Sleep Cures from Mother Nature

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Soak Up Morning Sunshine

Light, especially sunlight, has such a potent effect on your body's internal clock, or circadian rhythms, that you can use it to reset your sleep cycle, says Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern University. "If you tend to be a night owl who can't get to sleep until 1 a.m., you may have delayed circadian rhythms. To shift to an earlier schedule -- and make it easier to get to bed and get up on time -- soak up as much sunlight as possible between 6 and 8 a.m." Force yourself to wake up early and sit in a sunny room or take a post-sunrise walk. When it's warm, try eating breakfast outdoors. Basking in early-morning rays prompts your body to suppress production of melatonin -- the sleep hormone -- during the day and release it earlier in the evening, so falling asleep isn't such a struggle. A light box of the type used for people with seasonal affective disorder can help. "Look for one with broad-spectrum light and with a UV filter," recommends Dr. Zee.

Continued on page 3:  Exercise Early in the Evening


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