Did you know that fatigue is the second most common cause for a primary care medical visit, second only to pain? NIH estimates that one of five Americans claim to suffer from fatigue severely enough to interfere with their daily lives.
From 2008-2012, sales of energy drinks grew 60% to $12.5 billion. This doesn’t include coffee and caffeinated sodas. Unfortunately all these caffeinated beverages don’t give people the energy they seek. Caffeine stimulates energy discharge, but doesn’t increase energy production or storage.
Eating whole foods is a great way to promote energy, as is getting a good night’s sleep. Most Americans don’t get enough sleep. In 1963, Americans received 8.5 hours of sleep per night. By 2002, the average American only received 5.9 hours of sleep per night Sunday through Thursday, and 8 hours per night on the weekends. Although people’s sleeping requirements vary, for most people this is not enough sleep to maintain optimum energy levels and good health. We also feel stress more when we are sleep deprived. Little things that we would scarcely notice can easily be blown out of proportion when we are sleep deprived.
Here are some tips to promote better quality sleep that I have incorporated in the last year. The overall motion is to get a routine of relaxation to promote a good night’s sleep starting a couple of hours before bed time.
- Exercise during the day helps, but not just before bed as it raises your heart rate.
- Caffeine after 2:00 pm should be avoided if you’re sensitive to it.
- Have curtains or blinds in your room if you suffer from insomnia. The fuller moon keeps some people awake and others awake with the sun, which is mighty early during the summer months.
- Don’t eat a heavy dinner or too late so you can sleep better
- Don’t drink too much alcohol with dinner. While it will relax you: too much and you’ll be awake a few hours after you fall asleep.
- Turn the PC off by a certain hour every night
- Go to bed at around the same time every night, not too late
- Take a hot bath or shower to relax before bed
- Blue light emitted by cell phones and laptops should be avoided before bed. If you must, here is more detail about the effects of blue light and ways to lessen it
- Ideally just don’t bring the PC, iPhone or tablet to bed and read email or Facebook
- Read a paper book to relax
- Listen to soft music or meditate
- Write about your day, especially the things that went well that you are grateful for
- As you fall asleep think about the things that went well for you during the day. Think about your loved ones, and how grateful you are for friends and family
Resources for further reading on sleep.
- Enjoy Arianna Huffington’s discussion around thriving, her story about turning around her life and health by getting more sleep and so much more
- Ask An Expert: All About Getting Better Sleep, a discussion on Lifehacker
- No More Sleepless Nights a book by Peter Hauri and Shirley Linde
- Say Goodnight to Insomnia a book by Gregg D Jacobs
- The Effortless Sleep Method a book by Sasha Stephens