Insomnia: A Poll Response
So, the pole reflects that 1/2 of you have difficulty with sleeping on a regular basis. Thus I have decided to put out some suggestions and thoughts regarding sleep hygiene.
First, what is sleep hygiene? The National Sleep Foundation defines as:
Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness.
The best thing that you can do to get good sleep is to try to get yourself on a sleep schedule. This will suck during the process, but it is worth the effort. It can take your body as long as a month or two to establish a sleep routine. But that means you have to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. If you miss a day, it’ll make it take longer and will make it more difficult to adjust. Once you’re on a schedule: Keep it! It should only be on rare and truly nessary times that you break your schedule.
Spend the time in bed. Get your body use to the relaxing time. Set an alarm so that you will wake at the right time. Don’t hit the snooze. Get up when the alarm goes off. This requires decipline. But it is the best road to a better sleep experience.
Avoid napping during your awake time. Napping will break your wake and sleep cycle. It will make it harder to fall asleep when bed time comes which will make it so you don’t get as much sleep during your sleep time which leads to you feeling tired during your awake time which leads to another (and probably longer) nap and yeah, it’s a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.
Avoid stimulants in the 4 hours before your sleep time. Some common stimulants are alcohol, caffiene, nicotine and exercise. While alcohol will help you fall to sleep, it will not help you stay asleep and the sleep you get will be a lower quality. Exercise is good for you. However, it raises your heart rate and tells your body it’s time to go. So, do this during your awake time, as close to getting up as possible.
Food and water matter. Again, these are important and needed things. But there is a time for everything. Just before sleep isn’t the time! Keep in mind that some food and beverages have caffiene. Drinking a lot of fluids before going to bed will lead to a full bladder during your sleep time and make it more likely you will wake to go pee. Eat a light meal for your your meal before going to bed and have it 4 hours before sleep time. By light I mean something low in fat and protien.
Most people sleep better when it is dark. If you’re sleeping at night, turn out the lights. If you’re sleeping during the day there are several things you can do. Get yourself a good set of heavy, dark curtains to put over the windows in the room you sleep in. You can also try tin foil over your windows. Or sleep in a room that has no or few windows to start with.
Get some sun exposure. Research shows that daily exposure to the sun can help you get better sleep. For the night owls, this one is challenging. But try to stay up in the morning or get up early at night so you can get at least a 1/2 to an hour of sun each day. If this is not possible, consider buying the lights that mimic sun light so that you can sit under them once a day.
Make and keep a bed time routine. Do the same things before you go to bed and in the same order. Make sure the things you do in the hour before you go to bed are relaxing.
Leave your problems at your bed room door. Try using a journal to write your thoughts and concerns down an hour before you settle into bed. Then if you start having thoughts about these things, remind yourself that you already wrote them down and don’t need to think about it just then. Try guided imagery. It’s a great way to slip into the world of dreams.
Your bed should be used for sleep and sex. Nothing else. Your brain associates places with the activities you do there. If you want to associate your bed with relaxing activities then reserve it for sleep and sex. While sex is exercise, it floods the body with relaxing and pleasant hormones that are very helpful for sleep.
Set up a routine and schedule. Give it a month. If it isn’t working make a few changes and give it another month. And so on. If you keep trying you are more likely to find that magic combo that leads to a good sleep experience.