"So many people brag to me, ‘I'm a great sleeper; I'm asleep the minute my head hits the pillow,'" says James Maas, PhD, author of Sleep for Success! and other books on the subject. "But that's a sure sign of serious sleep deprivation." A professor of psychology
at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., Maas has studied sleep for more than 45 years. Typically, he says, people sleep about an hour less than they think they do, and they often have no idea what it feels like to be truly rested. If you answer "yes" to one of the following questions, you may be secretly sleep deprived:
- Once your head hits the pillow, do you fall asleep within 5 minutes?
- Do you need an alarm clock to get up?
- Does a warm room-or a boring meeting or lecture-make you drowsy?
- Do you feel sleepy after one alcoholic drink?
- Do you sleep more on weekends than you do during the week?
Tossing and turning most nights? Turn to herbs for help. "While improvements indiet and lifestyle bring lasting relief froma chronic sleep problem, a thoughtful combination of herbs-each with a long history of safety and effectiveness-can help a person feel rested enough to make those changes," says Martie Whittekin. Martie Whittekin, CCN, is a nutritionist, nationally syndicated radio host, speaker, and author of Natural Alternatives to Nexium, Maalox, Tagamet, Prilosec and other Acid Blockers.
Superior Source Slumber Helper Micro-tabs with valerian, passion flower, and other herbs. Dissolves under the tongue instantly.
"I'm a long-time fan of Natural Calm," says celebrity nutritionist Ashley Koff, RD. "It has helped my patients address many stress-related symptoms from the most simple to the most severe." Koff also recommends Natural Calm when clients quit smoking or go off caffeine. Ashley Koff, RD, is an internationally-renowned registered dietician. She has been featured on the health transformation shows, Shedding for the Wedding and Love Handles. Her newest book Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged, written in collaboration with celebrity trainer Kathy Kaehler, will be available in September 2011.
Natural Vitality Natural Calm features a highly bioavailable powdered form of magnesium that can be taken before bedtime for better sleep.
Super Sleep Strategies
Most people need 7.5-9 hours of sleep nightly, says Maas. For better sleep, he recommends:
- Keep your bedroom completely dark, or wear an eye mask.
- Turn off computers and television at least an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. because it stays in your system for 8-10 hours.
- Schedule workouts between 5 and 7 p.m., as that timing will improve your quality of sleep.
Maas’s picks for the best and worst bedtime snacks:
2 tablespoons of hummus with vegetables
Dried fruit and nuts
Cheese or yogurt
Peanut or almond butter
Oats and other whole-grain cereals
Any processed food
High fiber/low protein unrefined carbohydrates
Anything with MSG
Warm milk (if it agrees with you)
Anything that gives you indigestion or heartburn