Don't just toss and turn in bed
when you are having trouble sleeping.
Get up and do something Boring!
- Make sure you get enough daylight so that your body will be able to establish a daily wake-sleep rhythm.
- Some people have found commercially-available light boxes to be helpful, especially if you live in a location where there is less sunlight during certain seasons of the year. This lack of sunlight can lead to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (more popularly known as "cabin fever"), characterized by periods of depression and interference with regular sleep patterns.
- Keep the bedroom dark and quiet. Darkness causes the body to produce melatonin, a natural sleep-inducing agent.
- Don't play on the smartphone, the computer, or watch television. They all give off light which suppresses the melatonin in your system and overstimulates the brain,
- Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Trying to get by on less than this biologically-determined amount builds up a sleep debt which cuts into your well-being and efficiency, and becomes harder and harder to repay.
- Establish a consistent sleeping schedule. People tend to become sleepy 24 hours after they last went to sleep, and awaken 24 hours after they last woke up. Significant changes in either time -- especially shift work schedules which frequently change -- disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.
- If your sleep is troubled by nightmares, or if you have personal problems which prevent you from getting the sleep you need, you may want to consider seeking professional assistance.
- Have a set ritual before going to bed.
- Limit the amount of food you eat for the last two hours before you go to bed.
- Limit your daily use of caffeine, or eliminate it entirely. Using coffee or tea, or other drinks which are high in caffeine only makes it harder to repay your sleep debt.
- Exercise regularly, preferably in the morning.
- If possible, adopt a life style which reduces your total amount of stress.
- While most of us prefer not to use prescribed sleep medications, millions of people do use them regularly without ill effects. Melatonin, the favorite of many, is available without prescription. Others prefer nutraceuticals such as St. John's Wort.
- We frequently do not notice the "aches and pains" in our bodies because we have grown so used to them, but they can still interfere with our sleep. Many clients find that taking a couple of aspirin or Tylenol work well, particularly when it is early in the morning and they do not wish to feel groggy from sleep medication the next day.
- Perhaps most importantly, use the bed only for sleeping and for sex. Instead of tossing and turning, get up and do something boring until you get sleepy. This helps you to avoid a conditioned association between not sleeping and being in bed.