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How to Identify Your Sleep Robbers and Improve Sleep Habits
Equestrian 101:

Equestrian 101:



How to Identify Your Sleep Robbers and Improve Sleep Habits

Many of us go through the day, sometimes for weeks at a time, being tired and worn out. We awake in the morning feeling exhausted and beat - and the day has barely begun. So we drag around feeling irritable and grumpy.

Resolve to catch up on your zzz's in 2010; decide to develop sleep habits for better mood and, most of all, your good health!

Start on the road to improved sleep habits by determining what exactly is robbing you of adequate siesta time. Are you a night owl? Do you eat too late? Are you overstimulated when you should be winding down? Did you watch a scary movie? Do you have a retail job that leaves you "fired up"? Have you developed insomnia due to worries? Are you angry about something or someone?

Jot down your sleep robbers - anything that comes to mind. Better sleep habits start with determining your bedtime routines. Once you identify precise sleep deprivation habits, you can resolve specific issues.

Here are some of the obvious culprits that interfere with proper rest and remedies:

1. Cut out caffeine starting early afternoon. Obviously, an after-dinner cup of java can keep you "wired"; however, it has been proven that caffeine (tea, coke, coffee, etc.) in your bloodstream can interfere with the neurotransmitter adenosine that encourages sleepiness. You should have five hours or more to remove all traces of caffeine from your system to encourage drowsiness.

2. Rid your mind of angry thoughts and feelings. This is super advice for all of us at any time of day but it is especially important when you want to get a good night's sleep. You do not want to be tense or upset at bedtime. Worries, anger and guilt are generally some of the major sleep robbers; developing stress busters by imaging yourself into a calmer state is one proven remedy.

3. Try deep breathing to develop a calmer state of mind. A deep breathing routine before bedtime will go a long way to ease stress and overabundant adrenaline. Teach yourself relaxation routines and take in life-giving oxygen by simple deep breathing. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, relax your facial muscles. With your mouth relaxed and closed, inhale deeply through your nose while counting to 4. Hold your breath and count to 6 or 7. Exhale very slowly to a count of 7 or 8. Repeat this deep breathing 10 repetitions as you visualize yourself calm, cool, collected and headed into your cozy, restful, comfy bed.

4. Don't underestimate the value of exercise to encourage improved sleep. Moderate muscle and lung stimulation resulting from exercise goes a long way to better health and sleep. It is a known fact, based on studies conducted at Stanford University, that exercise aids deeper and longer sleep. Try brisk walking several times a week; get out the bike and go for an easy ride; work out on the tread mill; exercise to your favorite aerobic video or TV fitness show; or simply put on your favorite upbeat music and dance (like no one is watching!).

5. Avoid watching the news before you head to bed. So, flip on the TV and watch something silly, funny or stupid. The idea is to avoid stimulating or worrisome thoughts. Slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure by enjoying a good laugh. Much has been said about health boosters from laughter - your guffaws will open blood vessels, help your circulatory system and stimulate blood flow to your extremities. Actually, hearty laughter is an easy way to exercise your diaphragm, lungs and even abdominal muscles, and while it doesn't take the place of a good workout, laughing stimulates brain and circulation among other benefits.

6. Eat dinner earlier in the evening to promote an efficient digestion process. Avoid stomach upset, heartburn or digestive stimulation by moving food through your system prior to attempting a sound sleep. Of course, an additional benefit is your body's ability to work off some of the meal's calories prior to sleep.

7. Encourage a boost of serotonin naturally by eating a bite (no more than 1 ounce!) of cheese about 45 minutes prior to your nighttime routines. Cheese (and warm milk) contains tryptophan which helps your body produce hormonal serotonin.

8. Modify your bedroom temperature to about 62 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Snuggle into your cozy bed under a cushy comforter or blanket. A cool room encourages faster onset of sound sleep.

Sleep more, sleep soundly and sleep peacefully! Restorative zzz's are incredibly important to maintain good health and well-being. Without adequate rest, you are generally fatigued and worn out - sleep will go a long way to more energy and better mood. Try it; you'll like it!

This article is written by The Old Gray Mare on DressYourHorse.com and FantasyKritters.com.