Having Trouble Sleeping? Hit the Gym!

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Try adding exercise to your daily routine to enjoy better sleep.

Do you toss and turn? Do you wake up after a few hours and find it impossible to fall back asleep? First, the bad news: so are 60 million other Americans. 60 million Americans will experience some form of insomnia this year.

The Good News

Sleep disorders are treatable, and you can find help at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic Sleep Disorders Center. The center specializes in the diagnoses and treatment of patients who have sleep difficulties.

There may be personal changes that can also help that don’t require a physician. Putting your smartphone away an hour before bedtime helps your mind and body “power down.” Caffeine stays in your body for 6 – 8 hours after drinking a cup of joe, and your liver needs an hour to break down alcohol. So try having your beverage of choice earlier in the day.

Researchers have found sleep quality improves with exercise.

If you’ve been tossing and turning for twenty minutes, you often become anxious about not falling asleep. Getting out of bed and distracting yourself for a few minutes can help – reading, watching a relaxing show, meditating. But one study shows “a bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia compared to a night in which they did not exercise.”

People who regularly hit the gym sleep better and feel more alert during the day than those who are not as active. An Oregon State University sleep study showed that participants who exercised 150 minutes a week slept better and felt less drowsy during the daytime.

Regular physical activity may help those suffering from insomnia without medication.

Why Does Exercise Help?

Oddly, not all exercise seems to assist in battling insomnia. Running, lifting weights and other vigorous aerobic exercise does not immediately improve sleep. After a period of daily exercise, (a few months) adults following vigorous workout routines reported better sleep quality. They reported falling asleep more quickly than they did before starting their exercise regimen, and also sleeping for longer periods of time.

Exercise causes the body to elevate its temperature. This increase in body temperature can last for up to four hours after your workout. The post-exercise drop in temperature promotes falling asleep, so get that workout in before dinner. After that, a little light yoga or an after-dinner stroll is helpful – but don’t take a late HIIT workout.

If you don’t have problems falling asleep, but you wake up after a few hours, a morning jog may be the most beneficial. Beginning the day with exercise will help the body remain in its rested state longer. Make sure that you stretch and warm up if you go this route – your body needs time to adjust from sleep to activity.

Exercise Helps in Other Ways

Insomnia is often linked to depression and anxiety, ranging from mild to severe cases. The release of endorphins as a result of exercise plays a large part in reducing those symptoms.

Circadian rhythm also plays a part in some types of insomnia, and exercise can help to “reset” that natural cycle. Adding exercise early in the day sets the body cycle naturally to rest after a period of time. If your body clock is broken, a quick exercise regimen may be just the thing you need to fix it.

Beyond Exercise

If you have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep at night or excessive daytime sleepiness, we are here for you. If it seems like nothing works, don’t worry. We have you covered – read this, and learn more about our Sleep Disorders Center here.

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A Dieters’ Guide For Cooking A Thanksgiving Meal Everyone Can Stomach

By  – U.S. News Health (Eat + Run)

November 13, 2012

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner these days is not for the faint of heart. As the guest list grows, so too does the list of dietary restrictions.

There have always been your vegetarian cousin and your uncle with diabetes. But this year, your sister with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is bringing her gluten-intolerant boyfriend, and your nephew with the nut allergy will be joining you. Mom called to remind you that your dad’s cholesterol is through the roof, so please go easy on the saturated fat when cooking this year. Oh, and did she mention she’s just been diagnosed with lactose-intolerance?

Take a deep breath, and put away the Excel spreadsheet. Hosting a successful and delicious Thanksgiving meal for a digestively diverse crowd doesn’t necessarily translate into more work. It just means you need to get smart on strategies that make each dish meet the needs of most people at the table. Here are some tips to get started:

• Keep the side dishes vegetarian. By making most—or all—side dishes vegetarian-friendly, you save yourself the work of having to come up with a separate vegetarian entrée for the non-meat eaters. Your veggie guests will leave full and satisfied if they can fill their plates with all the vegetable and grain-based dishes you prepare. So use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock in stuffing (and leave out the sausage); use kosher (gelatin-free) marshmallows in the sweet potato casserole, and use smoked paprika instead of bacon to flavor roasted Brussels sprouts. (Alternatively, you can serve bacon-infused sauces or dressings that can be served on the side if you just can’t envision Thanksgiving without bacon!)

• Use lactose-free products in all recipes that call for dairy. Lactose-free versions of milk, plain yogurt, and sour cream are available nationwide, and lactose-free plain kefir—a thick, drinkable yogurt—is a great stand-in for heavy cream. This swap won’t affect the taste or texture of your dishes at all, but it will make them much more comfortable to digest for guests with IBS and lactose intolerance. Plus, lactose-free kefir is a lower -calorie and lower-cholesterol alternative to heavy cream. As a result, your weight-watching relatives can feel much less guilty about having a nibble of mashed potatoes or a slice of pumpkin pie. Note that aged cheeses (cheddar, Parmesan, etc.) and butter are virtually lactose-free; moderate portions of foods containing these ingredients should be well-tolerated by most guests.

• Minimize the presence of wheat flour at the table, and consider whole-grain, gluten-free alternatives. Traditional bread-based stuffing isn’t doing anyone any favors—it’s a no-go for diabetics as well as weight-conscious and gluten-intolerant guests. Why not use wild rice or quinoa as the base for a healthier and more nutritious stuffing loaded with traditional flavors like chestnut, mushroom, sage, and thyme? A dish like this also adds substance to a vegetarian meal. Separately, note that wheat flour is found in many store-bought convenience foods used in holiday fare—French’s French Fried Onions, for example, to top green bean casserole or Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup for the gravy. If you use these ingredients in your recipes, try seeking out gluten-free substitutes, or serve them on the side whenever possible to avoid contaminating the whole dish for those who must avoid gluten. If you’re making gravy from scratch, swap all-purpose flour for sweet rice flour to make it gluten-free. Easy as pie!

• Speaking of pie, make sure to offer at least one dessert that can be enjoyed by the gluten-free and nut-free crowd. If apple and pecan pies are already on the menu, why not offer pumpkin in an alternative form, like individual custards or gluten-free quick bread? How about a flourless chocolate cake or chocolate-dipped poached pears? Living Without magazine publishes a terrific holiday edition full of allergy-friendly recipes, and a simple Google search will yield recipes for hundreds of allergy-friendly desserts that can be enjoyed by everyone at the table. Alternatively, gluten-free baking mixes for cookies, cakes, and brownies—most of which are also nut-free—are widely available in supermarkets nationwide and help you whip up another dessert in no time flat. As if it needed to be said, fresh fruit is always an appropriate and safe option for ending an indulgent holiday meal. Simply offering a bowl of clementines or platter of fresh grapes is a gesture that will be appreciated by guests with dietary restrictions, and those watching their weight or blood sugar levels.

The downside of hosting a wildly successful holiday meal in which everyone feels included, of course, is that they’re likely to come back next year. Consider yourself warned!

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, CDN, is a NYC-based registered dietitian whose clinical practice specializes in digestive disorders, Celiac Disease, and food intolerances. Her personal blog,www.tamaraduker.com, focuses on healthy eating and gluten-free living.