Getting Enough Sleep While Traveling

466240817-smallWhen you’re traveling, it’s important that you’re rested enough to enjoy yourself. I If you’re not getting enough sleep, you will feel tired and won’t be able to enjoy the exciting sights and experiences of your trip. Getting a good night’s sleep is always important, but even more so when you’re traveling.

There are plenty of ways to help you sleep well while traveling:

– Try to get as much exposure to natural sunlight as possible when you arrive
– Take B vitamins early on the travel day
– Avoid exercise 2 hours before bed
– Drinking warm milk or cocoa about 2 hours before bed is helpful
– Avoid eating large meals before bed
– Keep lights dim before bed and avoid looking at computer and TV screens
– Use an eye mask or ear plugs to keep out light and noises

Some people find it difficult to sleep in a hotel. Unfamiliar surroundings, noise, a new bed and the local climate can keep you awake as well. Trying to stick to your regular sleep schedule, exercising during the day, and adjusting the settings in your hotel room can help you feel more comfortable and fall asleep easier.

Keep in mind that it is especially important to rest on the way to your destination if it is going to be daytime when you arrive. However, if you will be arriving in the evening or at night, it’s best to stay awake so that you will want to sleep when you get there and easily adjust to the time change.

Going To Bed Angry

177702323-smallWe all know firsthand that sleep affects our mood. After a sleepless night you may be more irritable and vulnerable to stress and once you sleep, your mood often returns to normal. The same can go for the other way around too. We’ve all heard the saying “never go to bed angry”. Now research has shown that going to bed angry can have serious ill effects on your health, aside from insomnia and sleepless nights.

Chronic anger increases your blood pressure and heart rate. It also increases the pressure inside your skull, makes your breathing irregular, decreases insulin activity along with multiple other symptoms which can all affect your sleep and cause you to wake up feeling still tired in the morning.

If you’re angry right before bed, it’s recommended to not go to sleep right away, but to stay awake for a couple hours and relax before falling asleep. Research has shown that going to sleep after experiencing negative emotions appears to reinforce or “preserve” them.

In the study, psychologists showed participants disturbing photos (like scenes from a war-torn country) and found that sleep make the participants’ negative emotional memories stronger.

To help avoid going to bed with these negative feelings fresh, try thinking about something positive that happened during the day, or earlier in the week. This will help relax you and allow you to have a more peaceful sleep so you can feel stress free and more rested in the morning.

Restless Leg Syndrome

178041620-smallRestless leg syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the nervous system that involves throbbing, pulling, creeping or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and causes an uncontrollable and overwhelming urge to move them. These feelings occur when the person is resting, mostly in the evenings and during sleep, and will usually go away when people move their legs.

RLS affects people of all ages, most being middle aged. Many pregnant women experience RLS, but it usually goes away after the baby is born. Most people with this disorder have serious sleep problems and are tired and have trouble paying attention.

RLS can be genetic, which is why it tends to run in families. It can also be related to other medical issues which can include kidney disease, low iron levels, anemia, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

Many people with severe cases of RLS get less than five hours of sleep per night which can cause excessive sleepiness during the daytime and affect your personal and professional life.

There are many home remedies you can make that are designed to help combat this problem.

– Walking around may be the only thing that helps RLS. A midnight stroll through the house may calm your legs enough to keep them still when you go back to bed.
– Coffee, tea, chocolate sodas and even over-the-counter (OTC) medications may contain caffeine. Cutting your consumption of these may help improve your condition.
– A warm bath or massage before bed relaxes muscles and therefore may be helpful.
– Try stretching your calves, hamstrings and gluteal muscles before bed.

If you still have twitching legs after you’ve tried these tips, talk to your doctor about getting a medical evaluation.

Sleeping Positions for Couples

466455253-smallWhether you spoon or sleep back to back can be an indicator of how happy or satisfied you and your partner are in your relationship. Sleeping in a pose that lets you both stay comfortable and also allows body contact helps strengthen your bond. These sleeping positions can help you snuggle up at night, as well as get better sleep all night long.

Spoon Position

This position is great for side sleepers or people with lower back pain and is a basic position for couples to sleep in. Sleeping on your side helps ease pressure on the spine and is great in the winter time because the full body contact helps keep both of you warm.

Hand Holding Position

This position provides minimal touching, but still allows for intimacy by lying on your backs and intertwining your hands next to each other. Hand holding can provide a romantic effect and neither one has to compromise the comfort of sleeping on your back. If you both prefer to sleep on your sides, face each other and hold hands for another twist on sleeping with minimal touching.

Arm Draping Position

If you or your partner exhibit different sleep positions such as you on your back or your partner on their side, consider an arm across the body position. If you’re the side sleeper, face your partner, but roll toward your back slightly to avoid waking them up with an arm that’s still asleep. Back sleepers should keep their arms by their sides, not overhead, to reduce stress on the shoulders.

Sleeping While Pregnant

Expectant parents know that it’ll be harder to get a good night’s sleep after their little one arrives, but who would have guessed that getting enough sleep during pregnancy would be difficult too?

When you’re pregnant, your body goes through a variety of changes and thee changes tend to disrupt your usual slumber. This can be due to the increased size of your abdomen, back pain, heartburn, shortness of breath or insomnia.

If you’ve always been a back or stomach sleeper, you might have trouble getting used to sleeping on your side, which is the most recommended sleeping position for pregnant women. It’s even better to sleep on your left side because it will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.

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If you are having problems with back pain, use the “SOS” (sleep on side) position and try placing a pillow under your abdomen as well.

If you are experiencing heartburn during the night, you may want to try propping your upper body up with pillows.

In late pregnancy you may start to experience shortness of breath. Lying on your side or propping yourself up with pillows can help alleviate this issue.

It is important to avoid sleeping on your back during pregnancy because this can cause problems with backaches, breathing, your digestive system, hemorrhoids, low blood pressure and decrease circulation to your heart and your baby. These are all a result of your abdomen resting on your intestines and major blood vessels.

It’s also important to avoid getting used to sleeping on your stomach. When you are farther along in your pregnancy, your abdomen undergoes physical changes that will make it very difficult to lie no your stomach.

Early in your pregnancy, try getting into the habit of sleeping on your side to avoid major discomfort during the later stages of pregnancy. Shifting positions is a natural part of sleeping that you can’t control so don’t drive yourself crazy worrying that you might roll over onto your back during the night. If you do shift onto your back, the discomfort will most likely wake you up.

Naps and Brain Benefits

475981169-smallNapping can have great benefits for your brain and body, but sometimes after waking up a from a nap, you feel groggy and almost as if you are more tired than you were before taking the nap. When you sleep for too long during a nap, you fall into a stage of sleep that is difficult to get out of.

Sleep experts suggest that taking a 10 to 20 minute power nap can give you a quick burst of alertness and mental clarity when you don’t have much time. This length limits you to the lighter stages of non-rapid eye movement sleep, making it easier to get moving after waking up.

Studies show that sleeping for 30 minutes may cause sleep inertia, a hangover-like groggy feeling that can last for up to 30 minutes after waking up, before the nap’s restorative benefits become apparent.

60 minute long naps are best for improvement in remembering facts, faces and names. Hour long naps include “slow-wave” sleep which is the deepest type. The downside for sleeping this long is some grogginess upon waking up.

A full cycle of sleep is 90 minutes long, which includes the lighter and deeper stages, REM sleep and the dreaming stage. 90 minute long naps can lead to improved emotional and procedural memory and creativity. A nap of this length is typically easier to wake up from as well.

If you plan on taking shorter naps, it helps to sit up slightly as it will allow you to avoid falling into a deeper sleep. If you dream during these power naps, then it could be a sign that you are sleep deprived and need to get more hours of quality sleep each night.

Falling Asleep When You’re Wide Awake

Not being able to fall asleep when you want to is agonizing. In order to get a better night’s sleep, you need to perfect your sleep hygiene. This includes developing a regular sleep schedule, using your bed only for sleep and ditching electronics and caffeine before bedtime. Following these tips may also help you sleep easier:

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Get Out of Bed

Lying awake in bed sends your body the wrong message, saying it’s okay to lie there and not sleep and your mind can get conditioned to that. If you’re unable to sleep for a 15-20 minute stretch, get up and out of the room and try something relaxing like reading or listening to soothing music.

Try Relaxation Techniques

A simple way to unwind is through breathing. Simply note the rising and falling of your breath and focus on parts of your body where you feel the slow inhales and exhales, whether it’s in the lungs, abdomen, or anywhere else.

Ease Anxiety

Sometimes sleeplessness stems from worry. If your mind is consistently in overdrive at night, try scheduling a time during the day to write down what is worrying you and where you stand with it. This helps by putting your worries out in the open instead of keeping them in your racing mind. By systematically documenting your worries during the day, ideally, you’ll be less likely to fixate on them at night.

If your sleeplessness is frequent and impairing your daytime behavior, bring it up with your physician. When people start to feel like they’re worried about their sleep during the day, then it’s time for some guidance from a professional to help you sleep at night.

Tips for Sleeping in a Tent

Most people are used to sleeping indoors in the comfort of their own bed. Camping lets you spend the night in remote places and take a break from the luxurious comforts of home. Next time you’re planning on sleeping outdoors, keep these tips in mind:

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Get the Right Bedding

There are a number of bedding options available for tent camping. Whatever product you do end up choosing, make sure it packs small and inflates comfortably. This keeps you off the hard ground and gives you the freedom to adjust firmness. Pillows can make all the difference when it comes to staying snug in your car or tent, and a makeshift pillow can be made by stuffing extra clothes inside a T-shift.

Manage Noise

While some campers love to the let sounds of nature lull them to sleep, others have trouble sleeping through the chirping of insects throughout the night. If you area  light sleeper, ear plugs are essential when sleeping outdoors. They’re small, cheap and disposable and should be used whenever you plan on sleeping somewhere new.

Control the Temperature

Even in the summer, temperatures can drop to chilly points during the night, especially in higher elevations. Scout your destination’s weather report ahead of time to make sure your sleeping bag is made for the right temperature. If necessary, sleeping bag liners can add up to 25 degrees of warmth.

Keep it Dry

Sleeping in a tent is made much worse if half of your body is in a puddle of water. Don’t risk getting wet by bringing a waterproof tarp when camping. Tarps can also be made into a canopy, used as a layer under your tent to keep water from seeping through the seams, and can even be thrown over the top of your tent for added protection again rain.

Foods That Affect Your Sleep

152024457-small We’ve always heard that you shouldn’t eat after a certain time of the day because it can cause weight gain. Although this was ever proven to be true, the food you eat before you go to bed can have positive or negatives affects on how you sleep that night.

Best Foods before Bed

Cherries – Cherries are one of the few natural foods to contain melatonin, the chemical that helps control our body’s internal clock. One study has found that drinking tart cherry juice resulted in small improvements in sleep duration and quality in adults who suffered from chronic insomnia.

Milk – Dairy foods contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Other foods that are high in tryptophan include nuts, bananas, honey and eggs.

Jasmine Rice – This rice ranks high on the glycemic index, which means the body digests it slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream. A 2007 study showed that eating jasmine rice four hours before bedtime cut the amount of time it took to fall asleep in half.

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Sweet Potato – Sweet potatoes are a sleepers dream. Not only do they provide sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates, but they also contain potassium, a muscle-relaxant. Other good sources of potassium include regular potatoes (bake with the skin on), lima beans and papaya.

Worst Foods before Bed

Bacon Cheeseburger – The fat content of this particular fast food is a sleep killer. Fat stimulates the production of acid in the stomach, which can spill up to your esophagus, causing heartburn.

Wine – Alcohol of any kind is bad for sleep. It metabolizes quickly and causes you to wake up multiple times during the night.

Coffee – Coffee contains caffeine which is a stimulant. Drinking coffee too close to bedtime will keep you up at night.

Dark chocolate – Chocolate contains not only calories, but caffeine as well. A Hershey’s special-dark bar has 20 milligrams of caffeine, about the same as half an ounce of espresso. Chocolate also contains theobromine, another stimulant that can increase heart rate and sleeplessness.

Do you have Insomnia?

With Insomnia days feel longer, you shift in and out of consciousness during the day, and the volume of everything in your life is dialed down. For everybody that has ever suffered from this condition, it not only deprives you a good nights rest but it also puts a strained on relationships, work productivity plummets, and overall morale turns sour.

What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a condition in which a person does not have the ability to fall asleep or can not sleep for an extended period of time. Insomnia can either be a primary disorder or it can also be a secondary symptom that is accompanied by a more larger problem. Insomnia can be either short term or long term. Short term can last from 1 to 3 weeks but long term can last from 4 to 9 weeks and in some cases, it can last for several months.

Types of Insomnia

  • Transient Insomnia – Transient Insomnia are usually the most common type of insomnia. Typically, they last for less than a week. Transient are typically caused by changes in sleeping habits (i.e, New work schedule,ect.,), stress, or depression. People that suffer through Transient Insomnia typically have symptoms of daytime sleepiness, clumsiness, and some memory loss.
  • Acute Insomnia – Acute Insomnia can last just under a month and just like Transient Insomnia, can be caused from a wide arrange of factors. Usually people that suffer under this condition have trouble with their daytime routine more so than whatever it is they do at night. Stress is a very common factor.
  • Chronic Insomnia – Chronic Insomnia is a far more serious problem for some people as it can last well over a month. Chronic Insomnia is usually accompany by another disorder or can be the primary disorder. Chronic Insomnia can lead to sleep deprivation which can in turn effect the cognitive function, delaying healing time from an injured person, and studies done on lab animals have determined that sleep deprivation can also lead to eventual death.

Causes of Insomnia
There can a wide range of factors contributing to insomnia but here some of the most common causes of Insomnia.

  • Life Event – This includes trauma or fear. People that may have reason for concern can keep them up at night. A birth of a new child, Financial concerns, emotional or mental tension can all be the cause of insomnia.
  • Use of Stimulant/Psychoactive Drugs – The use of caffeine or hard drugs such as Cocaine or Methamphetamine can keep one up for days. Ironically, the sudden withdraw from some drugs can also cause insomnia.
  • Mental Disorder – Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder are one of the many disorders that can lead to insomnia if not treated.
  • Physical Exercise Athletes or people that regularly go to the gym can suffer from Insomnia if they work out to close to the hours they usually sleep.
  • Hormone Shift – Menstruation or Menopause might be something to consider if a person is going through insomnia.

Treatment

  • Behavioral Treatment – Behavioral Treatment is vastly preferable over Medication as medication or drugs can be lead to being dependent on sleep and can actually worsen the condition. This includes modifying sleeping habits such as sleeping at a certain time, abstaining from caffeine or other stimulants, and even try to find ways to lead a stress free day.
  • Over-The-Counter Drugs – Melatonin and Benadryl can help in individual cases and can actually solve transient insomnia problems.
  • Medication – Medication such as Benzodiazepines are incredibly powerful sleeping aids but can lead to tolerance or physical dependence so these types of drugs are used with extreme caution.
  • Meditation – Meditation is highly recommended as the effects usually calms the mind and help ease a person into sleep.

Sleep is important as it provides the body with much needed rest and helps a person function through out the day. People that suffer from insomnia should consult a doctor should they feel that insomnia is greatly affecting their lives as it can become a larger, more serious problem.