Wellness Blog: How to get better sleep

Most of us have had difficulty sleeping at one time or another. There are many factors that can affect the quality and length of our sleep: The changing seasons with the shortening of daylight hours along with keeping an irregular sleep schedule can affect our circadian rhythms; stress from work and relationships can make it difficult to fall asleep; drinking alcohol close to bedtime can cause awakenings in the night; even using electronic devices can affect the quality of your sleep.

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The following suggestions may help if you have been struggling to sleep or stay asleep.

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1. Maintain a sleep schedule (even on days off). I’m listing this as number one because this was the most difficult step for me to follow, personally. Try to wake up at the same time EVERY morning and go to bed at the same time each night. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and will, in time, contribute to a restful night’s sleep.

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2. Upon waking, immediately drink a full glass of water, even before your coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverage. When you wake up in the morning you are at your most dehydrated. Drinking water first thing may help reduce fatigue throughout the day and keep bowel movements regular. Simply keep a glass of water next to your bed when you go to sleep then drink it when you wake up. Develop this habit and you will begin to crave it every time you wake up! Try to get your fill of water as early in the day as possible to avoid waking up in the night to urinate.

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3. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. Choose an activity which avoids bright light and sets your mind at rest. Reading or meditating are a couple of my favorites.

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4. Avoid naps throughout the afternoon. This may seem like a quick fix for fatigue, but if you’re having trouble falling to sleep at night, napping could be the cause.

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5. Use bright light in the morning. Immediately upon getting out of bed, open the blinds and turn on the lights. Get as much sunlight as possible to help you wake up. This will support a healthy circadian rhythm.

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6. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. This can also be quite challenging when you feel so sleepy that you tell yourself “I feel like I’m going to fall asleep at any moment.” Do it anyway, then go back to bed when you are tired again.

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7. Use your bed for sleep and sex ONLY! Your bedroom should feel relaxing. Don’t sit in bed and work, surf the Internet, or watch TV.

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8. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening. Alcohol may help you feel sleepy, but after its initial effects wear off, it will make you wake up more often overnight. Nicotine is a stimulant and can cause insomnia. Big meals at night overload your digestive system, which affects how well you sleep.

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9. Block your clock. Do you glance at it several times a night? That can make your mind race with thoughts about the day to come, which can keep you awake.

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10. Know when to see your doctor. Let her know if your sleeplessness lasts for a month or more. She can check to see if a health condition — such as asthma, acid reflux, arthritis, or depression — or a medicine you take is part of the problem.

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2015-09-16T13:08:12+00:00 Uncategorized|