The amount of sleep needed varies among individuals, Maas notes, and
"most people haven't a clue as to how much sleep they really need."
Determine the optimum amount you require—then plan to get it.
Experiment with when you retire and how long you sleep until you can
wake up without an alarm clock and feel alert through the day. Most
people need more sleep each night—anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes
more—than they generally get.
"Duration [the number of hours] and regularity [when you go to bed
and get up]," are the keys to good sleep, notes Maas. Set a daily
schedule for when you'll retire and wake up and maintain it on the
weekends and on the road. When you deviate, get back on schedule as
soon as you can. Don't try to compensate for your sleep loss by
sleeping later, or longer. Instead, try a power nap of no more than
15 to 20 minutes during the day.
HEALTHY CHOICES AND
If you want to "emerge from the fog of sleepiness to which we've
become habituated," as Maas describes it, you'll need to actively
court sleep via good habits and planning:
■ Get comfortable.
Counter intrusive noise and light—pack sturdy earplugs and a sleep
mask. Tote an inflatable neck or travel pillow (or even your
■ Calm yourself.
Stress, tension, anxiety, and nervous exhaustion are major obstacles
to good sleep. Use exercise, deep breathing or other relaxation
techniques to help you unwind.
■ Get moving.
Regular exercise facilitates more restful and deeper sleep. But
don't work out or engage in any strenuous physical activity within
three hours before you retire.
■ Watch what you
eat—and when. Avoid high-fat, spicy, or protein-heavy foods;
overeating and late-night eating, all of which can lead to tossing
and turning. Instead, opt for sleep-promoting foods such as complex
carbohydrates (pasta, rice) or those that contain tryptophan (dates,
figs, bananas, yogurt, milk, tuna, turkey).
Try not to eat for at least two hours before bed and eat regularly
during the day (skipping meals or dieting can lead to
sleep-interrupting hunger pangs). If you must eat before bed, snack
on a handful of dry cereal, popcorn, or a cracker.
■ Eliminate or minimize
sleep-stealing stimulants. Cut down on caffeinated foods and
beverages and alcohol during the day; don't ingest anything with
caffeine or alcohol at least three hours before bed (watch out for
hidden caffeine in over-the-counter remedies, some bottled waters,
even chewing gum). Avoid cheese, sugar, spinach, ham, tomatoes, and
chocolate, especially the tempting one on your pillow—they contain a
substance that ups the production of a stimulant in the body.
■ Check any medications
you're taking. Some can contribute to insomnia or cause sleep
■ Cut down, or stop,
■ Don't take sleeping
pills. They have their own side-effects, can be habit-forming,
and can disturb sleep. Worse, they lose their effectiveness over
time and don't cure sleeplessness. Consider natural sleep remedies
such as the herb valerian (in tea or capsules).
■ Ease into sleep.
About an hour before you retire, start signaling your body to wind
down. Relax via music or reading. Stop working, and avoid anything
that stimulates you mentally or physically.
■ Use lighting as a
sleep aid. Bright light signals daytime to your inner biological
clock. So avoid exposure to it late at night; lower the amount of
light in your room a couple of hours before bedtime.
If you get up in the middle of the night, avoid turning on lights
(use a nitelight). Sudden exposure to light can make it difficult to
fall back to sleep.
Where you choose to lay your head is a very strong predicator
of how well you'll sleep. Consider a hotel's location, size,
traffic, and clientele (which can affect internal and external noise
levels) as well as the individual room. Ask for a room that's
located away from heavily trafficked areas (by elevators, vending
machines, storage rooms, etc.).
Noise isn't the only problem that can keep you from sound sleep. So
before you settle in, check a room for other potential
sleep-inhibitors: Is the bedding (especially the pillows)
comfortable? Can you open the windows? Are the temperature controls
operational? Can you darken the room as needed to keep out intrusive
light? Are there any unpleasant smells?
Travelers and non-travelers alike tout the benefits of
Quiet Nite's all-natural
sleep products—a welcome respite from addictive prescription sleep
Quiet Nite's CEO and creative director, Alana Dyanne, developed the
proprietary Quiet Nite Crème formulation of botanical extracts,
organic essential oils, and homeopathics that are blended into an
all-natural seaweed gel base for quick absorption via a roll-on
It's unique method of topical application combines ancient
principles of homeopathy, herbal therapy, holistic aromatherapy, and
Chinese acupressure techniques. This induces deep relaxation and
promotes restful sleep.
The Sleep Solution, A 21-Night Program for Restful Sleep
(Ball and Hough; Ulysses Press);
Sleep Well Tonight! Sure-Fire Solutions for a Good Night’s Rest
(Griffey; Sterling Publishing; includes a music CD)
The Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org)
Copyright© 2002 to 2004, Marlene
R. Fedin; no reprint or reuse, on or offline,
express permission of the author