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Protect Your Heart With a Good Night's Sleep

By Sandy Schroeder

Most of us assume we are in better shape when we sleep soundly at night. Now researchers say it may be more important than we thought.  Studies show people who sleep less than six hours a night raise their heart attack risk by 20 percent.

Another study says people who have disturbed sleep at night are at a 40 to 50 percent greater risk of a heart attack.

In our chaotic world, sleep can be a challenge, but here are a few ways to make it a priority.

Set up some healthy patterns - Go to sleep at the same time even on weekends. Work on your daily schedule to make it flow for you and your family. Work on any outgoing issues and try to solve the problems wherever possible.

Create some soothing cues - Establish a quiet time before bedtime to help everyone down. Create a comforting ritual with soft music, warm baths and simple snacks.

Avoid the troublemakers  - Boot the electronics including the TV, cell phones, and laptops. Skip spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol and smoking at least two hours before bedtime.       

Put exercise to work - Get at least 30 minutes of time walking, jogging, or working out every day. Add some dancing and stretching too.

Get outside - Make sure you get some fresh air and sunshine every day. Walk the dog, run to the park or shoot some hoops with your kids.

Make your bedroom a retreat - Move all of the sports equipment and extra furniture out. Use an air filter to clean the air and muffle noise. Use blackout drapes and soft lighting. Make sure your mattress and pillow are comfortable.

Identify any medical issues - If asthma, sleep apnea, overactive thyroid, gastroesophageal reflux disease or other health issues are affecting your sleep see your doctor to get some help.

Lighten up a little - In the midst of our daily pressures we sometimes forget to just kick back and laugh a little. Skip the gloomy films and downer movies and gravitate to the funny old movies you love.  A little laughter can go a long way to even out the day and guarantee better sleep.

Try a little meditation - Do simple 15-minute quiet meditations morning and evening.  Or try a moving meditation like tai chi or yoga.

Turn to music -  Let your favorite sounds ease the day and mellow you out with soft guitars or soulful jazz.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Schaumburg, Ill.

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