Can’t fall asleep? Toss and turn all night? Are you so anxious about not sleeping that you CAN’T sleep? Millions of us battle sleep deprivation.
Most of us occasionally lose sleep, but for others, it’s a serious problem. So serious, that you can create physical and emotional problems and you’re more prone to injury. If you use medication or take a drink to nod off, you’re also risking addiction.
But you should also know that insomnia is NOT really a serious health problem. It’s not a chronic illness – just irritating, because everyone else is sound asleep.
So here are the facts:
Most adults need approx 7 – 8 hrs of sleep each night. But it’s different for each one of us. So how do you know how many hours you need? If you’re not tired the next day, that’s what you need.
The key is to ask yourself why you can’t get to sleep. You may be in physical pain. You may have anxiety about a problem or situation and it’s spinning around in your brain…. Discover the cause and you can then put it behind you.
But, if you have serious medical condition you should always consult a physician.
As we age, our sleep patterns also change. It is not uncommon for elderly people to sleep less at night and take cat-naps during the day. Not everyone needs those 7 – 8 uninterrupted hours. Some need more, some less.
Note that, if you eat late night dinners, chances are you won’t be able to fall asleep on a full stomach. if you’re eating a heavy meal, give yourself at least 2 hrs before going to bed, but it’s best to eat lighter meals, earlier in the evening. If you’re hungry later on, eat a banana and drink chamomile tea. Other bedtime snacks suggestions, low sugar cereal or granola with low fat yogurt. Warm milk and ½ a sandwich – but make sure to keep it light.
And if you can’t sleep, don’t get up and raid the fridge late at night. Rich food, fatty food, spicy food, too much alcohol, caffeine and drinking lots of fluid, will all work against you
Computer games, IM, Facebook etc. can be stimulating activities and will keep your thoughts spinning, – even after your head hits the pillow. It’s more relaxing to read a book or flip through magazines – take a walk, ride a bike – but remember that too much stimulation will prevent you from sleeping.
Take a drink. You’ve heard that before. A nightcap may make you sleepy, but you won’t have a peaceful night. Also, drinking before bed can become habit forming and that’s how many people start on the road to addiction. Beware that alcohol and sleep medication, definitely don’t mix.
Sleep can be affected 10-12 hrs after drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks. So cut down on caffeinated coffee, teas and sodas and of course cigarettes are stimulants. If you smoke before bedtime it won’t be helpful to get you to sleep.
Remedies to help you fall asleep
1) Make a to-do list for the next day then tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow.
2) Write a worry list and tell yourself that there’s nothing you can do now, so go to sleep.
3) Listen to relaxing music before bed
4) If you can’t go to sleep in 15 minutes, get out of bed and do something – not the computer, housework or anything that will stimulate you – reading makes you drowsy.
5) Make sure you’re comfortable in bed.
6) Make sure the room is dark
7) The room should not be too hot nor too cool.
8) Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every night. This sets your natural body clock.
9) Use relaxation techniques: meditation tape, yoga – this will get both your body and mind to relax.
10) If you’re in bed, engage your brain in a non-stimulating exercise ex. counting, visualization, deep breathing
Unless sleep deprivation results from a medical problem, medication should always be used as a last resort. If you are using prescription drugs to get to sleep, have it monitored.
No drug is without side effects. Even over-the-counter medication can cause side-effects ex. rebound insomnia (then you’re worse than you were in the first place) and you can become dependent as well.
The up side is that occasional insomnia is normal. If you keep that in mind, you won’t worry about those bad nights and sleep deprivation won’t develop into an an obsession.
Couple time may be a night out to dinner and a movie or watching TV. What about exercising together? Although the two of you may have very different weight loss goals, working out together will mean helping each other out. There are many benefits when you choose to exercise as a couple. Togetherness time is just the bonus!
Here are some plus points of couple exercise:
- Safety: Accidents can happen during exercise – a trip, a twisted ankle or wrist. Having your soul-mate with you, watching as you workout together is advantageous to both of you. Help is always at hand!
- Common Interest: Apart from the many other things you may enjoy in common you could add exercise to that list! New activities to the already growing common interests can only add to the excitement of your relationship and help keep it fresh! Think about it, you can never have too much in common.
- Encouragement: Getting support with your exercise program is another wonderful thing when you workout with your partner or spouse. You can always count on him or her to encourage you and help you boost your motivation when you just don’t feel like you want to go on. Your spouse will always be honest with you without hurting your feelings.
- A Deeper Bond: When we exercise the brain releases chemicals which stir up feelings of happiness, thus reducing stress and tension. These chemicals also increase arousal and libido. Studies show that partners who enjoy exercising together report having better sexual relations with each other thus deepening their bond.
- Pride: By exercising, you show that you care for your body and want to be able live a healthy life for longer. That in turn means that you so treasure the time you spend with your spouse that you want to be around longer!
- A Sense of Balance: Women tend to prefer cardio workouts whereas men go for strength training. By spending workout time together, it’s a great opportunity to learn from each other. Let your partner share their knowledge with you and you enjoy the new fitness experience.
- Quality time: Mentioned earlier, this is a good time to catch up with each other having been apart during the week due to work and other responsibilities. By choosing a common workout time, you will not have to sacrifice this one-on-one time which is uniquely yours.
Here are some great ideas to get you started:
Sign up for a class together. While a class like salsa dancing is perfect for couples, other classes will work just as well. Consider trying something new that interests you both: martial arts, an indoor climbing clinic, yoga (including Partner Yoga), 5K training, adult swim lessons, or other sports.
Do cardio that allows you both to work at your own intensity level. Group classes like Spinning (indoor cycling) allow each participant to cater the workout to their fitness level, meaning that you both get the workout you want—easy, challenging, or somewhere in the middle.
Do cardio side-by-side. At the gym, simply pick two cardio machines next to each other and work towards your individual goals. You’ll be together but can each work at your own speed, intensity, incline and resistance level.
When walking or jogging outside, try intervals. If you are a slow jogger and your significant other is faster, intervals will be perfect for both of you. Work at one partner’s faster pace for a few minutes, and then recover at the other person’s slower pace. Intervals are also a great way to improve your fitness level and speed over time. Before you know it, you’ll both be able to work at the same pace together.
When strength training at the gym, “work in” (switch places) with one another between sets. About 90 seconds of rest between sets is beneficial anyway. So while you rest, your partner can complete one set of the exercise. Switching the weights to your own level is quick and easy to do on most machines. Another time-saving option is to use dumbbells, so that you don’t have to constantly add and remove weight plates when switching between sets.
Stretch together. Assisted stretching has major benefits for your flexibility. Giving your partner a gentle tug or soft push in one direction can be helpful—just don’t overdo it.
Enjoy the great outdoors. Create a more active lifestyle together by picking up new hobbies. While these may not always count as traditional cardio or strength training, every bit of activity you do will benefit your body and your health. Geocaching, hiking, canoeing, tossing a football, recreational cycling, rafting, camping, and just enjoying a nice, leisurely walk at the end of the day—all of these beat an evening in front of the TV.
Change it up. Try your partner’s exercise ideas just as you want them to try yours. If you have trouble agreeing, compromise. Do your walking routine on one day, and your partner’s upper body strength routine the next, for example. Be open-minded, but keep your partner’s needs (fitness level, goals, comfort level) in mind too.
1. Each Person should avoid becoming the gym teacher from hell. Be gentle. To get started, suggest an easy walk. Go at the pace of whichever of you is slower. Don’t correct the other person’s movement form or technique unless your advice is requested. This will eventually cause solo workouts.
- 2. Make yourselves both beginners. Pick an activity that’s new for both of you. That way nobody feels less competent, and you have the fun of learning together. Be sure it’s something you both think would be fun.
- 3. Make a date. Have a realistic plan for when you’ll exercise. It’s better to plan on being active together for 30 minutes once a week—and follow through on that—than to decide you’ll exercise as a couple five times a week from the start and then fail to achieve that level. Failure can cause one or both of you to give up.
- Instead, build your activity frequency and the duration of each joint session gradually. Fit in 10-minute bouts of exercise on your own (brisk walking is fine) to reach the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity a day on most days of the week.
A Quickie Couple Workout
Here is a sample plan with exercises and stretches that you can do anywhere together, while both getting a workout suited to your level. This circuit-based workout involves quickly transitioning between strength exercises to increase the aerobic quality of the workout. You can both do these exercises simultaneously, without resting in between—talk about a quick workout!
Spend five minutes warming up before your workout and cooling down afterwards. Try walking on the treadmill, outside, or marching in place.
Exercises: Try 8-15 repetitions of each exercise below. Each person should work at their own level, using either the easy, intermediate, or advanced version (each exercise is listed in this order).
Complete the whole circuit up to three times.