Dr. Gary Small, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry and aging and director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Small, one the nations top brain health experts, frequently appears on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Dr. Oz Show. He is co-author with his wife Gigi Vorgan of many popular books, including The New York Times best-seller, The Memory Bible, and The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program. He is author of The Mind Health Report newsletter.

Dr. Gary Small, M.D.

5 Ways to Beat Insomnia and Boost Your Brain

Monday, 18 Nov 2013 10:55 AM

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Getting into the habit of a good night’s sleep is a key stress-management strategy that will bolster both brain and body health. Most of us know this instinctively. I certainly feel great after a good night’s sleep. My body has energy and my mind is alert. 
 
These good feelings result in part from sleep’s anti-inflammatory effects. Researchers have found that a restful night of sleep alters blood markers of inflammation. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh found that people with difficulty falling asleep, fretful sleep, or loud snoring are more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, a condition linked to chronic inflammation that puts our brains and bodies at risk for disease.
 
Getting a good night’s sleep is an important way to cope with stress, reduce chronic inflammation, and improve your mind health.
 
TRY THESE 5 ANTI-INSOMNIA STRATEGIES
 
Don’t nap during the dayStaying awake in the day will make you sleepier at night.
 
Relax before bedtimePlaying tennis or watching a scary movie tends to hype us up and make it hard to fall asleep. Instead, try reading a book or watching something more serene to get yourself in the mood for rest. Figure out what works best for you and stick to your routine.

Limit evening liquids
That bedtime cup of tea or eight ounces of water will fill your bladder — a wakeup call that for many people makes it hard to settle back to sleep.

No caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant and is present not just in coffee but also tea and chocolate. Even decaf can keep awake people who are sensitive to caffeine. 

Develop sleep routines
Pick a bedtime and shoot for it every night. Once you get into bed for sleeping, try not watching television or even reading a book — just turn out the light and get settled. If you are not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something else until you feel tired again. Once you go back to bed, get settled and give it another 20 minutes. Every time you get into bed to sleep, try remaining still and focus on slow, steady breathing. 

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