Thursday, March 6, 2008

CNN: Tips to Get the Sleep You Crave

Here's a recent CNN article highlighting many of the products that we sell at The Complete Sleeper, and how they can help you sleep better. Products include:
Here's the article:

Tips to get the sleep you crave

  • Story Highlights
  • A constant droning sound can help mask sudden noises
  • Drinking warm liquids, breathing soothing scents can help you fall asleep
  • Eye masks can help, but make sure material is soft

Here are some ways to cope with nighttime disruptions and there are no pills required.

If noise is keeping you awake at night

The trouble with noise isn't loudness but suddenness. A cat fight outside the bedroom window or a horn honking out of nowhere jolts you into alertness. But a steady stream of sound, no matter the volume, usually isn't disruptive. And if that steady sound can mask the cats and the cars, it can help you fall asleep and stay that way.

Sounds that constantly drone like a sound machine or air conditioner can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Add white noise: "Background noise is good for two reasons," says David Neubauer, M.D., associate director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center, in Baltimore. "It helps block outside noises, like road-repair workers and your neighbor's stereo. Beyond that, psychologically, it's soothing."

A constant stream of low sound or a variety of recognizable ones - ocean waves, rain, summer crickets - can keep sudden noises from waking you up. Plus, some people find the sounds themselves calming.

Try... Fans, window air conditioners, or anything else that drones continuously. A sound machine is ideal if you don't want to run a fan or an air conditioner all night and if you'd rather hear chirps, croaks, or rushing water. Neubauer says the ones sold by Sharper Image are high-quality and come in a variety of sizes and price points. Real Simple: Sleep aids that diminish noise

Some people also find the steady sound of music or talk radio calming when first falling asleep at night. If that strategy works for you (and doesn't bother anyone else in the room), there's no reason not to use it, says James B. Maas, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Cornell University and a coauthor of Power Sleep. But it's important to use a radio or a CD player with a timer, he says, so the noise shuts off within an hour or so and doesn't wake you later, during lighter phases of sleep.

Plug your ears: Earplugs made of soft foam or moldable silicone, which conform to the shape of the outer ear canal, are inexpensive and easy to use. You can still hear, even well enough to have a conversation, but sound is muffled and unlikely to wake you.

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Try... Super Light Pre-Shaped Foam Ear Plugs or Mack's Safe Sound Soft Foam Earplugs both of which are available at drugstores. Roll a plug between your fingers until it's small enough to slip gently into the outer ear canal; it will slowly expand to fill the space.

If light is keeping you awake at night

Owls, bats, and crickets are designed by nature to be awake in the dark of night. Humans are not. Light is a signal to our brains that it's time to be up and at 'em, which is why bright electric bulbs and television and computer screens make it hard for us to get sleepy at bedtime.

"Limiting your light exposure in the evening tends to transition you into sleep," says Helene Emsellem, M.D., an associate clinical professor of neurology at George Washington University and the director of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

And keeping yourself in darkness all night helps you stay asleep.

Use low light: If you read in bed before sleeping, use a low-power book light rather than a bright bedside lamp to encourage your brain's shift to sleep. "I recommend the kind that clips onto books," Emsellem says.

Try... The "Itty Bitty" Book Light, which plugs into a wall and attaches to your book. It also comes with a battery pack. Real Simple: Sleep aids that diminish light

Block LED glow: Light is often a bigger issue than many people realize. Even the dim red or green LED light from a digital alarm clock can be annoying when you're asleep or trying to fall asleep. "If you have a clock with an LED dial, you should turn it around so that the light, however dim, doesn't get through your eyelids and interrupt sleep," says Maas. Turning the clock will also keep you from checking the time whenever you wake up - thereby raising your anxiety about the sleep you're losing.

Seal off windows: If your bedroom gets early-morning sun or there's a streetlight right outside, Maas says, "the best thing you can do is get darkening drapes or blackout shades."

Try... Shades made of nonwoven polyester, which can keep out virtually all outdoor light if they're well fitted to the windows. Levolor offers a collection of blackout shades called Evening Star, available in 12 colors.

Cover your eyes: Eye masks work, especially if they're big enough to cover the eyes completely. But people who toss and turn a lot may have trouble keeping them in place, and very light sleepers may find having something tied to their heads disturbing, says Robert D. Ballard, M.D., director of the sleep center at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, in Denver. Soft cloth (terry or fleece) on the side that touches your face will make the mask comfortable and stable, and extra material around the nose bridge will close the pathways where ambient light might sneak through. Wash your mask once a week and it can last for year.

Try... The fleecy Dreamaway Fold-Up Mask from Dream Essentials which is comfortable and blocks out light better than any of the other masks we tested. But if you hate the idea of fleece right next to your face (it can be hot in the summer), choose the lighter-weight Bucky Shades, which have a cotton knit on their face sides.

If you can't relax before sleeping

After dashing at top speed through a busy day, trying to pack in every last e-mail, phone call, and laundry load, how can anyone expect to jump into bed and immediately nod off? Even when you're relaxed, it typically takes about 20 minutes to fall asleep, says sleep expert James B. Maas.

Listen to soft music: Background music has been shown to help improve sleep. In one recent study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, senior citizens in Taiwan who had difficulty sleeping listened to calming music for 45 minutes before bedtime. They subsequently slept significantly longer and more deeply than those who didn't hear the music.

Try... Whatever music you find soothing and relaxing. The Taiwan study used various selections, including harp music by Georgia Kelly, quiet jazz by Paul Desmond, and synthesized sounds by Steven Halpern.

Sip warm drinks: Chamomile tea works for many people, as does hot milk. "Some teas have mild soporific effects," says sleep expert Helene Emsellem. "When you warm milk, it releases tryptophan," an amino acid used by the body to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter believed to promote sleep. "But over time the body can develop an immunity to tryptophan," she adds, "and its sleep-promoting properties dissipate." Some doctors suspect the power of warm drinks resides largely in the ritual of sipping them. "Biologically, we can't find much evidence for these drinks," Maas says. "But psychologically, if they make people relax and reduce stress, they work."

Try... Warm milk, caffeine-free herbal tea, or hot water with lemon and honey. These drinks may help get your body ready for rest.

Breathe soothing scents: Lavender, in particular, is a scent that is said to help lull the body to sleep. But no scientific evidence supports this claim, so experts like Maas, Robert Ballard, and David Neubauer neither recommend nor discourage it. "It's like 300-thread-count sheets," Neubauer says. "If you believe it works, it will."

Try... Anything that relaxes you before bedtime - a gentle scent, say, or a nice, warm bath. Or combine them by adding a drop of lavender oil from the Body Shop or from Purple Haze Lavender Farm to your bath. Purple Haze also makes lavender eye pillows which you can drape over your eyes for a few minutes before falling asleep. Real Simple: Relaxing sleep aids E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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