Rant: 7 ways to Get Better Sleep

Car alarms, a snoring mate, racing thoughts all can keep us awake.  But usually insomnia is the SYMPTOM, NOT THE PROBLEM.  Treat the problem, not the symptom, right!?! Good “sleep hygiene’ (which is what we call it in the medical biz) goes a little something like this:

1) chill-out on the caffeine—if you drink more than one coffee a day, especially late in the day or after dinner, does it surprise you that you can’t fall asleep?   Same goes for diet-coke (which unless you want to feed your body chemicalized acid, you shouldn’t be drinking any way, Missy!) and chocolate too, can keep the peepers from moving to the ‘off’ position.

2)no napping during the day—if you are napping during the day then A) you’re not getting enough sleep B)you are having a sugar crash C) you are jet lagged d) you’ve been drugged; I don’t care which of these applies, no napping! Push through and get a GREAT night’s sleep!  And try to go to bed the same time and get up the same time each day (for a total of 8 hours, or course)!

3) de-stress—racing thoughts is the most common reason I hear for inability to fall asleep; there’s a reason you can sleep, you are too rev-ed up!  Yoga and meditation prevent medication! Find a way to squash the thoughts, whether it’s taking on less, or spending a hour during the day to organize  or address whatever’s plaguing you! Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, which brings us to…

4)Exercise! DAILY! You don’t have to do 100 yard sprints for a hour every day, but move every day that ends in “y”; this improves your sleep; just try to do it 3 hours prior to zzzzz-time because it can wake you up/over-stimulate you

5) don’t have another—alcohol fouls-up your sleep, not just because you have to get up to pee all night, but it actually disturbs sleep architecture.  That and dehydration is why you don’t feel so hot post boozing!

6) limit screen time before bed—the TV and computer, and yes, even iphones can trick the ole’ rods and cones into thinking it’s day time, so try to something other than the screen trance prior to bed

7) only sleep and, ahem, ‘couple’ in bed. No eating, TV watching or other daily activities. The bed is the sacred sleeping and, ahem, shaggin ground. ya’ hear me?

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Madeleine Vanstory attended Duke University and began her post-graduate journey at The Elaine Clark Center working with special needs children. She went on to work as a Clinical Research Scientist running clinical trials for the CDC and developing medical devices for Welsh Allen, Abbot Labs, Roche and Johnson & Jonhson Her work included non-invansive cervical cancer detection, continuous diabetic glucose monitoring, non-harmful infant bilirubin level detection and studying Vitamin C's anti-aging effects on the skin. Madeleine attended Medical school at The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and completed a residency in Family Medicine at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro NC. Dr. Madeleine Vanstory is a board certified Family Physician who has practiced all over the world. She has lead medical missions in Kenya and Honduras. She has participated with Operation Smile in Russia, she has patients in North Carolina, Maine, Oregon and New Zealand. Dr. Vanstory has worked the medical tents in the Marine Corps marathon in Washington DC and at the Kona Ironman World Championships. And Dr. Vanstory has marched with the Surgeon General promoting "Exercise is Medicine" at the World Congress Sports Medicine Conference. Disillusioned by the current health care system and armed with the realization that culture, nutrition and emotional well-being have a profound impact on health, Dr. Vanstory now motivates clients and patients to discover the healthiest versions of themselves through humor, counseling in her "Upgrade Your Health" Wellness Program.

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