Sleep disorders are becoming more and more common in America. Research suggests that some 100 million Americans currently suffer from some form of insomnia. Add to these numbers the fact that sleep disorders have been linked to serious health issues, including diabetes, and maybe it's time to take a closer look at our own sleeping patterns and see how we might improve.
Beyond eliminating the usual suspects - caffeine, alcohol, smoking, napping during the day, etc. - there are a number of things we can do to promote good sleeping habits. The following are easy, drug-free ways to finally get a good night's sleep.
Your Bedroom is for Quiet Time:
For many people, the bedroom is more than just a place to sleep; it's a home office or a sort of entertainment center. They read, watch TV, pay bills, surf the net, and a million other things. However, by designating the bedroom specifically for sleeping, experts say that you can teach your body to recognize the bedroom as a zone reserved for restfulness and get more satisfying sleep.
Develop Bedtime Rituals and Routines:
If you have trouble sleeping, try to keep a regular schedule. This means going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Create a sleeping "ritual" that you repeat each night: read a book, listen to music, drink tea, etc.
Don't Eat Heavy Meals:
Experts recommend not eating anything heavy at least 2 to 3 hours prior to settling into bed. If you have to eat something, eat foods whose natural chemistry promotes sleep, like turkey, peanuts, or cereal and milk.
A great way to rid yourself of stress is to write it away. Jot down everything that's stressing you out on a piece of paper. Tell all of your problems that you don't have time to deal with them now, but that you promise to get back to them in the morning. This might seem silly, but research has shown this to be very effective for many people. Another great way to decrease stress is to turn your clock away from you. Some people can become more and more stressed with each hour as they focus on the clock and fail to fall asleep. If you're feeling anxious or stressed out, a big, bright clock glaring at you, reminding you of how little sleep you're getting, is the last thing you need.
Get Back to Sleep:
One of the toughest sleeping patterns to break is sleeping for a few hours, waking up, and not being able to fall back asleep. Experts suggest visualization as a tool to return to sleep, although that could trigger thoughts of work or other areas of your life that are hard to shut down. If you don't fall back asleep relatively quickly, get out of bed. Go into another room and relax. Don't watch TV or read anything that might be stimulating. Just relax, focus on an object, and think about peaceful things. If all else fails, have some warm milk.
If you can think of any more tips for getting a good night's sleep, please give me a call and share them with me.