Here is a sleep test everybody needs to take. If you're having trouble nodding off, or waking up in the morning, or feeling tired in the middle of the day, this quiz can pinpoint the reason why. It comes from sleep specialist Dr. Lisa Shives:
- What do you do during the hour before bed? If you're like 95% of people it has something to do with electronics, whether it's watching Jimmy Kimmel or playing Angry Birds Space. But as we've said before, the light from our favorite gadgets can turn us all into night owls. Because the blue light they emit suppresses our sleep hormones. Even face-timing your best friend can mess you up. So, go low-tech an hour before bed.
- Who shares your bed? If your spouse is a snorer, have them get treatment, for your sake and theirs. If your husband flails around at night like a fish out of water - go for a walk at night, which can calm restless leg syndrome. Also, more than one in five people sleep with a pet. Get them their own bed.
- When was the last time you washed your sheets? 75% of people report getting a better night's sleep on fresh sheets. And if your laundry detergent has the faint smell of lavender, even better. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people who smell a lavender scent before bed sleep more deeply and feel more energized in the morning.
- Do you toss and turn, finding it impossible to get comfortable? You may need to diagnose your best sleep position. If you get heartburn, sleep on your left, so your stomach acid doesn't leak into your esophagus. If you have heart trouble, sleep on your right, to give your heart more room to pump blood. If you have back pain, sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees to take the pressure off your spine. Two sleep positions to avoid: the stomach and the fetal position. Sleeping curled up restricts breathing, and stomach sleeping stresses your back and neck.
- Do you wake up drenched in sweat? Well, no wonder you can't sleep. Our core body temperature needs to drop to trigger our sleep hormones. If you're sweating, that's your body's way of trying to cool you down so you can sleep. In fact, our body temperature reaches its lowest point around 5am and your bedroom should be around 65 degrees for optimal sleep. If you have a sleep-sweat problem still, you may need to invest in bedding that wicks away moisture. Cotton sheets will absorb your sweat and stick to you, trapping the heat. Sheets that wick moisture will reduce your body temperature. You can buy them at Sheex.com.
- What did you have for dinner? Poor sleepers eat more fatty foods than people who sleep soundly. And heartburn is linked to sleep disorders. So try cutting out fatty, acidic, and spicy foods. Because 20% of people with sleep problems also have digestive issues and bloating. Fix one and you just may fix the other.