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How to get a good night's sleep
  1. Your bedroom environment should he a calm one. Remove televisions, as well as piles of books, magazines and laundry.

    If you live in a noisy neighbourhood buy a white noise generator, or a table fountain. Running a small fan works well. If those don't work, get a good pair of earplugs.

  2. Make your room as dark as possible. Draw your blinds or drapes to block light from the street. Turn your digital clock face around so you can't see the bright numbers.

  3. Research shows you'll sleep better in a room that is not too cold nor too hot. Turn the thermostat down to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, 19 Celsius. Use enough blankets to stay warm but not so many that you start to sweat.

  4. Regular exercise e.g. walking, helps to maintain a healthy sleep pattern. . Avoid vigorous exercise for 3-4 hours before bedtime.

  5. To prevent the night time urge to urinate, avoid drinking anything less than an hour before bedtime. If you're prone to a dry mouth, use a lip balm e.g. Chapstick and run a humidifier in your bedroom.

  6. Eat your last meal three to four hours before bedtime. If you are prone to waking up between 2 and 3 a.m. it may be due to a drop in blood sugar levels. About 45 minutes before bedtime, have a small protein and complex carbohydrate snack e.g. whole grain bread with almond or peanut butter.

  7. Develop a calming pre-bedtime ritual. An hour before bedtime, read (not a murder mystery!!!), listen to calming music, take a warm bath or drink a cup of warm milk. Not only is the beating and drinking of the milk a calming ritual, but milk has small amounts of the sleep-inducing substance trytophen!!!

  8. Use your bed for sleeping and sex only. Do not read in bed, watch television, play computer games, etc.

  9. Stick to a set bedtime and wake -up time. This will aid your body in developing and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule. It may he hard to do at first but persevere and your sleep patterns will return to a healthy pattern.

  10. If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes and you get restless, get up out of bed and go to another room. Listen to calming music or read in low light until your restlessness is less evident. Then return to your bedroom. Don't train your brain to associate your bed with "tossing and turning".

  11. Practice deep breathing exercises to calm the mind. Lie in your bed in your normal sleeping position with your eyes open. Inhale deeply then slowly exhale. Stay focused on your breath. Then allow yourself to breathe normally. Close you eyes and focus on how each breath flows in and out of your body. Notice your muscles releasing tension. If your thoughts stray, refocus them on your breathing. Do this until you fall asleep.

    You may need to practice this technique before it is fully functional for you. If you are used to allowing your thoughts to stray, or "catastrophizing", or ruminating, practice will allow you to use this technique effectively to calm your mind.

    Some people find it helpful to get up and write down their ruminations They use affirmations afterwards e.g. "I will deal with all this in the morning", to calm their thoughts Some find it helpful to set out a plan of action for the morning e.g. "I will call X myself and talk about the situation."

  12. If you are napping through the day, you are most likely sleep deprived. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier every other day until your deprivation symptoms disappear. That will be the amount of sleep you need to be well. We all have different sleep needs. Although most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, some need more. Don't compare yourself to others.

  13. If you are prescribed medication to help with your sleep pattern, take it as prescribed.

  14. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, DECREASE CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION!!! That includes soft drinks, coffee, teas, hot chocolate, and chocolate bars. Check the labels of products to look for any hidden sources of caffeine.

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2012 September 16