Clean sleep: New approach helps with apnea, diabetes and more

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A new approach called clean sleep is helping patients finally get the rest their bodies are craving.

Mary Helen Rogers, with The Better Sleep Council, said the idea is to sleep like you were meant to.

"Sort of like when you hear about these diets, eat like a cave man. The concept is: You want to be able to rest without sleep aids, without just crashing and burning," Rogers said.

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Tossing and turning during sleepless nights. It's not just nerve racking, it's detrimental to your health.

"I was exhausted during the day. I couldn't function," said Robin Kibler.

For months, she struggled to sleep well. It was affecting her wellness and her mood.

"I would just get up in the middle of the night, be all sweaty," she said.

In order to get the restorative sleep that will help you wake up feeling rested, Rogers said don't make sleep an afterthought.

"You want to plan for sleep just as you want to plan your meal or you want to schedule time to go to the gym," she said.

So how do you make your sleep "clean?" First, assess your sleep surface.

"Are you in alignment? Do you wake up with aches and pains? How are you feeling in the morning? And if it's not rested and restored then you need to think about a new mattress," Rogers said.

Next, de-clutter your bedroom.

"Don't have piles of laundry and random boxes and baskets of things that you pile up, you want your bedroom to be calming and relaxing," Rogers said.

Keep your bedroom at an ideal sleeping temperature, between 68 and 70 degree, emphasizing a cool head and warm feet.

"Temperature actually affects your sleep cycle. And the cooler you are and the more relaxed you become and the deeper you sleep," said Rogers.

When Kibler finally underwent a sleep study at University Hospital's Center for Advanced Sleep Medicine, she was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Her CPAP mask has helped her significantly, but she's also adopted other clean sleep practices to supplement her treatment.

"I make sure that I don't eat after a certain time or drink anything. If I drink anything it's usually water," Kibler said.

Experts say try Sleepytime, herbal or chamomile teas, avoid caffeine after 2 p.m.

Exercise right before you go to bed. Also, don't drink alcohol at least an hour or two before bedtime to avoid sleep disruption.

Kibler changed her television habits too, to control potential dreams that might wake her. She keeps devices out of the bedroom and maintains a dark sleep space.

"The only light that's on in my room are the lights on my alarm clock," she said.

Don't skip breakfast. If you do, your body is running on adrenaline and it sets the momentum that all day long you're doing nothing but catching up, according to sleep experts.

Yoga Nidra can also help you get clean sleep. Instructor Jane Ruddy said it forces you to slow down and clear the chatter in your head.

"The participant is laying down and with arms evenly spaced, palms facing up and the feet will flop out to the side," Ruddy said.

Matching the length of inhalation with length of exhalation, that in of itself is calming, Ruddy said.

"I am sleeping fantastic. I get up anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, sometimes more," said Kibler, adding her quality of life has really improved since making these changes to her sleep habits.

"I don't come home and take naps in the afternoon. I have a more active lifestyle," she said.

Kibler is also a diabetic. She says her A1C --  the test to measure the glucose (blood sugar) in your blood -- went from 14 to 7.

Rogers said to adopt at least 80 percent of these practices and you can expect to sleep significantly better and improve your overall health. Since you can't bank sleep, it's got to be a consistent routine. But you'll see the payoff quickly.

"If you get three or four days of quality sleep you're going to see the results immediately," Rogers said.

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