Health & Fit Fitbit's Lead Sleep Research Scientist Shares His Nighttime Routine
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Welcome to, where interesting people share a week’s worth of late-night habits. They’ll tell you, the reader, how they wrap up their day, how they get to sleep, stay asleep or fall back asleep, and how they feel when they wake up in the morning. Why? Because sleep is America’s Most Wanted thing. We chase after it like an elusive elixir that'll make us look younger and feel less stressed. (Maybe because it will.) We thought by getting people to share what works for them—and doesn’t—it might help you find better ZZZs. Or at least give you something entertaining to read. This week, we have Dr. Conor Heneghan, Lead Sleep Research Scientist at Fitbit.
Go Ahead, Take a Nap. A New Study Says They May Be Good for Your Heart
A new study says naps aren’t a lazy indulgence. In moderation, they may actually be good for your heart. © Getty ImagesIn a new paper published in the journal Heart, researchers found that Swiss adults who took one or two daytime naps per week had a lower risk of heart problems, including heart disease and strokes, than non-nappers. Since inadequate sleep is a known risk factor for a host of health problems, including cardiovascular issues, naps’ ability to replace lost nighttime sleep could make them a healthy habit.
Monday: Regulate your bedroom temp
I usually take the dog out for a walk around 7:30 p.m., after dinner. Tonight my wife joined me and we caught up on all that went on during our busy first day of the week. I got in bed at 9:30 p.m., which is pretty normal for me, with lights out by 10:15 p.m. to aim for eight hours of sleep. We keep our bedroom temperature regulated to 72 degrees as a compromise. If I had my way, it’d be even cooler! We also have blackout curtains and leave the doors shut to keep the room as dark as possible (I’m extra sensitive to light.)
Tuesday: Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Today was a particularly busy day at the office, and when that happens I like to wind down by playing a bit of piano—anything from classical to pop covers (Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol is a favorite). I try to pay attention to caffeine and alcohol intake during the evening hours, but I enjoyed a glass of white wine at dinner. (I’m more sensitive to reds.) I never have coffee after work. I keep it to one double espresso in the morning. I’m a little restless as I get into bed and try to get to sleep tonight—but myhelps me avoid stressing too much about it. I know that if I get at least 6.5-7 hours a night, I’ll be OK in the morning.
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Wednesday: Avoid exercise after 9 p.m.
Even when I’m tempted to sleep in, our data at Fitbit has found that a consistent bed and wake time can help improve sleep quality—so I was up and out at 6:10 a.m. to get ready and catch my train to the office. It’s challenging to fit in exercise during the week, but tonight I snuck in a quick run around 8:30 p.m. I try not to exercise any later than that, as it can impact my ability to fall asleep. (If you do exercise late at night, swimming is a great way to regulate your body temperature before bed, as opposed to high intensity sports like running or basketball.) But that pushes the night into a late one, and I don't fall asleep until after midnight.
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Thursday: Take melatonin when you feel restless
Tonight I had a work event—I usually have one at least once per week—so I got home a little later than usual. I took the dog out for a walk, hoping it would help me transition out of work mode, but I was still a little restless once I got into bed. I had a bit of melatonin to fix the problem, which I sometimes take at home. Ambien and other meds are useful for jet lag but they can make me groggy the next day, so I don’t like to chance it on a week night.
Want Better Sleep? Do This Simple Trick
Try increasing your physical activity and walk 2,000 more steps every day to improve quality of sleep, according to a study.
Friday: Tracking your sleep will give you good ideas
In looking back at my Sleep Score for the work week, I ranged within "Fair" every night. (My score usually ranges between 69-72, but the global average Sleep Score is 74, so even I have some work to do to improve!) Paying attention to this has really helped me develop better sleep habits over time. In addition to the blackout curtains and regulated room temperature, I sometimes sleep with an eye mask to block out light if my wife is up late reading before bed. Tonight, we enjoyed a dinner out and then I got under the sheets and looked forward to sleeping in on a Saturday.
Video: Not-so-obvious reasons you’re waking up in the middle of the night (Provided by Buzz60)
How to sleep well without medication?
Tired of counting sheep unsuccessfully? To wake up at 4 o'clock and cogitate nonstop? Sleeping without medication is possible. Here are six prescriptions for sleeping like a dormouse.Adopt a calming breath
With this object in the form of a pebble placed on its bedside table, we fall asleep in three minutes, promises the young French start-up Holi, sleep specialist 2.0. Inspired by Pranayama yoga and Harvard researcher Dr. Andrew Weil's method, the ritual is to synchronize his breathing with the light halos of Goodvibes. You inhale deeply, counting up to 4 during the red light scatter, and then block your breath for seven seconds on the yellow light. Finally, we expire loudly for eight seconds on the orange light. A cycle to be done several times before going to sleep.Evaluating the quality of sleep
The concept? Wear on the wrist this electronic coach designed to scrutinize our nights. In the early morning, he gives his observations: the times of light sleep, deep or paradoxical, the nocturnal awakenings, even brief. Fitbit has engaged a panel of US experts to develop tailored strategies based on the data collected. Everyone receives on their Smartphone personalized advice: do a little more sports, eat lighter, avoid screens when it is late ... Messages that facilitate the establishment of habits conducive to restorative nights.Make a cure
In the comfort of the Grand Hotel Thalasso & Spa of Saint-Jean-de-Luz (64), one learns to pamper one's sleep. After a review developed with the help of a doctor, we get his personalized relaxation program over five days: sessions of acupuncture, foot reflexology, lux-therapy and, unpublished, aquatic osteopathy. A mix of care that helps lower blood pressure and stress, ideal when the difficulties to fall asleep are related to emotional disorders. Dietary monitoring is not forgotten, with the "special sleep" herbal teas made by the homemade herbalist, and chef Christophe Grosjean's detox dishes - gluten-free, lactose-free and low-fat. The goal? Avoid the nocturnal intestinal transit disturbing the sleeper. A highly soothing program, all you need to find inner peace before closing your eyes.Review bedding
Good bedding regulates, relieves and promotes better nights. But between camel hair, coconut and silk wadding, what to choose? Answer with Baptiste and Alexandre, the two creators of the Atelier Cosme, who receive by appointment in a beautiful Parisian place. With their experience, they develop a diagnosis and write a customized prescription of vegetable and organic fibers. It takes four weeks to get the perfect mattress and then you have a hundred nights to check that you have a dream bed.Laying down his worries on paper
Falling asleep worried? Not terrible ... We evacuate what can disturb us, listing its problems to be resolved. Another tip when we are sensitive to noise, those outside as those of our thoughts? Spread in the room a continuous and neutral sound like a fan. These are some of the suggestions, sometimes unexpected but always available, from Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan, author of "Sleep Well, Live Alone" (Marabout). His creed Sleep disorders start in the day, so it is in our way of living that lies the root of our insomnia.
"Melatonin is the hormone naturally secreted by the brain to induce sleep," says Naturopath Rautenstrauch (). In the event of an off-beat rhythm or a lot of stress, you can not produce enough. A dietary supplement is then an excellent support, not only to promote sleep but also to ensure the good quality of sleep. A boost that helps regulate punctually a concern for sleep. There is even an orodispersible version. No need to get up to find a glass of water in the middle of the night, we leave it on the bedside table just in case, we catch it in the dark, we let it melt under the tongue ... and we slip into the arms of Morpheus in thirty minutes. Valdispert Melatonin (Vemedia).
Getting a good night's sleep could improve gut health .
New preliminary research has found that a bad night's sleep appears to have a negative effect on gut health, which in turn, could lead to other health issues. "Getting a good night's sleep can lead to improved health, and a lack of sleep can have detrimental effects. We've all seen the reports that show not getting proper sleep can lead to short term (stress, psychosocial issues) and long-term (cardiovascular disease, cancer) health problems. We know that the deepest stages of sleep is when the brain 'takes out the trash' since the brain and gut communicate with each other. Quality sleep impacts so many other facets of human health.
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