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7 WAYS TO SLEEP BETTER TONIGHT

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on October 6, 2010

1 Make your bedroom sleep-friendly. Not only should your mattress be comfortable and your room dark, quiet and cool, you shouldn’t do anything except sleep or make love in there: No eating, working or watching TV. Light from screens signals your brain to stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin, so it takes longer to nod off.

2 Hide the clock. Or at least turn it away while you’re sleeping. Digital clocks are particularly bad because their precise readouts are constant reminders that the night is ticking away and you’re still awake, says Daniel McNally, M.D., medical director of the University of Connecticut Sleep Disorders Center in Farmington.

3 Spend less time in bed. “Most people spend more time in bed to try to increase their hours of shut-eye,” says Bruce Rybarczyk, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. But lying there awake breeds frustration. Instead, hit the pillow only for the hours that you are actually slumbering. This creates a greater desire for sleep so that when you finally do get in bed, you fall asleep faster and stay that way longer. As your sleep improves, you can gradually roll back your bedtime until you’re sleeping for a full night.

4 Don’t eat late. Eating at night affects levels of ghrelin, a hormone that regulates hunger and sleep. Ghrelin levels naturally rise in the evening, readying us for bed. But if we nosh at night our ghrelin levels drop so we don’t feel as sleepy. “One of the ways people keep themselves going until 1 A.M. is by eating late at night,” explains Craig Keebler, M.D., medical director of medical Weight Management at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

5 Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. These are notorious sleep-stealers. Nicotine is a stimulant, plus cigarette cravings can wake you up at night. The effects of caffeine can last up to seven hours, so switch to decaf after 3 P.M. Alcohol’s sneakier: It’s sedating, but because it leaves your system quickly, that can wake you up and cause trouble getting back to sleep.

6 Have a bedtime ritual. “You need a half-hour of unwinding time before bed,” says Aparajitha Verma, M.D., medical director of the Methodist Sleep Disorder Center in Houston. “You can’t be doing all these active things, then suddenly switch it off and expect to sleep. You have to prepare yourself. Read, meditate, listen to music, whatever calms you down before getting into bed.”

7 Clear your head. A steady diet of shock media will surely keep you up at night. So if you tend to ruminate on the world’s ills, avoid material that will bother you, advises Ralph Pascualy, M.D., director of Sleep Medicine Associates in Seattle. “As people get tired, problems become much larger.”

One way to deal with worries that keep you up is to write down your concerns along with some possible solutions. Things don’t look so dire when you see them on paper, notes Dr. Pascualy. This simple act allows your brain to let go of your fears so you can get some rest. ________________ Quoted/Excerpted from (or Resource Links): 7 ways to sleep better tonight. Family Circle magazine. December 2008. p134.

Stephen L. Knubley, Principal
Knubley Counseling, LLC

From CCA: Which of these items do you already practice in some form? Which one stands out as a potentially useful and new practice? Remember that it takes about 30 days of daily application of a single new behavior to condition it into a habit. See our handout: MAKING NEW HABITS for more valuable information. Copyright © 2000-2009 Knubley Counseling, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Rev 9-9-09

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