Dr. Carlyle Smith tells audience members how to get a restful sleep during his “Sleepless in Manitoba — Staying Awake on the Job” seminar at Manitoba Ag Days on Tuesday afternoon. (LINDSEY ENNS/BRANDON SUN)
Dr. Carlyle Smith told a crowd filled with some of Brandon’s worst sleepers that the key to achieving a great night’s sleep is to sync your sleep cycle with your body’s temperature cycle.
The psychology professor and director of Trent University’s sleep research laboratories in Peterborough, Ont., also ensured audience members inside the Keystone Centre on Tuesday during Manitoba Ag Days that an afternoon nap is nothing to be ashamed of.
"Napping is good for you, you should do it," he said. "Especially right around 1:30 p.m. when your body goes into its post-lunch dip."
Although sleeping on the job wasn’t the theme of Smith’s seminar entitled, "Sleepless in Manitoba — Staying Awake on the Job," he did share expert tips on creating the perfect ambience for a restful night’s sleep.
"The way your body performs the next day is based on your previous night’s sleep," he said. "When you get a good sleep, your mind is sharp the next day."
Smith said that reaching your REM cycle is what makes for a good sleep, which can sometimes be difficult to achieve for shift workers and those experiencing jet lag.
"It’s difficult for your body’s temperature and sleep cycle to switch back and forth," he said.
Some of the suggestions Smith shared for getting your body into sleep mode include having a comfortable mattress, keeping the television and computer out of the bedroom and not eating a heavy meal before bedtime. But for those who like to nibble on something before they hit the sack, Smith suggested filling up with smaller portions of things like cheese and crackers, a small turkey sandwich or whole grain cereal with milk.
For those who really have a hard time slipping into a peaceful slumber, Smith said to think twice before reaching for prescription pills or alcohol.
"Alcohol might induce good sleep onset, but the sleep isn’t natural," he said. "It just knocks you out."
As for pills, Smith said that over time your body gets used to them, requiring you to take a higher dosage which can sometimes lead to dependency issues. Smith suggests using natural herbal remedies like melatonin, which is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle.
Smith added that the best way to beat insomnia is to keep your bedtime and wake time as consistent as possible.
"Your body wants you to have a boring life, it wants you to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 16, 2013