SLUM­BER SUP­PORT

Good Health Choices - - Be Informed -

Some peo­ple need a lit­tle ex­tra help to tackle their sleep is­sues, but where do you turn for help? Here are a few things to con­sider:

GET­TING HELP

If you are hav­ing on­go­ing trou­ble sleep­ing, per­sis­tent prob­lems with mood, rest­less­ness in bed, se­vere snor­ing or are wak­ing un­re­freshed, try some of the sug­ges­tions below and con­sult your doc­tor, who can re­fer you to a sleep spe­cial­ist or psy­chol­o­gist.

» Sleep spe­cial­ists: A spe­cial­ist will ask ques­tions about your sleep pat­terns and habits and how they af­fect what you do dur­ing the day. For ex­am­ple, if you’re fall­ing asleep when sit­ting in bor­ing meet­ings, it’s less likely to sig­nal a prob­lem than if it’s dur­ing meals.

» Cog­ni­tive be­hav­iour ther­apy (CBT): A sleep psy­chol­o­gist will help you to look at how your be­hav­iours, thoughts and feel­ings af­fect your sleep.

» Sleep study: Stay­ing overnight in a spe­cialised sleep clinic is an ef­fec­tive way to di­ag­nose a sleep dis­or­der. Small metal elec­trodes, wires and other mon­i­tors are placed around your body to mea­sure your breath­ing and oxy­gen lev­els in your blood, your heart rate, leg move­ments, sleep­ing po­si­tion and snor­ing and sleep ap­noea oc­cur­rence. You can also get mon­i­tors de­liv­ered to you so you can trial them at home.

TRACKER TECH­NOL­OGY

Mon­i­tor­ing your sleep pat­terns and find­ing out what’s go­ing on while you sleep sounds like lots of fun, and high-tech wrist­bands like Fit­bits and smart­phone apps that do the job are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar. Some even claim to mea­sure the time you spend in each stage of sleep.

The good: A tracker might help raise aware­ness of sleep is­sues, which could lead you to review your sleep habits to im­prove sleep. For ex­am­ple, if it draws your at­ten­tion to a pat­tern of go­ing to bed late and sleep­ing less than you need to, you’ll be more likely to do some­thing about it.

The bad: The word on the street is not to put too much trust in these de­vices when it comes to ac­cu­rately mon­i­tor­ing your sleep. Re­search sug­gests they pro­vide a gen­eral es­ti­mate of sleep, but can give mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion. Plus, if you have dif­fi­culty sleep­ing, us­ing a tracker could end up cre­at­ing more anx­i­ety around sleep.

Use your sleep tracker to iden­tify ways to im­prove your sleep, such as cre­at­ing a reg­u­lar time to go to bed

SLEEP­ING BEAUTY

When it comes to a beauty rou­tine, sleep is prob­a­bly the most ef­fec­tive tool in your kit. Many of us will be fa­mil­iar with the tell­tale puffy eyes and dark un­der-eye cir­cles af­ter a bad night’s sleep, but there’s more go­ing on than meets the eye. Here’s how to get pret­tier in your sleep.

Nix sag­ging: Skin makes new col­la­gen while you sleep, which pre­vents sag­ging, but we need at least seven hours of shut-eye to do the job well.

Get your glow: Sleep de­pri­va­tion causes a de­crease in blood flow to the skin, your face in­cluded. Not get­ting ad­e­quate sleep means you’re more likely to wake up look­ing rough. Get enough sleep to look re­freshed.

Nip wrin­kles in the bud: Pres­sure on the skin will cause creas­ing and wrin­kling of the skin. The so­lu­tion? Sleep on your back. If you’re a side sleeper, you might even find you have deeper-set wrin­kles on the side you favour for sleep­ing.

Put an end to puffy eyes:

Any­one can suf­fer from puffy eye syn­drome, but you’re more likely to wake up look­ing puffy if you sleep on your stom­ach, as the pres­sure can cause fluid to gather around the eyes. Sleep­ing with an ex­tra pil­low can help keep fluid away from the eye area.

HELP­ING HANDS

On­line pro­grammes: There a num­ber of self-help pro­grammes avail­able on­line for treat­ing in­som­nia, in­clud­ing Slum­berPro, which is in­ex­pen­sive and al­lows you to try be­fore you buy. Find it at sleepther­apy.com.au.

Sleep apps: Special apps and elec­tronic de­vices can help. Try White Noise, which fea­tures am­bi­ent sounds to help you re­lax dur­ing the day and sleep at night.

Nat­u­ral aid: Tart cherry juice is a nat­u­ral source of mela­tonin and the amino acid tryp­to­phan, which has been linked to bet­ter sleep qual­ity.

It’s avail­able from most chemists.

Mag­ne­sium: This is an im­por­tant sleepin­duc­ing min­eral that most of us don’t get enough of in our diet. (Spinach and av­o­cado are good sources.) Add a cup of Ep­som salts in a warm bath or foot bath be­fore bed, or rub a couple of blobs of mag­ne­sium gel − which has a higher mag­ne­sium con­tent than other top­i­cal forms − into the feet.

Mela­tonin: The hor­mone mela­tonin con­trols your sleep-wake cy­cle, and can con­trib­ute to achiev­ing a longer, more rest­ful night’s sleep. Your body clock in­flu­ences how much mela­tonin your brain makes, as does the amount of light you’re ex­posed to each day. Mela­tonin can be sup­ple­mented in tablet form to help you sleep. In New Zealand, a doc­tor’s pre­scrip­tion is needed for mela­tonin tablets.

SNACK YOURSELF TO SLEEP

A healthy diet is a good help in get­ting qual­ity shut-eye, and cer­tain foods have greater sleep-in­duc­ing power, es­pe­cially when you re­place less healthy night­time snack­ing with these op­tions.

Al­monds: These nuts are a rich source of mag­ne­sium, which can help you get a bet­ter night’s sleep.

Ba­nanas: Like al­monds, ba­nanas are high in mag­ne­sium. They also con­tain tryp­to­phan, which has been linked to im­proved sleep qual­ity.

Cheese and crack­ers: Cheese and crack­ers con­tain tryp­to­phan and car­bo­hy­drates, both of which can help you fall asleep sooner.

Hum­mus: The pri­mary in­gre­di­ent in hum­mus is chick­peas, which are loaded with tryp­to­phan, fo­late and vi­ta­min B6. Fo­late has proven es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial for older men and women who need help reg­u­lat­ing their sleep pat­terns, while vi­ta­min B6 can help reg­u­late your in­ter­nal body clock.

Peanut but­ter: Peanut but­ter is loaded with tryp­to­phan. Spread some peanut but­ter on a car­bo­hy­drate-rich slice of toast or some crack­ers be­fore bed.

Wal­nuts: Like cher­ries, wal­nuts con­tain mela­tonin. They also can help reg­u­late stress, which is a lead­ing cause of sleep dif­fi­culty.

A diet rich in tryp­to­phan can im­prove your qual­ity of sleep

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