Tuesday, February 22, 2011

HOW TO GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP

In this crazy, fast-paced world, more and more people are having difficulty getting a good night's sleep or have insomnia.  Here are come tips to help you sleep better.

1)  Go to bed at the same time every night, preferably before 11 p.m., and wake up at the same time every day.  That means weekends, too.  Burning the midnight oil on the weekend will affect your sleep during the week.  Melatonin production is best before midnight so going to bed after midnight is best left to owls.

2)  Do not eat or exercise within 2 hours of bedtime.  If your body is busy digesting food, it can't relax enough for sleep.  And if your body is warm from exercise, it will take hours to cool down enough for sleep. 

3)  Exercise during the day.  Working away excess energy during the day will help you sleep calmer at night.

4)  Plan the next day on paper before going to bed otherwise you may be planning your next day in bed in your mind.

5)  If you are angry at someone, make a resolution to address your anger with that person the next day.  If it is someone from your past, then forgive them.  Write a note to them and then shred it or burn it if you have a fireplace.  Holding on to grudges only hurts you.

6)  Sleep in complete darkness.  Even lights from alarm clocks can keep you from falling into a deep sleep.  Invest in a good sleep mask if needed.

7)  If you have annoying noises outside your dwelling that keeps you up at night, buy a machine that makes a white noise to block out surrounding noises.  Place the machine at least 5 feet from your bed.  You don't need the additional EFT.  You can also put on a fan if it is summer.

8)  Do not drink coffee or black tea after lunch and do not drink alcohol directly before bed.  Caffeine in the afternoon can keep you from a deep sleep.  One and I mean one (one beer or 4 ounces of wine) alcoholic beverage with dinner shouldn't affect your sleep as long as you are having dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.  Having an alcoholic beverage right before bed such as a night cap will help put you to sleep but you will be waking up in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep.  Trust me on this one.

9)  If your mattress is too soft or old, get rid of it and buy one that is comfortable.  You spend 1/3 of your life in bed, buy a good quality mattress, bedding, and night wear. 

10) Lower the temperature in your house at night to no higher than 68 degrees.  I set mine at 65 degrees.  Cool air is better for sleeping.  Better to throw on covers than to sleep in a stuffy room.  You will also save significantly on your heating bill if you are currently setting your thermostat at 70 to 72 degrees.  Also, air out your bedroom everyday, even in the winter, if only for 5 minutes.  Our bedrooms tend to get stuffy in the winter, especially if you have pets.

11) You can also try the herbs Valerian (pill form) or Chamomile (tea form).  I haven't tried Valerian but I do use the homeopathic remedy Aconite Napellus (pellet form).  Aconite is for anxiety so it does calm me enough to sleep.  I do drink Chamomile tea occasionally.  Tryptophan is also known to help with sleep and is found in turkey and milk.  I don't drink milk or eat much turkey but if you do, please use organic for your health.  A small glass of milk before bedtime or turkey with dinner may help. 

12) 10 minutes of stretching or yoga just before bed helps me unwind and relax. 

13) No electronics 2 hours before bed (2 hour rule again!).  That means no TV, telephone, or most computer.  Computer is fine as long as you are just reading and writing.  Playing games or watching videos are a no no!  These activities stimulate your brain for hours after you stop.

14) If you've tried everything above and are still staring at the ceiling, you should see your physician.  You might have a sleeping disorder like sleep apnea or sleep walking.  If you have unresolved emotional issues and can't resolve them on your own, seeing a family therapist (psychologist or licensed family therapist) might be very helpful.

If anyone has any suggestions they have tried, please let me know and I will add them to my list. 

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