Tips and Techniques to Help You Get Your Z’s

At some point in time every one of us will experience a night of uninterrupted sleep, a night where you can’t fall asleep or when you do fall asleep you find yourself waking frequently.  One night of sleep deprivation will more than likely leave you feeling annoyed, and of course tired but many sleepless nights will begin to affect your life in negative ways.  If you suffer from insomnia you will probably notice that it has taken its toll on your personal life.  It will affect you at work, in your relationships and your health.  For all you insomnia sufferers out there try these tips to help you get your Z’s.

While you might not think that what you eat has an affect on how you sleep, think again!  Keep these eating tips in mind to help you have a restful nights sleep.

Many people use caffeine throughout the day to keep themselves going and they believe that as long as they don’t drink it right before bedtime it won’t effect them.  The truth is that the stimulants of caffeine have been found to stay in your body for up to six hours!  That means if you have your last jolt of caffeine at say five or even six you could possibly feel the effects of it until almost midnight!  If you feel you can’t give up that caffeine then discipline yourself to not drink it after lunch time.

If you find yourself one of the many people that believe alcohol helps you sleep better, think again.  Yes alcohol tends to make people fall asleep faster but it tends to interrupt your sleep.  You’ll find yourself waking up frequently through out the night.

Think back to Thanksgiving Day and the feast that you enjoy only to find yourself feeling tired afterwards.  If you indulge in turkey you’re eating a chemical called tryptophan which makes you sleepy.  Many other proteins also produce this chemical.  So before bed time try eating a little protein along with some complex carbohydrates and see if that helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.  If you like milk and can stand to drink it warm, a warm glass of milk also gives you the tryptophan chemical.

Most of us (me included) tend to save our ‘big’ meal for dinner time.  You will actually benefit more if you eat a bigger meal during the day and eat light at dinner.  Eating a large meal, or a lot of food, tends to provide energy (if you are eating the right things) causing you to feel awake.  A big meal at night can also provide a lovely case of indigestion which can make it impossible to sleep.  So rethink your dinner meal.  Try a small dinner and then have a bedtime snack instead.

Here are some tips for bedtime habits that will help you get to sleep better.

We all know that our kids have to go to bed at a certain time every night because if they don’t, they tend to be crabby and unhappy in the morning.  So what makes us think that as adults we don’t need the same sort of schedule?  Our bodies need a schedule at night (and even in the morning) so that it will develop a normal sleeping rhythm.  Start going to bed at the same time every night and then waking up at the same time every morning (this includes the weekends we tend to let ourselves sleep in!) and see what a difference it makes.

Our bodies seem to be set to autopilot for dark and light.  When it’s dark out we tend to know that it’s time for sleep and when it’s light out we know it’s time to be awake and up.  So it is only normal that if our rooms are light we won’t be able to fall asleep.  Make sure your bedroom is dark.  Turn off the TV; turn off all lights, etc.  A sleep mask can also help give you the darkness your body needs to sleep.  Make sure that once you wake up in the morning to expose yourself to bright lights or step outside and expose yourself to the sun.

Again think back to your kids and how you have a ritual you enforce every night before bed (brush teeth, read a book, say prayers, etc).   As adults we also need to have a ritual in place.  Following a nightly ritual will help you (and your body) develop a pattern.  Soon your body will know it’s time for sleep because it will be used to the bedtime ritual you have set in place.  This will help you fall asleep faster and easier.

Try to sleep only in your bedroom.  The living room can be too distracting with the TV, books, etc.  With that being said, try to keep your room free of distractions such as a TV, books, magazines or anything else that can be distracting.  If you keep your bedroom free of distractions and sleep only in your room it should help to keep your mind free of distractions and help you fall asleep easier.

Many people find that stress causes them to not be able to fall asleep due to their wandering thoughts at bedtime.  If you are one of the many people that have this problem, try these tips to help relax and calm down.

Pamper yourself in a nice warm bath.  Avoid water that is too hot because this can actually have a non relaxing effect, instead causing you to feel more awake.  A nice warm bath will help relax your whole body.  It helps to soothe those aches and pains that our muscles often feel at night.

As normal and simple as it is, most of us overlook it – deep breathing.  Try taking a couple deep breaths.  Deep breathing and visualization can help clear your mind and push stressful thoughts away.

Many people say that they watch TV or read at bedtime because it helps them fall asleep.  The myth here is that TV and reading are actually stimulating activities and often times you’ll find yourself thinking about what you just read or watched which will prevent you from falling asleep.  So avoid stimulating activities.

If you have tried these techniques and find yourself still having trouble falling asleep you might want to check into some herbal remedies.  And of course if you have exhausted all efforts and still find that you suffer from insomnia, it’s time to visit your doctor.

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