A really basic way to feel less stressed during the day — and one that most of us fail to capitalize on — is to get enough sleep at night.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could go to bed and wake up with better blood sugar control? In effect, that may be what you do when you get adequate sleep. Recent research suggests that not getting the shuteye you need may contribute to insulin resistance. One reason is that poor sleepers often experience sleep apnea, a condition that interferes with normal breathing and has been linked to diabetes. But there’s also evidence that sleep by itself helps the body use glucose more efficiently.
One study found that people who got only about 5 hours of sleep had 40 percent lower insulin sensitivity than people who got about 8 hours. Are you getting enough sleep? Probably not: Most people get at least 60 to 90 minutes less than they need.
If this sounds like a problem with a simple (and enjoyable) solution, it is: Spend more time in the sack. But getting enough sleep is as much about quality as quantity, and it’s not always easy to drift off when you want to, especially when you’re under stress. Hopefully, you’re already doing plenty that will help you get good sleep: eating right, exercising, and managing stress. If you still need help, however, try these tips.
Don’t sleep in. Snoozing late on weekends seems an obvious way to catch up on your winks, but it may be doing more harm than good by throwing your body out of rhythm, which can make it more difficult to get to sleep at night. If you’re going to add sleep time, do it by going to bed earlier and getting up at the usual time. Then try to stick to your new schedule so that your body clock knows when to cue feelings of sleepiness at night.
Reserve your bedroom for sleep. Keep the TV out of the bedroom, and don’t pay bills or do other paperwork in bed.
Dial down your mental energy at night. Put down that page-turner well ahead of bedtime, and if at all possible, don’t start conversations that could lead to disagreements.
Leave your worries on paper. If you find yourself bombarded by worries at night, take a half hour before bed to record your concerns and jot down possible solutions. When you feel you’ve dealt with an issue, you’re more likely to drift off.
Know when to fold. If you can’t sleep after 30 minutes, get out of bed, or you’ll just get frustrated with your efforts to fall asleep. (In one study, volunteers who were offered $25 to fall asleep quickly took longer to nod off than those who weren’t under any pressure.) Keep the lights low and pick up a boring book or tune into dull TV program until you feel sleepy again.
If you wake up during the night, stay in bed. You’ll have a better chance of falling back to sleep, and your body will be getting rest, even if you’re not sleeping.