Nine Steps to a Good Night’s Sleep

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Not all of us are lucky enough to be able to fall asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.  Just like running a marathon, teaching our bodies to get a good night’s sleep requires training.  If you’re sleep deprived, these suggestions from U.S News are worth trying out to wake up bright eyed, fresh faced, and full of energy to take on the day.

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Good night? Good night! (Photo via Flickr)

1) Get some exercise. If you feel tired during the day, do not sit around and do nothing — go work up a sweat! It will wake you up for a few hours, then make you sleepy later on when it’s time for bed.

2) Do not nap. True, some lucky people can catnap during the day without affecting their sleep schedule, but if you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night, stay awake during the day. Avoid closing your eyes while watching TV or reading.

3) Make dinner your main meal. Eating a light breakfast and lunch will help you stay alert during the day. A big meal at night will help you get to sleep, but don’t eat right before bedtime. Give yourself a couple of hours so your digestive system is ready for sleep as well.

4) Wind down. Don’t do anything too stimulating for at least an hour before bedtime. Taking a warm bath can help ease tension and soothe muscles, whereas a shower tends to wake you up.

5) Set the environment. Most people sleep best in a cool room where the air is not too dry. Opening a window at night can help on both counts. You may want to use a humidifier, which also produces a white noise that some people find helpful.

6) Go to bed at the same time every night. You want to develop a routine. Walk the dog, brush your teeth, read a chapter of a book, and then turn out the light. You have a ritual for dinnertime that helps trigger your appetite. You should develop a ritual for bedtime to help you feel sleepy.

7) Make a list. If you’re fretting over some issue, or constantly reviewing things you have to do the next day, write down your concerns on a piece of paper or computer file. Once you’ve recorded your to-do list, give yourself permission to stop worrying about it.

8) Drink some warm milk. Milk has an essential amino acid, tryptophan, which stimulates the brain chemical serotonin, believed to play a key role in inducing sleep. Avoid alcohol. It might help you get to sleep, but will likely result in a shallow and disturbed sleep cycle — not to mention a headache in the morning.

9) Do not oversleep. Try to get up at the same time every morning, even if you couldn’t get to sleep the night before. Sleeping late resets your body clock and makes it more difficult to get to sleep the next night. If you wake up early, consider that maybe you’ve slept enough. Get up and start your day, avoiding the temptation to nap. Then, that evening, start your regular bedtime ritual.

Still can’t sleep? Don’t lie in bed and get mad. Haul yourself out of bed, go into another room, and engage in some quiet activity. No, not the TV, which is more likely to wake you up than put you to sleep. Take up your knitting, start a drawing, or play your guitar. Or try that old faithful: read a book.

By Julianna Gjonaj

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