According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends adults get 7 hours of sleep each night, 1 in 3 American adults doesn’t get enough sleep. Ken Redcross, MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician, joined us to share how to get the best quality sleep possible. He offered up his quality over quantity prescription “cheat sheet” when comes to attaining a better night’s sleep:
- Sleep Cheat No. 1: Cut the Cocktails, Coke, Cigarettes and Coffee. One study tackled all of these topics at once and found that alcohol can be relaxing to help you get to sleep but damaging to the sleep cycle resulting in a restless night. Caffeine lengthens the second phase of the sleep cycle (the cycle where your brain starts processing the day) – OK for naps but not for deep sleep – and shortens cycles three and four where REM sleep and dreaming occur. Cigarettes, which cause a host of health issues, can also keep you awake and could prevent the onset of sleep entirely. Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes at least two hours before bedtime.
- Sleep Cheat No. 2: Backup Immune System with Boosters. Studies validate that getting a full night’s sleep reboots your immune system, which can protect you against colds and flu, viruses and ultimately diseases. Studies show that even just one sleepless night can negatively affect the adaptive immune system. If you can’t achieve the optimum 8 hours of sleep each night for the immune system, immune boosting supplements can give you the backup you need. AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound) is an effective, medicinal mushroom immune booster backed by more than 20 human clinical studies at some of the most credible research institutions worldwide, including MD Anderson, Yale and Harvard. Studies show AHCC strengthens the immune system significantly, helping protect your body against potential health threats, which is especially critical if you are not getting enough sleep (www.ahccresearch.org).
- Sleep Cheat No. 3: Eat Before You Sleep. Certain foods can naturally help you achieve better quality sleep. For a sleepy-time snack before bed try almonds: rich in magnesium, a mineral needed for quality sleep; walnuts: a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid, and also contain its own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster; tart cherries: boost levels of sleep-triggering melatonin; chamomile tea: increases glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles acting as a mild sedative. Also, take omega-3 supplements at night with your bedtime snack so you don’t burn them off during the day and get your levels checked. Low levels of DHA omega-3 have been linked to lower levels of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep.
- Sleep Cheat No. 4: Invest in Better Bedding. On average, most people will spend 24 years of their lives asleep, so investing in a good mattress, pillows and sheets are a must in order to achieve quality sleep. Studies show new bedding systems increase sleep quality and reduced back discomfort, both of which may be related to reduction of stress-related symptoms.