Sometimes getting a good night’s sleep is more complicated than turning off the TV and giving up caffeine after 2 p.m. My problems with sleep go back many years. I had sleep apnea and had to use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Basically, you put on a mask connected to the machine it increases the air pressure in your throat so the passageway doesn’t collapse when you’re asleep. Then, two years ago, I had my tonsils removed and I stopped using it. Felt better but never 100%.
Before this sleep challenge, I did a sleep study because I knew with weight loss, working out, eating the right foods, etc. I should feel less tired. I’m happy to report that my sleep apnea is GONE, that I hardly snore at all and I don’t have any episodes where I stop breathing.
I also found out that a medicine I’ve been taking in the morning really should be taken at night because it can cause drowsiness. Now with me taking my medicine at the right time of the day and getting at least 7 hours of sleep, I truly feel like a new person!
If you feel like your sleep issues are more complicated than quick fixes, definitely talk to your doctor. It can make a world of difference.
Have you ever seen an M.D. for sleep troubles? Post a comment and tell me!
As nutritionist for the Avagliano family, I know their days inside and out. They’re incredibly busy and getting everything they need to tackle done in a day can be challenging. But they’ve been working hard this month on getting to bed at a decent hour. Part of slipping between the sheets at a decent hour is the prep work you do to de-stress after a long day. Here, some tips we can all use to decompress before heading to sleep.
- Drink a warm soothing cup of milk or herbal tea and sit around the family room and discuss the day.
- Prepare a light snack such as peanut butter, whole grain bread and skim milk; a slice of cheese and an apple; a cup of warm soup or yogurt with fruit and relax with a fun card game or puzzle.
- Walk around the block or spend time with the kids and your pets.
- Take a bubble bath, light a candle and listen to your favorite music.
- Turn off your phone, computer, and TV. Pop some high fiber popcorn, using whole kernels, and read a novel, magazine or newspaper.
- Prepare lunch for the next day—so you’re all set for a healthy day.
Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.
Tiffany and Peggy have shared not only their struggles to catch more zzzs, but their kids’, as well. If you’re having a hard time getting your kid to hit the hay at a decent hour, check out our story, “4 Solutions to Teen Sleep Problems.” It’s filled with expert tips on getting them to do so, plus important reasons why they need at more than nine hours of sleep a night.
Have you been able to get your teens to stop burning the midnight oil? Share your tactics in the comments below.
You always hear that you shouldn’t eat before bedtime. But if you have trouble getting to sleep, a little snack can help. This is especially true if you’re hungry since an empty stomach can keep you awake.
What foods are best before bed? Small amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods. They’re easy to digest and raise your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that helps calm the brain so you can sleep. Complex carbohydrates, such as:
- a piece of fruit or
- some whole wheat crackers
are best because they are digested slowly. Avoid candy, cookies and other high sugar, simple carbs. These types of foods are quickly digested, releasing a jolt of sugar into your blood that can keep you awake.
Foods with tryptophan, an amino acid, are also a good choice. Tryptophan is used to make serotonin, which can then make melatonin, the hormone that tells your body to go to sleep. Most protein-containing foods have tryptophan but that doesn’t mean you should eat a steak before bed. A small amount of protein is all you need. And it’s best if that protein is combined with a little carbohydrate. Consider:
- Milk. It contains both nutrients, which explains the old “warm milk before bed” advice.
- Half a packet of instant oatmeal
- Some cottage cheese
- A slice of toast with a thin layer of peanut butter.
Whatever food you choose, keep the portion small. Too much of any type of food can interfere with sleep.
Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.
My 10-year-old daughter, Anna, recently has had some issues with sleeping. Before telling more of her story, which is personal, I did get her permission. Our hope is that it will help others with young children who have sleep issues.
Anna has been a great sleeper since we brought her home from the hospital. Always slept contently in her crib and her regular bed. But about six months ago, our neighbor’s home was broken into and thousands of dollars of stuff was taken. Andy and I realized that most break-ins happen in the daytime and didn’t really think a ton about it other than how unfortunate that was for the family. Anna, however, became Ms. Homeland Security of Lehman Land. She would make sure all doors and windows were locked and she always made sure the garage was shut so no one would come and take anything from our garage.
Then she started having nightmares–about someone kidnapping her or coming home from school and finding all of our possessions gone. She would wake in the middle of the night crying and asking to sleep on the floor in our bedroom. So of course we told her yes and we would nightly pray with her that her bad dreams be taken away and give her peace.
Fast forward to a month ago. It was starting to get so bad that she would just sleep on our bedroom floor rather than trying to go to sleep in her own bedroom. We knew this wasn’t healthy for her but we didn’t know how to fix it either. That is, until we met Dr. Robert Oexman. He did a phone interview with us, asking multiple questions about our sleeping patterns, and we told him about Anna. He talked to her like a father talks to his child. He was so nice and caring for her! You could really feel over the landline how he wanted to help her.
So what we did is we would go into her room with her at bedtime per Dr. Oexman’s advice. I have an iPod touch that has some ocean wave sounds and a timer. I’d set the timer for a couple of hours and put the iPod on the docking station. We’d listen to the calming waves, talk about the day, pray, talk about anything she wanted to talk about. After 15 minutes, we left the room and checked on her in 5 minutes. If she was still awake and needed us, then we’d sit in her room with her again for 5 minutes this time not saying much of anything and same thing, leave after 5 minutes and then come back.
Most nights she was out by the 1st 5 minutes. Also in the middle of the night rather than just sleeping on our floor she would have to wake Andy or me up (who ever was on duty that night) and we’d go with her in her room, not talk at all and do the same thing (in her room for 5 minutes, out for 5) until she was back to sleep.
We did have a couple of set backs but really she did very well. She’s sleeping all night in her room alone and in her bed. Her quality of sleep has improved so much, so has ours and we have noticed our bedroom is much bigger now thanks to not having a child laying next to our bed in the morning!
Have you had any problems with your kids taking over your bedroom? Post a comment and tell me!