Raise your hand if getting a good night\’s sleep is becoming mission impossible. Yep, just as I thought. Your insomnia could be happening for a wide variety of reasons— from stress and anxiety to menopause and medical conditions. Bet you didn\’t know that insomnia is the most commonly reported sleep disorder and that it affects 30 percent of adults, most of whom are women and the elderly. But wait! Help is on the way.

A recent research abstract authored by Brazilian scientist Giselle Passos, is one of the first studies to show that people who suffer from insomnia and who engage in a simple moderate aerobic exercise program such as walking for 30 minutes per day, are able to reverse their sleep disorder. The researchers showed substantial changes in the ability to fall asleep and achieve as well as maintain deep sleep in those people who performed consistent daily deliberate physical activity. The great news is that it was moderate, not strenuous activity, that led to these positive changes.

When I wrote Fight Fat after Forty, I coined the term “medicate with movement”. I was referring to those lifestyle activities we can engage in that will help us improve the quality of our lives—without having to resort to medications. I am here to tell you that the smartest thing you could possibly do is get up and not only schedule in time for that walk, bike ride, swim, or hike, but to improve your activities of daily living throughout your 24 hours of awaken time. I will guarantee you\’ll be counting sheep in no time.

Why should you care about sleep? Getting optimal sleep is serious business. It is during sleep that your immune system has the undistracted time to do its nightly reparations and regroup for the next busy day. You rebalance and refresh to face life\’s challenges. This is applicable to all ages. Women are very susceptible to poor sleep as care giving and relationship stress plays such a great role in our lives. For instance, studies show that marital happiness is a key element to excellent sleep in women.

How about your kids? Recent studies show that there\’s a link between poor sleep and suicidal behavior among kids and teens who have depression, especially bipolar and unipolar disorders. Children need 10-11 hours of sleep and teens about 9 hours. What hasn\’t helped is that schools have either severely cut or completely eliminated physical education and recess times, which is definitely contributing to the poor sleep in young people.
Want a good night\’s sleep? Here\’s your sleep Rx:Incorporate at least 30 minutes of deliberate moderate aerobic activity every day you can.
Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.

The Diet Too Good To Be True!

This just in from Dr. Pamela Peeke—the guru and goddess of great health, total fitness and aging with “peeke” performance; the author of Body for Life, Fight Fat After Forty, and Fit To Live; the distinguished physician, scientist and expert in nutrition (men\’s and women\’s) and stress (likewise)—”The Coping Diet.” Be forewarned! It\’s a joke, a delicious joke. But on this incredibly tense day, simply perusing the diet made me feel a whole lot better, because like food, laughter is often the best medicine.

“This specially formulated diet is designed to help women cope with the stress that builds during the day,” notes Dr. Pam Peeke, adding “only girlfriends can understand this one!”Here goes:

BREAKFAST
1 grapefruit
1 slice whole-wheat toast
1 cup skim milk

LUNCH
1 small portion lean, steamed chicken
1 cup spinach
1 cup herbal tea
1 Hershey\’s kiss

AFTERNOON SNACK
The rest of the Hershey kisses in the bag
1 tub of Hagen-Daaz ice cream with chocolate chips

DINNER
4 glasses of wine (red or white)
2 loaves garlic bread
1 family size supreme pizza
3 Snickers Bars

LATE NIGHT SNACK
1 whole Sarah Lee cheesecake (eaten directly from the freezer)

REMEMBER: S-t-r-e-s-s-e-d spelled backward is desserts !