Dos and Don’ts to Combat Insomnia

baby-137198686706R“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.”

David Benioff City of Thieves

Me too. So what’s a poor insomniac to do? Back by popular demand, I offer you the following Dos and Don’ts for some sleep strategies that really work.

DO . . .

• Keep a regular sleep schedule: wake at about the same time every morning and avoid “sleeping in” on weekends or when you have a bad night.

• Develop a relaxing bedtime routine to help your mind and body wind down from the day. Soak in a hot bath, listen to soothing music, read for pleasure in low light.

• Use the bed only for sleeping or sex, or you risk weakening the association of bed with sleep. So no computer, television, texting, talking on the phone, eating or work.

• Limit your bed partners. Human and/or pet partners may offer a sense of comfort, but their presence can also disturb sleep. Work out the arrangement best for you.

• Get a 30-45 minute dose of morning light (before 9:00) to maintain your natural sleep/wake cycle. Walk the dog, exercise, do an outside chore or eat breakfast by a window.

• Exercise regularly for physical and emotional wellness, and sound sleep. Morning exercise is ideal, but anytime is fine so long as it preserves your bedtime relaxation routine.

DON’T . . .

• Eat too much too close to bedtime, and avoid stimulants such as nicotine, sugar and caffeine. Tryptophan-rich or complex carbohydrate snacks are okay.

• Drink alcohol before bedtime. Drinking even a moderate amount of alcohol close to bedtime lowers melatonin production, increases adrenaline and disrupts sleep throughout the night.

• Stay in bed if you can’t sleep. Get up after 15-20 minutes, go to another room and engage in a non-stimulating activity such as reading, meditation or body relaxation. Return to bed only when you feel drowsy.

• Watch the clock. Estimate the amount of time passing without sleeping rather than continually checking. Set the alarm if you’re worried about not waking on time.

• Nap until you’ve improved your sleep schedule. A 20-minute nap halfway through the day can refresh without interfering with nighttime sleep, but only when your sleep schedule is in line.

What about you? Use the comment space below to let us know how these tips have worked for you, or to suggest other tips you might have come across in your search for the perfect night’s sleep.

And, if you continue to have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, don’t hesitate to contact me at Omaha Sleep Therapy for some additional strategies and supports that really work.

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