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Do you have problems falling asleep, staying asleep, or not feeling rested when they wake up?Everyone requires a different amount of sleep, so it is less about how much sleep you get, than how you feel when you are sleeping. Disturbance in your sleep can significantly affect quality of life causing daytime fatigue, forgetfulness, mood symptoms (irritability, anxiety, and depression), decreased concentration and motivation, and making frequent mistakes.
If you follow these basic principles it can significantly improve your quality of life. The biggest hurdle is adhering to them – although they seem simple, most of us tend to ignore them.
Regular exercise helps deepen sleep. But be sure to avoid strenuous activity at least 2 hours before bed as this can keep you up.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time
If you are having a hard time falling asleep consistently, it is especially important to set a regular wake up time. If you keep waking up at the same time, eventually the need to fall asleep earlier will catch up with you. If you can’t sleep at night, avoid daytime naps so that you are tired at bedtime.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine 4-6 hours before bed
Alcohol may make you feel sleepier, but as your body metabolizes it, and your blood alcohol levels drop, there is a stimulating effect that wakes you up.
Try limiting caffeine intake to the morning only. Also, don’t forget, chocolate has caffeine in it too! So don’t eat chocolate for dessert at dinner.
Avoid food 2-3 hours before bed
Also avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary food 4-6 hours before bed! If you’re having difficulty sleeping, it might be a time to evaluate your diet in general.
Adjust your sleeping environment
Make sure your bed is cozy. Get the temperature right. If it’s too hot or too cold you won’t sleep well, a cool (but not cold) temperature is the best for sleep. Limit background noise or try wearing earplugs.
Your Bed is for Sleep and Sex Only
Don’t confuse your body by doing other activities such as reading, work, or watching TV in bed. When getting ready for bed practice relaxation techniques. Meditate, listen to soothing music or guided visualizations. Don’t take your worries to bed. Try completing any tasks or work before bed, so you don’t stay up thinking about them.
Avoid using your computer, TV, smart phone or tablet before bed
Studies have shown that the brightness and light wavelength range of these devices inhibit production of melatonin, an important hormone that initiates sleep.
What if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep?
If you can’t fall back asleep within 15–20 minutes, Get Up. Trying to fall back asleep when you can’t doesn’t do you any good. Get up and do a quiet calming activity. Meditate, have a snack, read, take a bath (remember — no TV, computer, smart phone, or tablet!). Most people will get sleepy again within 20 minutes of being out of bed.
Getting the sleep you need will give you a better quality of life. Sweet dreams!
Has it been a while since your last visit to a holistic clinic? Contact Dr. Linda at 773-385-9432
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