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Sleeping at 8,000 feet

Rocky Mountain high ain't so high when you cannot sleep.  Bedtime Network co-founder Cindy Bressler gives the scoop on sleeping a mile or more above sea level and what that might mean to your "good nights."


Aspen, Colorado.

Thanks to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, our family began spending summers in Aspen in 1995 and with the exception of three years, we've returned every summer since.  It's been a real constant in our lives.  Yearly family photos taken atop Ajax Mountain cover our basement walls and mark the passage of time , and hairstyles!

Aspen is located 7908 feet above sea level so it has a high alpine climate with low humidity.  (All my curly-haired girlfriends know that this means that virtually every day is a "good hair day."  That's very important.)

There is less oxygen at higher altitude and as a result many visitors may experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath and disturbed sleep (light sleep, frequent awakenings, less sleep time). Fortunately, I have rarely experienced these symptoms.

Drinking two or three times the water you usually consume and limiting alcohol, caffeine and salty foods can often help alleviate these symptoms, but still it can often take several days to adjust to the altitude.  Time permitting,  spending a couple of days at intermediate altitude (about 5000 feet) can help you acclimate.

Last week I was lucky enough to spend two days in Aspen with my very dear friend.  Two days meant that I didn't have as much time with my friend as I would have liked and it also meant that I didn't have time to adjust to the altitude.  And despite following the tips for living at high altitude, I wound up with a headache and didn't sleep well at all. (I forgot my iPod at home so I was without my Bedtime Beats.  For those of you that don't know, that's our award-winning sleep/music series that's proven to deliver a good night's sleep.  I use it nightly and I swear by it, so that probably didn't help my situation.)  By the second day, my headache was gone but I still didn't get a good night's sleep.  On my second night there, we made a trip to the market after dinner to buy some Celestial Seasonings "Sleepytime Tea."  (Sleep Tip: If you need a little extra help falling asleep, steep two tea bags in one cup of hot water.) Unfortunately, the tea and a warm shower (both of which help at home) didn't do the trick either!

If you've got any tips for sleeping better at high altitude, please share them on our Facebook page.

Vacation Tip:  This was my first time visiting Aspen in September and boy was it spectacular.  The fall foliage was at its peak and the green leaves of the aspen trees were various shades of gold and orange and the peaks of Maroon Bells were covered in snow.  I tried to capture the breathtaking sight on my iPhone but the photos don't come close to the real thing.  Nevertheless, I've got to share one with you.  For those of us that remember, cue John Denver's Sunshine On My Shoulders:  "If I had a day that I could give to you, I'd give to you a day just like today."