How do I get better sleep?

Getting better sleep
We all know what it feels like to be “running on empty,” but most of us can shake it off after a few days. Where does that leave the ones that can’t? Tired and frustrated. We can help with that. These easy-to-apply tips can make a huge difference in your sleep, that can ultimately make an enormous difference in your life.

If  you’re having trouble sleeping, try these:

  • Mantain a regular wake time, even on days off work and on weekends.
  • Try to go to bed only when you are drowsy.
  • If you get in bed and are not drowsy, leave your bedroom and engage in quiet activity. Do not permit yourself to fall asleep outside of the bedroom.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep, sex and times of illness.
  • If you have trouble sleeping at night, don’t nap during the daytime. If you do nap, try to do so at the same time every day and for no more than one hour. Mid-afternoon (no later than 3:00 p.m.) is best for most people.
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack or ten minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly. Confine vigorous exercise to early in the day, at least six hours before bedtime, and do mild exercise at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Keep a regular schedule. Regular times for meals, medications, chores and other activities help keep the brain’s inner clock running smoothly, allowing you to sleep more easily and soundly.
  • While a light snack before bedtime can help promote sound sleep, avoid large meals.
  • Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soda with caffeine, cocoa or chocolate) within six hours of bedtime.
  • Do not drink alcohol when sleepy. When you are sleepy, even a small dose of alcohol can affect activities like driving. Do not drink alcohol while taking sleeping pills or certain other medications (consult your healthcare professional). Do not use alcohol to help you sleep at night. While alcohol may help you to fall asleep more quickly, it severely affects the quality of sleep later in the night and may even keep you from sleeping through the night.
  • Avoid tobacco close to bedtime or during the night.
  • Sleeping pills should be used conservatively. Most healthcare professionals avoid prescribing sleeping pills for periods longer than two or three weeks. Remember to tell your healthcare professional about any symptoms of breathing problems during sleep (snoring, stop-breathing episodes, waking up short of breath, waking up with a headache or nausea) when being prescribed sleeping pills.

If these don’t help, take it a step further:

Distract your mind

Lying in bed frustrated because you cannot fall asleep, and trying harder and harder to fall asleep, will never help you sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, try distracting your mind by reading, watching a videotape (not television, because that gives you the time), listening to a book on tape, etc. For some people, it is good to do this in bed; other people find it different room better

Curtail Time in Bed

Most insomniacs stay in bed longer than they should. This makes sleep more shallow and riddled with awakenings. Many people find that consistently cutting of time spent in bed in bed helps them sleep more soundly and leads to a more refreshing sleep.

Managing Stress

The stress that stems from common life situations often contributes to sleep problems. A relaxing activity around bedtime can help relieve tension and encourage sleep. Taking some time to think clearly about your problems and propose a few solutions can have a positive effect on your sleep quality. Talking with a trusted friend or colleague to “air out” troubling issues also can be helpful. Relaxation exercise, meditation, biofeedback and hypnosis are sometimes good methods for controlling sleep problems. These techniques should be learned from a psychologist, physician or other healthcare professional.

Designating “Worry Time”

Another technique that can be helpful is to designate a particular time for worry. This time is dedicated to sorting out problems and coming up with possible solutions. Set aside 30 minutes in the evening to sit alone and undisturbed. Try writing down problems in a list. Write your more serious worries on 3×5 cards, where you write one worry as it comes to mind (one per card). When you have all of your worries written down, sort the cards into three to five piles, according to the priority of each worry. Next, look at each card and formulate a possible solution to that worry. While not all worries will have easy solutions, even small progress in remedying a worry can yield helpful results. The morning after recording your worries, review the worry cards and begin to work on resolving the worries you’ve identified.

 

If none of these help, or you have some of the previously mentioned breathing concerns, visit our website to learn more and to book an appointment with us.

 

Sleep is a precious resource. Make sure you get enough.

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