The secrets of good sleep

By Ines Morales - 04 Nov 2011 12:46:0 GMT
The secrets of good sleep

Restless sleep via Shutterstock

How many times have you gone to bed only to find out you just can't fall asleep? Or, let's say, how many times have you woken up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason? Sleep problems - even disorders - appear to be in the rise in our modern world, for a variety of reasons.

For instance, health conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). This condition is characterized by irregular breathing, often an inability to breathe at all for short periods of time. Because of this, people with OSAS tend to wake up several times in the same night, and therefore lose much needed sleep. The causes of this illness range from brain injury and physical abnormalities to loss of muscle tone due to substance abuse or a sedentary lifestyle. OSAS has also been linked to obesity.

So far there is no definitive solution for sleep disorders like OSAS, but lately scientists have been testing alternative treatments that combine diet and physical activity. The Mediterranean diet, for example, has been tentatively shown to produce some good results, especially on people whose sleep disorders are a result of obesity. Additionally, the Mediterranean diet also improves people's health in general. Although much more study is needed in this case, one thing seems clear: Do you want to sleep well - or, at least, better? Then do some exercise and watch what you eat.

Sleep problems can also have psychological causes. Emotional distress, for instance. Recent studies indicate that lonely people are more likely to have trouble sleeping than people who don't feel alone. One of these studies targeted college students; another looked at the adults in a close-knit rural community. Both discovered that the more disconnected you are from their community - whether it's for real or just a perception - the more fragmented your sleep will be.

When you put all of these studies together the result is a recipe for getting a good night's sleep. First, find a healthy diet that works for you. Next step is to quit being a couch potato. Finally, work in your social life - which doesn't mean you should sign up for Facebook. It's much more productive to start doing the things you like, find time to relax, and interact with people in the flesh, instead of online. This way you'll be able to do away with all the sleeping pills. You won't need them anymore - unless, of course, you have some serious health condition that can only be resolved with hardcore medication.

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