Top 10 Tips For Sleeping ...by Stan Hyman, PhD, LCSW
If you sporadically have difficulty falling asleep, wake up too early, or wake up several times during the night, you likely have some form of transient insomnia.
Many of us have intermittent episodes of insomnia. Transient or short-term insomnia will often last no more than a week. It is frequently associated with some additional stress or change in everyday situation: an increase in performance expectation at work (deadlines), money problems, an injury or illness, returning from a vacation, staying up too late and becoming overtired or even jet lag.
In a drug oriented society where the easiest treatment for almost any ailment is popping a pill the sleep deprived masses will often reach for that remedy immediately. However it may not be necessary for sufferers of transient insomnia to become reliant on medication for relief.
If you are having trouble with transient insomnia the following tips can help you reshape the way you approach sleeping. Sleep tight!
Use your bed for sleep or sex.
If you are eating, working or watching television in bed…don’t! It has been found that many people who use their bed for multiple activities find it difficult settling down to sleep. It is best to condition yourself to using your bed for sleeping and sex only.
Keep you bedroom dark.
Melatonin, a hormone derived from serotonin, is secreted by the pineal gland especially in response to darkness and is linked to sleep. Make sure that all the light in your bedroom has been darkened, even the dials on your clock! Keep a regular schedule.
Try going to sleep at roughly the same time every night. The mind and body respond well to this type of rhythmic training.
Avoid alcohol before bedtime.
Although alcohol is a depressant, it often lightens the depth people reach during sleep.
Avoid sugars or caffeine.
Keep away from coffee, caffeinated teas or soda later in the evening. These beverages tend to alert rather than relax your system. Caffeine in particular can stimulate the nervous system for many hours.
Use comfort foods/drink.
Try eating foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin and is linked to better sleep. Foods like milk (warm at night), turkey, chicken, oats, sesame, cheese and fish eaten in moderate amounts can help the sleep process.
Regular exercise helps with controlling stress levels. Exercise several hours before bedtime if you can’t do it in the morning. A simple walk or swim can make all the difference.
Noise or no noise…
If you like complete silence then create a bedroom without noise. If you need some sound in the background to help you drift off buy a white noise machine or sound device. If you live where there is street noise then these devices can be very helpful.
If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep in 10-15 minutes, get up, read a book (a dull one if possible), listen to some mellow music or take a warm bath. Go back to bed when you feel drowsy again.
A cooler temperature will help you sleep. Don’t skimp on the air conditioning.