January 15, 2014 5:15 am
"A good night's sleep is controlled by temperature," Mahaffey explained. "Research shows that decreasing core body temperature is essential for falling and remaining asleep."
While the ideal temperature varies from person to person, experts suggest keeping bedroom temperatures no higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Other ways to help regulate body temperature is taking a bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime, sleeping with a hot water bottle at the foot of the bed, and sleeping in comfortable, moisture-wicking sleepwear and temperature regulating bed sheets.
"Light governs sleep patterns," Mahaffey said. "Your body's wiring tells you to get up when there is light and to sleep when it is dark."
When it is dark, the body produces melatonin, a hormone that initiates sleep. This hormone not only promotes good sleep, it also impacts long-term health. When sleep is disrupted by light, it leads to lower melatonin levels, which can increase cancer risks. To reduce insomnia, avoid TV before bed, sleep in a pitch-dark room, install blackout drapes, cover up the clock radio's light, and avoid night-lights.
"What you eat plays a role in how you sleep," Mahaffey said. "Certain foods keep you awake while others promote a better night's sleep."
When consumed late in the evening, grains and sugars make it harder to sleep because they cause blood sugar to rise, which inhibits sleep. Yet, eating a high-protein snack near bedtime can aid in melatonin and serotonin production, helping promote a solid snooze. Additionally, it's wise to avoid alcohol.
"Even though alcohol causes drowsiness, it prevents you from falling into the deeper stages of sleep," Mahaffey explained.
Published with permission from RISMedia.