Feel like a zombie on Walking Dead? Join the club. Some 43% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Of those bleary-eyed folks, 60% claim to have trouble nodding off every night. But adequate sleep can help prevent diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes, and keep us from gaining weight. And, listen up guys: Sleep is when we produce the most anabolic hormone, testosterone. Ready to ditch the zombie act? Here, a guy-friendly guide to sleep.
1- Drink up
Believe it or not, your water intake has a major impact on your ability to sleep. Water makes up some 60% of our bodies, keeping cells functioning optimally and in balance. Unfortunately, many of us—some 75%, studies show—are walking around in a state of chronic dehydration. To fill up your tank and avoid midnight trips to the toilet, consider drinking water throughout the day instead of chugging a big glass before bedtime. And don’t forget to mind your alcohol and coffee, which can act as a diuretic and ding your water levels.
2- Create a sleep sanctuary.
Your bedroom should be a haven for only two things—sleep and sex. Adding technology—TV, video games, Internet, email and texting—is likely to keep you from falling asleep and getting quality Z’s. One of the worst offenders is your smartphone, which some 83% of young adults keep bedside, polls show. The bright light-emitting diodes that help us see those little screens in the dark can interfere with melatonin, a hormone that helps control the natural sleep-wake cycle, according to findings by the Mayo Clinic. Not to mention that one little ping can send you down a rabbit hole of email, Twitter, and Facebook. Spend $7 on an old-fashioned alarm clock and declare your bedroom a tech-free zone.
3- Mind your mattress.
We all have personal preferences when it comes to the ideal bed, but a firm mattress and a few buckwheat husk pillows have worked wonders for me. Buckwheat husks conform to the curvature of your neck, and believe me, this makes a major difference in comfort. Another option is a memory foam-like pillow: A good bet is the Ergonomic Pillow from Essentia, which is made from rubber tree sap instead of toxic chemicals. If swinging from shivering to sweating is an issue, try layering blankets made from natural, breathable fibers such as cotton, wool, cashmere, fleece, and chenille. This way you can shed or add warmth as needed.
4- Grab a nap.
I was never a napper until I reached my thirties and realized that I was no longer Superman. I decided to pay more attention to my body and grab a few winks whenever I felt the urge. Though it can’t make up for poor sleep, a 20- to 30-minute snooze can improve your mood, alertness and performance without interfering with nighttime sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
5- Make a mantra.
Consider harnessing the power of suggestion. When I turn in, I’ve found it helpful to lie on my back, take a deep breath and softly tell myself, “I fall asleep easily and I sleep soundly.” Bedtime affirmations are very personal, so choose one that emphasizes whatever resonates with you: If you tend to be anxious, you might say “I am at peace.” If you’re type A, you might try: “It’s okay to completely relax.” Repeat the phrase a few times each night, and over time, you will begin to hear it automatically when your head touches down on the pillow.
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