The secrets of good sleep | Professor Matt Walker

 Restless nights and weary mornings can become more frequent as we get older and our sleep patterns change. In women, it often begins around the time of menopause, when hot flashes and other symptoms awaken them.
Later in life there tends to be a decrease in the number of hours slept. There are also some changes in the way the body regulates circadian rhythms.. This internal clock helps your body respond to changes in light and dark. When it undergoes a shift with age, it can be harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
We all have trouble sleeping from time to time, but when insomnia persists day after day, it can become a real problem. Beyond making us tired and moody, a lack of sleep can have serious effects on our health, increasing our propensity for obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.We all have trouble sleeping from time to time, but when insomnia persists day after day, it can become a real problem. Beyond making us tired and moody, a lack of sleep can have serious effects on our health, increasing our propensity for obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
If you’ve been having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may have turned to sleep medications in search of more restful slumber. However, these drugs can have side effects—including appetite changes, dizziness, drowsiness, abdominal discomfort, dry mouth, headaches, and strange dreams. A study in the British Medical Journal associated several hypnotic sleep aids, including zolpidem (Ambien) and temazepam (Restoril), with a possible increased risk of death (although it couldn’t confirm how much of the risk was related to these drugs).Going for a brisk daily walk won’t just trim you down, it will also keep you up less often at night. Exercise boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin. A study in the journal Sleep found that postmenopausal women who exercised for about three-and-a-half hours a week had an easier time falling asleep than women who exercised less often. Just watch the timing of your workouts. Exercising too close to bedtime can be stimulating. Morning workouts that expose you to bright daylight will help the natural circadian rhythm.Don’t use your bed as an office for answering phone calls and responding to emails. Also avoid watching late-night TV there. The bed needs to be a stimulus for sleeping, not for wakefulness. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex.Television isn’t the only possible distraction in your bedroom. Ambience can affect your sleep quality too. Make sure your bedroom is as comfortable as possible. Ideally you want a quiet, dark, cool environment. All of these things promote sleep onset.When you were a child and your mother read you a story and tucked you into bed every night, this comforting ritual helped lull you to sleep. Even in adulthood, a set of bedtime rituals can have a similar effect. Rituals help signal the body and mind that it’s coming to be time for sleep. Drink a glass of warm milk. Take a bath. Or listen to calming music to unwind before bed.A grumbling stomach can be distracting enough to keep you awake, but so can an overly full belly. Avoid eating a big meal within two to three hours of bedtime. If you’re hungry right before bed, eat a small healthy snack (such as an apple with a slice of cheese or a few whole-wheat crackers) to satisfy you until breakfast.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/8-secrets-to-a-good-nights-sleep

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