Per­chance to Dream

10 strate­gies for a good night’s sleep

ZOOMER Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Jayne MacAu­lay

ALOT GOES ON BE­HIND closed eyes dur­ing sleep, even though many in our 24-7 so­ci­ety think it a time waster. As Shake­speare’s Mac­beth pointed out, sleep “knits up the rav­ell’d sleeve of care,” restor­ing en­ergy and tis­sues, en­abling learn­ing and cre­ativ­ity, man­ag­ing mem­ory and fight­ing in­fec­tions. Cheat on it, and it’s hard to re­mem­ber, prob­lem-solve and ab­sorb in­for­ma­tion to cache on the brain’s hard drive. And there are health risks.

Sleep­ing less than seven hours per night on a reg­u­lar ba­sis is as­so­ci­ated with weight gain and obe­sity, diabetes, hyper­ten­sion, heart dis­ease and stroke, de­pres­sion, and in­creased risk of death. It’s also as­so­ci­ated with im­paired im­mune func­tion – a flu shot may be less ef­fec­tive if the re­cip­i­ent is sleep-de­prived.

Mak­ing sleep a top pri­or­ity could be the best pre­ven­tive medicine for your brain. Sci­en­tists at the Washington Univer­sity School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., study­ing mice have linked dis­rupted sleep and the de­vel­op­ment of Alzheimer’s dis­ease. They sus­pect orexin, a pro­tein that pro­vokes the brain to wake, in­creases amy­loid plaque, which is found in those with the dis­ease.

And sleep, it seems, is the brain’s Molly Maid. Sci­en­tists at the Univer­sity of Rochester Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Rochester, N.Y., com­pared the brains of awake and sleep­ing mice and re­al­ized that cer­tain brain cells con­tract dur­ing sleep, leav­ing spa­ces around ar­ter­ies. Cere­bral spinal fluid washes through these chan­nels, flush­ing out harm­ful tox­ins that build up dur­ing wak­ing hours, such as beta-amy­loid that’s as­so­ci­ated with Alzheimer’s dis­ease. (A re­cent study in the Jour­nal of Neu­ro­science noted that sleep­ing on the side or back does this most ef­fi­ciently.) Lack of qual­ity sleep re­duces the ef­fi­ciency of this waster­e­mov­ing “glym­phatic sys­tem.” It’s thought ac­cu­mu­lated waste prod­ucts block and en­large the chan- nels around blood ves­sels in the brain. In fact, cog­ni­tive re­searchers at Toronto’s Sun­ny­brook Health Sciences Cen­tre noted brain imag­ing find­ings sug­ges­tive of en­large­ment of these chan­nels in stroke pa­tients who had poor qual­ity sleep. Dr. Mark Bou­los, a neu­rol­o­gist and lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor for the Sun­ny­brook study, sug­gests peo­ple who blame un­sat­is­fac­tory sleep on age or health con­di­tions should see their doc­tor to pin­point and clar­ify the ac­tual cause.

Let there be light … in the morn­ing

A dose of morn­ing day­light wakes up the brain but also makes for deeper sleep at night be­cause light in­flu­ences an in­ner timer, our cir­ca­dian clock, that links body sys­tems with the earth’s light-and-dark cy­cle. Older adults may have trou­ble falling asleep be­cause they pro­duce less mela­tonin, a sleep-in­duc­ing hor­mone. Others may be af­fected by ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing – es­pe­cially bluerich light emit­ted by most LEDs,

TVs, cell­phones and other elec­tronic gad­gets – which de­lays the timer’s nightly cue to se­crete mela­tonin. Try glasses with am­ber-tinted lenses, known to block blue light.

Make for the mela­tonin

Set your­self up for sleep with a glass of tart cherry juice each morn­ing and night. Re­searchers at Louisiana State Univer­sity found tart cher­ries, also avail­able as dried fruit, con­tain mela­tonin and an­tiox­i­dants and in­creased hours of sleep for older peo­ple.

Tak­ing mela­tonin slightly be­fore bed­time en­cour­ages sleep. Jamieson Mela­tonin 10 mg Dual Ac­tion re­leases slowly over time; a more di­rect method is Mor­phélin: spritzed un­der the tongue, it de­liv­ers one mg of mela­tonin sub­lin­gually. (Be sure to ask your physi­cian if mela­tonin sup­ple­men­ta­tion is right for you and your med­i­ca­tions.)

Need some nat­u­ral en­cour­age­ment? Dream Wa­ter com­bines mela­tonin with lesser known gam­maaminobu­tyric acid (GABA) and 5-hy­drox­ytryp­to­phan (5-HTP); the for­mer helps you re­lax and re­duce anx­i­ety while the lat­ter stim­u­lates your own mela­tonin pro­duc­tion for a rest­ful sleep. And, at 74 ml, the tonic is also travel-friendly. www.dreamwa­ter­canada.ca

Set your body’s op­ti­mal sleep tem­per­a­ture

It may be an evo­lu­tion­ary en­ergy-sav­ing ploy, but the body nat­u­rally cools its core tem­per­a­ture slightly to pre­pare for sleep. In the Nether­lands, re­searchers found their el­derly sub­jects, while sleep­ing in a cool room, in­creased the most restora­tive phase of sleep and slept longer when the tem­per­a­ture of their skin was lower than their core tem­per­a­ture. For the best sleep, stud­ies have shown the magic room tem­per­a­ture for most to be just above 18 C. Also, in­ves­ti­ga­tors sug­gest a warm shower or a warm drink be­fore bed as both prompt the body’s cool-down re­sponse. And stick­ing a foot out from un­der the cov­ers helps to keep you cool – as long as its blood ves­sels di­late ad­e­quately, some­thing reg­u­lar ex­er­cise im­proves.

Try tech

De­vices such as the Re-Timer (above) help re­set out-of-sync sleep times caused by jet lag or shift work. The glasses-like gad­get emits a green­blue light that de­lays the pro­duc­tion of mela­tonin. Used in the evening, it post­pones falling asleep; morn­ing use brings evening sleep on ear­lier.

Set the mood, through­out the day with new Philips SceneSwitch LED light­bulb. The bulb works with an ex­ist­ing switch to cy­cle through three set­tings; switch it on once for bright morn­ing light, twice for nat­u­ral light – great for tasks like read­ing, and flip it a third time for warm glow – per­fect for trig­ger­ing the evening wind down.

Re­think­ing sleep­ing pills

Dr. Cara Tan­nen­baum, a geri­a­tri­cian at the Univer­sity of Mon­treal, notes women use sleep­ing pills more than men and due to their smaller size and slower elim­i­na­tion of the in­gre­di­ents from their body, women are more sus­cep­ti­ble to the side ef­fects of the pills; drowsi­ness, im­paired alert­ness and au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dents. The Amer­i­can Geri­atrics So­ci­ety rec­om­mends se­niors avoid sleep­ing pills and thus mem­ory dif­fi­cul­ties, car ac­ci­dents and falls.

Skip the night­cap

A cock­tail may bring on sleep, but the deep sleep phase that fol­lows may be dis­rupted by com­pet­ing brain wave pat­terns sim­i­lar to those of chronic pain pa­tients. Kick the noc­tur­nal cock­tail habit.

Flip the mat­tress

Morn­ing stiff­ness or pain may mean your mat­tress has reached its best-

be­fore date. Take a test drive first: try a Cana­dian-made Endy mem­ory foam mat­tress for 100 days ( www. endysleep.com) – or Ikea, which of­fers a 90-day ex­change pol­icy on its se­lec­tion of mat­tresses ( www.ikea.ca). Peo­ple with a fid­gety part­ner may want to try a foam or la­tex model for their move­ment ab­sorp­tion qual­i­ties – they also spread body weight evenly for bet­ter blood cir­cu­la­tion. And for those who run hot, look for tra­di­tional spring styles – Ikea car­ries theirs in firm or medium firm – that are made with open-spring con­struc­tion for im­proved air cir­cu­la­tion.

Try a new work­out

Sci­en­tists at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los An­ge­les, re­ported find­ing that tai chi in par­tic­u­lar helped older adults with mod­er­ate sleep prob­lems, pos­si­bly keep­ing them from de­vel­op­ing full-blown in- som­nia. Tai chi also has a slew of other out­comes that ben­e­fit older peo­ple, in­clud­ing bet­ter bal­ance, mood and flex­i­bil­ity as well as greater lower­body strength and stress re­duc­tion.

Dress for the oc­ca­sion

Are night sweats damp­en­ing your spir­its? Cal­gary-based com­pany Lu­somé makes a line of stylish sleep­wear (be­low), made from nat­u­rally blended fab­rics, to help man­age night­time hot flashes. And men can suf­fer from night sweats, too. Po­ten­tial causes in­clude anx­i­ety, unchecked in­flam­ma­tion and med­i­ca­tion use. So if that’s the case, check out their new men’s T-shirt col­lec­tion. www.lu­some.com

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