Rock-a-by-baby? Counting sheep? Warm milk? Well, if these are the things you are doing to get yourself to sleep, be prepared to learn a more simple way. It may seem, at two o’clock in the morning, that you’ll never get back to sleep. Somehow all of your problems surface and everything that’s been sitting in that head of yours begins to show itself and keeps your mind working instead of resting. But, you may just have more control than you imagine.
There are some very successful practices to assist in you getting the sleep you need; Methods that can definitely make a difference between restful sleep and irritable restlessness, even for those affected by jet lag, insomnia or a change in work schedule.
So, here are some simple changes you can make to get you started:
- Cut out caffeine after five
- Try to avoid alcohol and nicotine – If you are under the impression that alcohol helps you sleep, you are right. However, it works only for a few hours and there you are up again battling the increased number of times you awaken.
- Avoid all caffeinated products because caffeine can definitely decrease quality of sleep.
- Avoid pain relievers that contain caffeine.
- Your bedroom should be the place to sleep and nothing else. A dark, quiet and cool bedroom will aid you getting to sleep. Ask a bat! Right? That’s why they assemble in caves for daytime sleep.
A quiet place with drapes closed, no computer and television off can be the best promoter of sound slumber. It’s important to note that your mattress should be comfortable, remembering that most mattresses do have a lifetime limit and it’s usually eight to ten years. Once you practice this nightly, you will be prepared to sleep. Your body will know that each night you take these steps, it is time to sleep.
Just before bed, maybe an hour or so, spend time relaxing. Maybe a bath can be soothing, or watching one of your favorite shows on television, and maybe even relaxation exercises will help. Avoid work or discussions on an emotional level.
Additional tips include:
- Make it a point to go to bed when you are truly, truly tired. If you wait, you more than likely will get a second wind and the struggle to sleep will begin.
- Reading or listening to music sometimes acts like a sleeping aid.
- Relax…stressful activities and problems can secrete a hormone called cortisol It’s a stress hormone that is not your friend at bedtime.
- Avoid watching the clock. It actually increases stress.
- If, in the middle of the night you find yourself awake and really can’t get back to sleep, you might want to get up and read or listen to music. Keep the lights low. When you eyelids begin drooping, it’s time to sleep.
- Keep a consistent schedule for sleep just as you have for waking up. You see, going to bed and waking up on a set schedule sets the internal clock in the body. Your body will begin to accept that at a certain time it must be ready to sleep and at another time, it must be ready to wake.
- To nap or not to nap – Now that’s a good question. If you really feel the need to nap, it’s best to make it a cat nap and before five o’clock. But does it seem feasible to nap during the day when you have a problem getting to sleep at night? Only you can answer that.
- Reduce fluid intake. Your bladder turns into your little enemy when it wakes you up in the middle of the night for a trip to the bathroom.
It’s a fact that exercise is a benefit. However, if it’s something that you do avidly, try positioning your exercise time early. In this way, it will help promote restful sleep and your sleep will be a more soundly one. If possible, end the exercise at least three hours before bedtime, because that old hormone cortisol that stimulates the body will pop up and wake your brain. Back to square one.
Try following through once you get your schedule down. Keep the routine going. If you stick to them, your chances of peaceful and restful nights will become a routine and improve tremendously. Having said that, keep in mind that not all sleep problems are going to be easily solved or treated. In that case, you may want to follow up with a physician in the event you are suffering from a sleep disorder such as restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea or narcolepsy.
Give it a try. You may be surprised of how easy your brain can fall into a routine pattern. Sleep tight!