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Self Help - Sleep


Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to sleep. Tossing and turning. Your mind is racing, going over everything that happened today. Noises keep you awake. What can you do? There are things you can do to get a restful night's sleep.

Sleep only when sleepy

This reduces the time you are awake in bed. If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy. Sit quietly in the dark or read the warranty on your refrigerator. Don't expose yourself to bright light while you are up. The light gives cues to your brain that it's time to wake up.

Don't take naps

This will ensure you are tired at bedtime. If you just can't make it through the day without a nap, sleep less than one hour, before 3:00 p.m.

Get up and go to bed at the same times every day

Even on weekends! When your sleep cycle has a regular rhythm, you will feel better.

Refrain from exercise at least four hours before bedtime

Regular exercise is recommended to help you sleep well but the timing of the workout is important. Exercising in the morning or early afternoon will not interfere with sleep.

Develop sleep rituals

It is important to give your body cues that it is time to slow down and sleep. Listen to relaxing music, read something soothing for 15 minutes, have a cup of caffeine-free tea, do relaxation exercises.

Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable

A hot room can be uncomfortable. A cooler room along with enough blankets to stay warm is recommended. If light in the early morning bothers you, get a blackout shade or wear a slumber mask. If noise bothers you, try wearing earplugs or introduce some "white noise," like a fan.

Stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at least 4-6 hours before bed

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Coffee, tea, cola, cocoa, chocolate and some prescription and non-prescription drugs contain caffeine. Cigarettes and some drugs contain nicotine. Alcohol may seem to help you fall sleep in the beginning as it slows brain activity but you will end up having fragmented sleep.

Only use your bed for sleeping

Refrain from using your bed to watch TV, pay bills, do work or reading, so that your body knows it's time to sleep when you go to bed. Snuggling is an exception.

Have a light snack before bed

An empty stomach can interfere with sleep but so does a stomach full from a heavy meal before bedtime. Dairy products and turkey contain tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer. Tryptophan is probably why a warm glass of milk is sometimes recommended.

Take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime

A hot bath will raise your body temperature but it is the subsequent drop in body temperature that may leave you feeling sleepy.

Use sunlight to set your biological clock

As soon as you get up on a sunny morning, go outside and turn your face to the sun for 15 minutes.

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