R&R, Shut-Eye and the Holidays
Before you speed into full-blown holiday mode, where you’re doing lots of running around, take this time to take a break! The Thanksgiving holiday and the long weekend are an ideal opportunity to catch up on some zzz’s and just plain lounge around. Whether it’s watching football on the couch with your feet up, or taking a few extra naps, take a moment to rest.
Did you know that, according to a recent study, most Americans are sleep deprived? Sleep shortage could wreak havoc on your health (and appearance). If you’re one of the sleep-deprived, you’re not alone.
This first-ever national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that only 3 in 10 people felt they had gotten a restful night sleep every night in the previous month. The survey suggests that as many as 70 million Americans have sleep issues. Additionally, sleep difficulties affect more women than men, those with higher degrees of education and more Latinos and blacks than whites.
The benefits of restfulness are plenty.
Another recent study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that getting enough sleep can help you make healthier food choices. The authors of the study by researchers of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School stated in their report that, “sleep duration and sleep quality are contributing factors to increasing chronic disease trends, in that insufficient sleep duration and sleep disruption have been linked to weight gain, diabetes and early mortality in the long term.”
Don’t lose (any more) sleep. There are solutions…
Sleep-therapy spas or spas that feature a sleep health program have been a growing trend in the spa world, as noted by SpaFinder President Susie Ellis in her Top 10 Spa Trends list last year. (Read Susie’s blog.) The program types vary from alternatives like dream analysis and sleep yoga (at Connecticut’s Mayflower Inn & Spa) to physician-run insomnia relief programs (available at Canyon Ranch, Arizona Resort in Tuscon and Canyon Ranch, Massachusetts Resort in Lenox). In addition, programs like the “sleeping room only” sleep-health workshops given at Rancho La Puerta and Red Mountain Resort & Spa spas by Sleep Guru Robert deStephano have been trailblazing programs for showing that spas recognize that sleep is an important pillar of health.
Finally, if you’re looking for some solutions without leaving home, here are some spa remedies and tips posted by our partner Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village in California.
Ten Tips for Sleeping Well
Provided by California Health & Longevity Institute wellness experts including physicians, registered dietitians, exercise physiologists, lifestyle consultants and clinical hypnotherapists.
1. Create a sleep environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. Make sure pillows and mattresses are comfortable and supportive.
2. Try to eat at least two hours before bedtime. If eating early is not an option, a bedtime snack that is high in carbohydrates stimulates serotonin, which aids sleep. Suggested snacks include whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter, banana and honey served with chamomile tea or old-fashioned blueberry oatmeal topped with non-fat vanilla yogurt, almonds and honey.
3. Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. Avoid spicy foods, protein and alcohol two hours before bedtime.
4. Try not to watch television or utilize a laptop computer at least 30 minutes before bedtime or in bed.
5. Establish a bedtime routine such as drinking a cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea, soaking in a warm bath or listening to soothing music.
6. Do not stress if you feel you are not getting enough sleep. Try not to look at the clock in the middle of the night.
7. Refrain from strenuous exercise two hours before bedtime. Try relaxing stretches and yoga.
8. If lying awake for more than 20 minutes, get up and engage in a relaxing activity such as reading.
9. To improve the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythms), establish consistent rest and activity patterns from day to day. Studies also show that regular exposure to bright or outdoor lights, especially in the late afternoon, stabilizes those rhythms, enhancing the quantity and quality of your sleep.
10. Develop a ritual to break the connection between sleep and the day’s stressors. One method is to make a list of any pressing issues, along with a possible plan for dealing with them. Another is to keep a favorite photo nearby that has a calming effect.