Sunday Savers: 8 Tips For Better Zzzzzs

February 21st, 2010

I kid you not. My daughter fell asleep in the hamper last week.

It was nap time. I was on the couch downstairs, laptop where God intended it, cheesy love movie on my husband won’t let me watch when he’s home. When the monitor went silent, I assumed that finally she has reclaimed the precious nap (something that she abandoned three weeks ago). Ten minutes later…”Mommy! My leg!” I ran into her room (not sure how my laptop survived the jump off the couch) and found her standing up in the hamper. Huh?

Through my mommy Super Sleuth powers I deduced that my genius daughter had climbed into the hamper, fell asleep and got a leg cramp.

She gets her ability to fall asleep anywhere from her dad–a man who actually fell asleep at a stoplight on his way to work during her first month of life. Me? I don’t sleep. Ever. In fact, much like Meg Ryan in Prelude to a Kiss, I’ve actually been up for 15 years.

And it’s not just me. Whether it’s packed schedules or packed-on pounds, snoring (yours or his), restless leg syndrome or restless mind, according to a 2007 “Sleep in America” poll released by National Sleep Foundation (NSF), women just aren’t sleeping. If you’re a working woman (whether single or married with children) you probably spend the least amount of time in bed — sometimes fewer than six hours a night. Stay-at-moms aren’t much better off, with the survey finding three-quarters of you experiencing insomnia.

Where does that leave me? Married, stay-at-home mom who works? Someone hand me that No-Doze, please.

Seems I’ve made my bed. But I intend to lie in it and sleep, with these eight tips:

  1. Choose evening snacks for a snoozefeast. Anything with tryptophan, the dreamy sleep-promoting substance, will help you catch ZZZs—warm milk, poultry, bananas, oats and honey.
  2. But keep them small. Heavy meals tax the digestive system, making it tough to get sleep, so finish a big meal at least four hours before bedtime.
  3. Cut caffeine after noon. Even a small cup after dinner can cause sleep disturbances. And don’t forget about less obvious caffeine sources, like chocolate, some sodas, tea and decaf coffee.
  4. Drink alcohol in moderation for quality sleep. A few glasses of wine might help you to fall asleep, but it’ll be less restful sleep. It’s quality over quantity in this case. If you’re consuming alcohol after 6 p.m., follow each beverage with a glass a water to dilute the effects.
  5. Use the bed for only sleep (oh, and that other thing). Watching TV, doing work, even reading…anything that isn’t sleep will make your mind associate activity with what should be a peaceful haven. Important side note: sexual activity can promote sleep…so there ya go.
  6. Go to bed and awaken at the same time, even on weekends. This will help regulate your sleep-wake rhythm (known as our brain’s “circadian clock”) and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.
  7. Don’t exercise too closely to bedtime. You might feel exhausted from a good workout session, but high body temperatures can lead to insomnia. Finish your exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  8. Remove the clock from view. Counting the hours will drive you about as nuts as staying up all night will.

If all else fails, just think of this puppy…that should send you to dreamland with a smile on your face.

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