilling and happier lives. Are we taking the time and necessary steps to achieve these goals?

Start today:

  • Be grateful
  • Be kind to others
  • Get enough sleep
  • Spend more time with loved ones
  • Smile more
  • Forgive
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Spread positive energy
  • Get more sleep
  • Get fresh air
  • Volunteer
  • Enjoy a part of everyday

We only get one life. Forget about what other people are doing and focus on your life and your path to happiness.  At the end of the day and at the end of your life, that is all that matters.

I wish I had known Ralph.   He has inspired me to live my best life.  Thank you Ralph.

Written by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/choosing-to-be-happy#1

https://www.franklincovey.com/the-7-habits.html

 

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The last couple of weeks have been spent moving from a home with 20 years accumulation of “stuff” to a new home. While it has been exciting, it has also been exhausting.  I realized a few days ago that I was staying up later than usual to unpack and rearrange items and then not falling asleep when I did go to bed. My mind kept racing thinking about everything I needed – or wanted – to do the next day. The result was a tired, somewhat grumpy version of me!

Eating well and being physically active are two basic activities that we think of when we discuss being healthy.  Something that is often overlooked is the importance that a good night’s sleep plays in our overall health. Research has shown that insufficient sleep increases the risk of disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke and depression. It’s also associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Most of us have heard that all adults need 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night. That generally holds true but it is important to remember that the quality of your sleep is just as, if not more, important than the quantity!  You should feel rested when you wake up in the morning. It is important to listen to your body’s biological clock which is set by the hours of daylight where you live. This should make it easier for you to stay awake during the day and sleep at night.

There will be times that you find it more difficult to fall asleep than others. If you are under stress, experiencing pain from an injury or illness, consuming excess caffeine or alcohol, you may find that falling and staying asleep are difficult. In that case, recognizing the reasons and making some adjustments to your daytime activities should help you sleep more soundly.

Some suggestions for improving your sleep:

  • Create a comfortable, calming sleep environment. This could include room darkening window coverings.
  • Avoid electronic devices in your bedroom – computers, tablets, games, etc. should be shut down before bedtime.
  • Establish a routine that you follow each evening to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Have a consistent bed time – even on the weekends.

There are small changes you can make to your daytime activities that may lead to better sleep.

  • Try to spend some time outdoors every day.
  • Exercise earlier in the day instead of later in the evening.
  • If you nap, limit yourself to 20 minutes or less.
  • Avoid both caffeine and alcohol close to your chosen bed time. Do some experimenting to find the cut off time for you – everyone will be a little different!
  • If you smoke, quit! Nicotine in cigarettes can make sleep more difficult.

If you continue to have sleep problems, it might be wise to visit your doctor to be sure you don’t have a more serious sleep disorder.

While sleep is not a guaranteed cure all for you, it doesn’t hurt anyone to establish sleep habits that help you consistently get a good night’s sleep!

 

WRITTEN BY: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

REVIEWED BY: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/10/cover-sleep.aspx

https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/population/men/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep#the-basics_2

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ask-the-doctor-right-amount-of-sleep

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sleeping

The process of getting healthy doesn’t start in the morning when your feet hit the floor, it actually begins with a good night’s sleep. My favorite health habit is lying in bed sawing off zzz’s, which you must admit is a lot easier (and more fun) than exercise or eating healthy. UNLESS you have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep.  Then you might rank it at the bottom of your efforts to get healthy.

How do you feel after a poor night’s sleep? Do you sleep well most nights? Hard to believe that something you do while unconscious is so important, but sleep is critical to your overall health.

A healthier sleep can be achieved by doing the following:

  • Stick to a schedule by going to bed and waking up the same time, even on the weekends. This helps regulate your body’s circadian clock, which in turn helps you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  • Try a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoiding bright light helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety (which can make it more difficult to fall asleep).
  • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
  • Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Worried about whether it’s OK to exercise during the evening? Studies show that for most people, exercising close to bedtime doesn’t appear to adversely affect sleep quality.
  • Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow. The life expectancy of a mattress is about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Check your pillow and make sure it is free of allergens that might affect your sleeping.
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals in the evening. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep.  If you can, avoid eating a large meal 2-3 hours before bedtime. Instead, try a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you’re still hungry.
  • Slow down before bed. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing some kind of a calming activity, like reading. Avoid things that may disturb your sleep. That means phones, a tablet, computers or a television that emit blue light. Don’t read with backlit devices. Tablets that are backlit are more disruptive than e-readers that don’t have their own light source.

Resources:

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips

https://sleep.org/

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-to-sleep-better.htm

Author: Marie Economos, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Trumbull County, Western Reserve, economos.2@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

 

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