A nightcap is no guarantee of a good night’s rest 

Q. What’s the trick to good sleep? Will a glass of sangria before bed help?

— Susan, Cleveland

A. Wine and sleep sound like a great combination, right? Not so much. For most of us, it backfires. While alcohol is sedating at first, later in the night it usually does a 180 and wakes you up, in extreme cases, 20 times! The next morning, instead of feeling energized and refreshed, you’re bleary-eyed and tired. Alcohol also seems to mess up your most restorative sleep.

Timing counts. For most people, allowing an hour or two between a drink and bedtime avoids problems. Unlucky ones need a six-hour gap.

How to drop off faster than a new puppy? Use good "sleep hygiene." Here’s our 20-second version:

  • Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex (no computers, no TV, no bill-paying, no nuttin’).
  • Plan when you need to go to bed to get seven to eight hours of rest.
  • Divide the 30 minutes beforehand into three parts: 10 minutes for next-day things (making a list, packing a lunch), so you don’t lie awake thinking about them; 10 minutes for washing, flossing, brushing; 10 minutes for meditating — it works way better than wine.

 

Q. I’m 56, 5-feet, 2-inches tall and weigh 185 pounds. I’ve lost 31 pounds and want to lose 39 more. I went from no exercise to walking a treadmill daily and lifting weights. But I just had a blood test and my bad LDL cholesterol went up! From 143 to 170. My HDL’s the same (35).

I take fish oil, flax seed oil, plant sterols and pantothenic acid. My so-so doctor (small town, few choices) suggested Mevacor, but I already have muscle pain and know that’s a common side effect of cholesterol meds. I’m taking sustained-release niacin (250 mg) instead. Am I doing the right things?

— Angie, via email

A. Congrats on your weight loss so far! Your LDL results are so unlikely that we wonder if this is a case of "Garbage in, garbage out." Flash back. Did your doc tell you to fast for nine to 12 hours before your blood test? No food except water and no supplements (especially oils or fats). If not, your LDL results are garbage; only your HDL’s accurate. Get another test.

Otherwise, we’re wowed. Almost everything we tell people to do for LDL and HDL, you’re already doing. Losing weight? Check. Walking daily? Check. Adding strength work? Check. Taking omega-3s, plant sterols, pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5)? Check, check, and check. Trying niacin? Check — but we’d tweak that. Up your dose to 500 mg and take it with aspirin before bed to decrease the risk of hot flashes — a common side effect. If your LDL and HDL don’t improve on your next test, boost the niacin to 1,000 and get re-tested in three months.

We’d like your LDL under 100 and your HDL over 55. Everything you’re doing should get you there. Let us know how you do.

 

The YOU Docs — Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic — are the authors of "YOU: Losing Weight." For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

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