By Irene Ross
Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is a NYC-based Health Coach. For more information, and to sign up for her newsletter, visit: www.irenefross.com.
Admittedly, when you live in an urban jungle like New York City, it can be difficult to get adequate sleep. We’re constantly assaulted by sirens and other street noises. And there are noisy neighbors—I once had one living above me who vacuumed every single day after 1:00 AM, moving and dragging heavy furniture, throwing and dropping things.
Or maybe you have “monkey brain”—what we wellness professionals use to describe that highly active mind that keeps us tossing and turning all night, while we think and worry about the next day–or week or even month.
And, who among us hasn’t resorted to alarm clock-watching? “Well, if I fall asleep now, I’ll still get 5 hours. “ And so on. Usually until about 5 minutes before you need to get up—then you fall into a sound sleep!
And you feel pretty rotten the next day, right?
We all really need 7.5 hours of sleep at night, and some people require even more—but there’s no such thing as requiring less sleep. As we sleep, cells replenish and recover. Without it, all of our body systems suffer—everything from brain/cognitive function to cardiovascular and from immune to metabolic and hormonal. We become more injury-prone. And, let’s face it: We don’t exactly make good food choices when we’re tired, often reaching for those high-fat and sugary comfort foods, which are diet busters and energy zappers.
Says New York City chiropractor, Rocco Tetro, DC (www.chiroclinix.net): “My patients who suffer from sleep deprivation have a decrease in concentration which then decreases the quality of their work at their jobs. “
Dr.Tetro continues: “They also have a difficulty in maintaining their treatment plan in my office which then increases the time it takes them to recover from a back injury. Since they are constantly tired they tend to slouch more at their desks at work which then contributes to more neck and back problems. They also tend to miss more days at the gym or their regular routine which then makes them feel worse.”
Ok, fine, we need sleep—but how do we keep from tossing and turning? Here are a few very simple tips:
- First, be sure your mattress is comfortable and is supportive; remember, we spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping (or trying to), so the mattress is a vital piece of furniture. And don’t ignore the box spring; a good box spring absorbs shocks and stress—so, even if you can’t see it, it’s doing its job.
- I know this can seem counterintuitive, since I always preach about the need to drink enough water; but don’t do it 2 or 3 hours before bed, or you’ll be up all night running to the bathroom. It’s also the same with exercise; everyone should incorporate some physical activity into their day, but if it’s 2-3 hours before bed, you’ll find yourself alert and energetic—hardly ready for sleep!
- Learn meditation or some other relaxation techniques. There are many yoga studios and meditation centers in NYC that can help you learn. In fact, there’s a meditation workshop coming up at my favorite yoga studio, Sonic Yoga (www.sonicyoga.com). And don’t be discouraged if you find meditating hard at first, because it’s a process. Just think of that scene in the movie “Eat Pray Love” where Julia Roberts tries to meditate, looks at the clock, sees that it’s only been a minute and then says “Kill me now!”
- Incorporate regular little routines to help you get ready for bed: Play soothing music, take a relaxing hot bath; read; take a leisurely walk.
- Don’t use the bed to watch television, eat or other non-sleep or non-sex activities.