Keep a regular sleep schedule. You need to get in sync with your body’s natural sleep and wake cycles; this is one of the most important tips we can offer for getting a good night’s sleep. Keeping a regular sleep schedule – even on the weekends, holidays and vacations – will help you feel more refreshed and energized during the day. Altering your sleep schedule by even an hour or two can throw off your body’s natural sleep rhythm – your circadian rhythm.
• You should keep to a regular bedtime
• Wake up at the same time daily
• If you lose sleep, try to make up for that lost sleep by taking a daytime nap
• Nap wisely. Taking a nap can help you recharge your batteries but be warned, it can also make insomnia worse. If you suffer insomnia, avoid napping.
• Drowsy after dinner? Fight that drowsiness by taking a walk, visiting a friend, or undertaking light exercise.
Develop a relaxing pre-bedtime routine. Get yourself mentally prepared for bedtime with some relaxing techniques. If your body and mind understand you’re getting ready for bed that signals your brain that it’s time to wind down for the day.
• Use your bed for sleeping and sex only. Don’t bring your laptop into bed, balance the checkbook or talk on the phone.
• Keep the television and radio off. If you need background noise, invest in a fan or a white-noise machine.
• Before bedtime, take a warm bath, listen to soft music, read a light book or magazine.
• Work on your favorite craft project.
Leave anxiety and stress at the door. If you lay in bed and toss and turn, worrying about projects not completed, family stress or other nagging items, you will find it difficult to sleep. Figure out what is keeping you up at night so you can address that anxiety during the day. Some people find it helpful to write down what’s worrying them – they find it frees their mind from running through scenarios and they know they can look into the source of the stress the following day.
• Practice deep breathing
• Visualize yourself in a peaceful, calm environment
• Concentrate on progressive muscle relaxation. Tense, and then relax, your muscles – starting at your toes and working your way up
Don’t worry about sleep! Short bouts of insomnia are nothing to worry about and if you have a few episodes of waking during the night, it is likely nothing to worry about. Here are a few tips, to help you fall back asleep.
• Don’t stress about a brief period of wakefulness
• Undertake a non-stimulating, quiet activity. If you’ve been lying there for more than 15 minutes, it may be time to get up and do a quiet activity. Eat a light snack, sip some herbal tea, flip through the pages of a magazine
• Keep your body – and mind – relaxed. “Counting sheep” truly does work because it focuses your mind on a repetitive activity
Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help. What you eat, and how much you exercise, during the day can play a role in your slumber.
• Avoid alcohol before bedtime. While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it also reduces the quality of your rest.
• Avoid big meals at night. Spicy foods can cause heartburn, fatty foods take a lot of energy for your body to digest and that could keep you awake.
• Quit smoking. Because nicotine is a stimulant, it will disrupt your sleep.
• Limit caffeine intake. Caffeine can cause sleep problems up to 12 hours after you’ve imbibed.
• Don’t drink too many liquids before bedtime, if you do, you’ll be making frequent bathroom visits.
• Eating a light snack before bedtime can help you sleep. Try granola with low fat yogurt, half a peanut butter sandwich, a banana, a cup of chamomile tea.
• Exercise regularly. Try to get at least 20 to 30 minutes of daily activity. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
Make sure your bedroom is a haven for sleep. Remember, it’s not just the quantity of sleep, but the quality.
• Use white noise. As a general rule, people sleep better in complete quiet, but for those who can’t, white noise can help.
• Keep your bedroom cool. Sleeping in a bedroom that is around 65 degrees is optimal. Also, keep your bedroom dark as that helps promote a more restful sleep. Use curtains to block out the outside lights.
• Is your bed comfortable? If you find sleeping to be a pain – literally – you may want to invest in a new mattress.
If all else fails, know when it’s time to consult a sleep professional. If you feel like you’ve tried everything and you still can’t sleep it might be time to consider an appointment with a sleep doctor. If you find yourself suffering from loud snoring punctuated with pauses in breathing, ongoing fatigue and daytime sleepiness, waking up with a headache, waking up feeling not refreshed, and if you have persistent difficulty falling, and staying, asleep, it may be time to sign yourself up for a sleep study.
Remember to give yourself a week or two to determine what your optimal sleep schedule is. Experiment with bedtime and wake-up times. Pick a bedtime and stick with it and let yourself wake up without the aid of an alarm clock – see what your natural wake rhythm is. You will hopefully discover your optimal, natural sleep schedule.
Since 2002, Valley Sleep Center has provided Arizona with diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for their patients. Their physicians are Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists and are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. They provide diagnostic testing for a multitude of sleep-related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, sleepwalking, and pediatric sleep problems.
For more information contact Valley Sleep Center at 480-830-3900.