Tag Archives: insomnia

Tips on How to Sleep Better

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One of the biggest boosts you can give your brain is a good night’s sleep.  Adequate sleep is vital to proper brain function.  Without it — our judgment, reaction time, memory and other brain functions may be impaired.  According to Dr. Mark Mahowald, a professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, one night of lost sleep has the same impact in simulated driving tests as illegally high blood-alcohol levels.

Turn in early to give yourself 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night (this is considered average, though some people may need as few as 5 or as many as 10 hours.)  For many, falling asleep is a challenge.  Anxiety, stress, pain, interpersonal conflicts and medication all impact one’s ability to get a good night’s sleep.  Luckily, sleep is a learned behaviour and you can change it.

7 Suggestions to Improve Your Sleep

  1. Cut down on caffeine - Even if you don’t stop it completely, reducing makes a difference.
  2. Get more exercise - Walk daily, you will notice a difference immediately.
  3. Listen to a soothing CD before bed.  Or try white noise to create a background.
  4. Take a warm bath before bed.
  5. Maintain a regular schedule. Going to bed and getting up around the same time help you develop a rhythm that can make falling asleep easier.
  6. Spruce up your sleeping area. A comfortable mattress, comfortable bedding and blackout curtains can make a world of difference.
  7. Use the bed for sleep, not channel or Internet surfing.

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I Cannot Sleep!

For nearly 30 million Americans and many more around the globe sleep disorder is an unfortunate reality. Everyone needs to get enough sleep to feel rested and energetic throughout the day. For most this means at least six hours a night and at least 8 or more for teenagers and children.

Sleep is a very important behavior that is supersensitive to many things that can disrupt it. Pain, rumination, anxiety, mood disorder, new surrounding, uncomfortable temperature, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and medication side effects can all disrupt a normal night sleep. Sleep disorders can also lead to depression, cognitive processing deficits and even more serious problems such as narcolepsy (sudden sleep) that can result in motor vehicle accidents.

Sleep disorders can be confronted and treated with the following approach:

1. Identify that you have a sleep disorder, particularly if you notice your sleep pattern has changed, you are exhausted throughout the day, or you are dozing off at inappropriate times during the day.

2. Get a sleep assessment done to rule out physiological causes the potential disorder.

3. If pain is the cause of the sleep disorder, consult with your M.D. to obtain a more effective means of coping with the pain.

4. For those who are anxious or ruminate while in the bed consider the following steps:

  • Set a strict time to go to bed and a strict time to arise.
  • Do not nap during the day and exercise daily.
  • No caffeine after lunch.
  • Refrain from T.V., reading, or other cognitive activity in bed.
  • Set the temperature in the room to cool.
  • Try to fall asleep within 20 minutes of lying down.

If you do not fall asleep, get out of the bed and sit in a designated “worry chair” where you permit your brain to ruminate.

Once you believe you have ruminated enough try to return to the bed and fall asleep within 20 minutes. Repeat the same process if you do not fall asleep.

It is also a good idea to write down what you are thinking so you can view your anxiety rather than simply feeling it.

5. Drink a warm glass of milk prior to going to sleep.

6. Use white noise if it helps.

7. Eat healthier and lose some weight within reason.

8. Consult with your M.D. to assess the need for medication as a last resort.

Good Night.