The secret to getting a deep and relaxing sleep
By Chris Watts-Motion Dynamics
Using sleep to help you extend your life
Good sleep strategies are essential to deep, restorative sleep. By learning and trying out a variety of healthy sleep-promoting techniques, you can discover your personal prescription to a good night’s rest. The key is to experiment. What works for some might not work as well for others. It’s important to find the sleep strategies that work best for you. Try relaxation techniques for better sleep
Relaxation is beneficial for everyone, but especially for those struggling with sleep. Practicing relaxation techniques before bed are a great way to wind down, calm the mind, and prepare for sleep. Try this:
Deep breathing: Close your eyes—and try taking deep, slow breaths—making each breath deeper
than the last.
Progressive muscle relaxation: Starting at your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then
completely relax. Work your way up from your feet to the top of your head.
Visualizing a peaceful and restful place: Close your eyes and imagine a place a colour or an activity
that is calming and peaceful for you. Concentrate on how relaxed this place or activity makes you
Ways to get back to sleep:
It’s normal to wake briefly during the night. In fact, a good sleeper won’t even remember it. But if you’re waking up during the night and having trouble fal ing back asleep, the fol owing tips may help. Stay out of your head. The key to getting back to sleep is continuing to cue your body for sleep, so
remain in bed in a relaxed position. Hard as it may be, try not to stress over the fact that you’re
awake or your inability to fall asleep again, because that very stress and anxiety encourages your
body to stay awake. A good way to stay out of your head is to focus on the feelings and sensations in
your body.
Make relaxation your goal, not sleep. If you are finding it hard to fall back asleep, try a relaxation
technique such as visualization, deep breathing, or meditation, which can be done without even
getting out of bed. Remind yourself that although they’re not a replacement for sleep, rest and
relaxation still help rejuvenate your body.
Do a quiet, non-stimulating activity. If you’ve been awake for more than 15 minutes, try getting out of bed and doing a quiet, non-stimulating activity, such as reading a book. Keep the lights dim so as not to cue your body clock that it’s time to wake up. Also avoid screens of any kind—computers, TV, cel phones, iPads—as the type of light they emit is stimulating to the brain. A light snack or herbal tea might help relax you, but be careful not to eat so much that your body begins to expect a meal at that time of the day. Postpone worrying and brainstorming. If you wake during the night feeling anxious about
something, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone worrying about it until the next day when
you are fresh and it will be easier to resolve. Similarly, if a brainstorm or great idea is keeping you
awake, make a note of it on paper and fall back to sleep knowing you’ll be much more productive
and creative after a good night’s rest.
How much sleep you need? While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most
healthy adults need at least 8 hours of sleep each night to function at their best.
How to sleep better:
Set a regular bedtime. Go to bed at the same time every night. Choose a time when you normal y
feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. Try not to break this routine on weekends when it may be
tempting to stay up late. If you want to change your bedtime, help your body adjust by making the
change in small daily increments, such as 15 minutes earlier or later each day.
Wake up at the same time every day. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up natural y
without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time, you may need to set an earlier
bedtime. As with your bedtime, try to maintain your regular wake–time even on weekends.
Nap to make up for lost sleep. If you need to make up for a few lost hours, opt for a daytime nap
rather than sleeping late. This strategy allows you to pay off your sleep debt without disturbing your
natural sleep–wake rhythm, which often backfires in insomnia and throws you off for days.
Be smart about napping. While taking a nap can be a great way to recharge, especially for older
adults, it can make insomnia worse. If insomnia is a problem for you, consider eliminating napping. If
you must nap, do it in the early afternoon, and limit it to thirty minutes.
Fight after–dinner drowsiness. If you find yourself getting sleepy way before your bedtime, get off
the couch and do something mildly stimulating to avoid fal ing asleep, such as washing the dishes,
calling a friend, or getting clothes ready for the next day. If you give in to the drowsiness, you may
wake up later in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep.
Discovering your optimal sleep schedule.
Find a period of time (a week or two should do) when you are free to experiment with different sleep and wake times. Go to bed at the same time every night and al ow yourself to sleep until you wake up naturally. No alarm clocks! If you’re sleep deprived, it may take a few weeks to fully recover. But as you go to bed and get up at the same time, you’l eventually land on the natural sleep schedule that works best for you. Natural y regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin production is control ed by light exposure. Your brain should secrete more in the evening, when it’s dark, to make you sleepy, and less during the day when it’s light and you want to stay awake and alert. However, many aspects of modern life can disrupt your body’s natural production of melatonin and with it your sleep-wake cycle. Increase light exposure during the day.
Remove your sunglasses in the morning and let light onto your face. Spend more time outside during daylight. Try to take your work breaks outside in sunlight, exercise outside, or walk your dog during the day instead of at night. 30 minutes a day in the sun wil give you al the Vitamin D you need for bone growth , energy and organ function. Let as much light into your home/workspace as possible. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day. Move your desk closer to the window. Boost melatonin production at night.
Turn off your television and computer. Many people use the television to fal asleep or relax at the end of the day. Not only does the light suppress melatonin production, but television can actually stimulate the mind, rather than relaxing it. Try listening to music or audio books instead, or practicing relaxation exercises. If your favorite TV show is on late at night, record it for viewing earlier in the day. Don’t read from a backlit device at night (such as an iPad). If you use a portable electronic device to read, use an e-Reader that is not backlit, i.e. one that requires an additional light source such as a bedside lamp. Change your light bulbs. Avoid bright lights before bed, use low-wattage bulbs instead. When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. The darker it is, the better you’l sleep. Cover electrical displays, use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try an eye mask to cover your eyes. Use a flashlight to go to the bathroom at night. As long as it’s safe to do so, keep the light to a minimum so it will be easier to go back to sleep. Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
If you make a consistent effort to relax and unwind before bed, you will sleep easier and more deeply. A peaceful bedtime routine sends a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down and let go of the day’s stresses. Make your bedroom more sleep friendly
Make Sure Your Bed Is Comfortable.
Keep noise down. If you can’t avoid or eliminate noise from barking dogs, loud neighbours, city
traffic, or other people in your household, try masking it with a fan, recordings of soothing sounds,
or white noise. You can buy a special sound machine or generate your own white noise by setting
your radio between stations. Earplugs may also help.
Keep your room cool. The temperature of your bedroom also affects sleep. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room ( 24 C) with adequate ventilation. A bedroom that is too hot or too cold can interfere with quality sleep. I prefer fans to keep you cooler at night. It is more environmental friendly too. Make sure your bed is comfortable. You should have enough room to stretch and turn comfortably. If you often wake up with a sore back or an aching neck, you may need to invest in a new mattress or a try a different pillow. Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam or egg crate toppers, and pil ows that provide more support. Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex.
If you associate your bed with events like work or errands, it will be harder to wind down at night. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. That way, when you go to bed, your body gets a powerful cue: it’s time to nod off. Relaxing bedtime rituals to try:
* Read a book or magazine by a soft light * Make simple preparations for the next day Eat right and get regular exercise.
Your daytime eating and exercise habits play a role in how well you sleep. It’s particularly important to watch what you put in your body in the hours leading up to your bedtime. Stay away from big meals at night. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Fatty foods take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Also be cautious when it comes to spicy or acidic foods in the evening, as they can cause stomach trouble and heartburn. Avoid alcohol before bed. Many people think that a nightcap before bed wil help them sleep. While it may make you fall asleep faster, alcohol reduces your sleep quality, waking you up later in the night. To avoid this effect, so stay away from alcohol in the hours before bed. Cut down on caffeine. You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it! Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake. Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening. Drinking lots of water, juice, tea, or other fluids may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night. Caffeinated drinks, which act as diuretics, only make things worse. Quit smoking. Smoking causes sleep troubles in numerous ways. Nicotine is a stimulant, which disrupts sleep. Additionally, smokers actually experience nicotine withdrawal as the night progresses, making it hard to sleep. If you’re hungry at bedtime:
For some people, a light snack before bed can help promote sleep. When you pair tryptophan–containing foods with carbohydrates, it may help calm the brain and allow you to sleep better. For others, eating before bed can lead to indigestion and make sleeping more difficult. Experiment with your food habits to determine your optimum evening meals and snacks. If you need a bedtime snack, try: * A small bowl of whole–grain, low–sugar cereal You’l also sleep more deeply if you exercise regularly. You don’t have to be a star athlete to reap the benefits—as little as twenty to thirty minutes of daily activity helps. And you don’t need to do all thirty minutes in one session. You can break it up into five minutes here, ten minutes there, and still get the benefits. Try a brisk walk, a bicycle ride, or even gardening or housework. Lifting weights 3 times a week for 8 weeks people experienced a 23% improvement in sleep quality. The group doing this experiment fell asleep faster and slept longer than before they started lifting weights. Some people prefer to schedule exercise in the morning or early afternoon as exercising too late in the day can stimulate the body, raising its temperature. Even if you prefer not to exercise vigorously at night, don’t feel glued to the couch, though. Relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep. Get anxiety and stress in check:
Do you find yourself unable to sleep or waking up night after night? Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well. When you wake up or can’t get to sleep, take note of what seems to be the recurring theme. That wil help you figure out what you need to do to get your stress and anger under control during the day: If you can’t stop yourself from worrying, especially about things outside your control, you need to learn how to manage your thoughts. For example, you can learn to evaluate your worries to see if they’re truly realistic and learn to replace irrational fears with more productive thoughts. Even counting sheep is more productive than worrying at bedtime. If the stress of managing work, family, or school is keeping you awake, you need help with stress management. By learning how to manage your time effectively, handle stress in a productive way, and maintain a calm, positive outlook, you’ll be able to sleep better at night. Know when to see a sleep specialist.
If you’ve tried the tips above, but are stil struggling with sleep problems, you may have a sleep disorder that requires professional treatment. Consider scheduling a visit with a sleep specialist if you are stil troubled by any of the fol owing symptoms: * Persistent daytime sleepiness or fatigue * Loud snoring accompanied by pauses in breathing * Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep * Crawling sensations in your legs or arms at night * Inability to move while falling asleep or waking up *Physically acting out dreams during sleep Here are some sleep tips from the Mayo Clinic:
Feeling crabby lately? Or simply worn out? Perhaps the solution is better sleep. Think about all the factors that can interfere with a good night's sleep — from pressure at work and family responsibilities to unexpected challenges, such as layoffs, relationship issues or illnesses. It's no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive. Although you might not be able to control all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep. Start with these simple sleep tips. Stick to a sleep schedule:
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night. There's a caveat, though. If you don't fall asleep within about 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Go back to bed when you're tired. If you agonize over fal ing asleep, you might find it even tougher to nod off. Pay attention to what you eat and drink:
Don't go to bed either hungry or stuffed. Your discomfort might keep you up. Also limit how much you drink before bed, to prevent disruptive middle-of-the-night trips to the toilet. Nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine can take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc with quality sleep. Even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, it can disrupt sleep later in the night. Create a bedtime ritual:
Do the same things each night to tell your body it's time to wind down. This might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music — preferably with the lights dimmed. Relaxing activities can promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness. Be wary of using the TV or other electronic devices as part of your bedtime ritual. Some research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep. Get comfortable:
Create a room that's ideal for sleeping. Often, this means a cool, dark and quiet space. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs. Your mattress and pil ow can contribute to better sleep, too. Since the features of good bedding are subjective, choose what feels most comfortable to you. If you share your bed, make sure there's enough room for two. If you have children or pets, set limits on how often they sleep with you — or insist on separate sleeping quarters. Some insomnia cures you probably haven't seen before:
* Don't Watch TV or Read before going to bed And some new suggestions from readers who have found these remedies useful for their own

* Green Cows—and Other Animals of Colour Good luck! Have a pleasant sleep!



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