“I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.” How I wish I could utter those words! But like many people, falling asleep each night has always been difficult for me. I've usually got too much on my mind, and just can’t relax. But there are ways to increase your chances for a good night’s sleep.
1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Going to bed at the same time each night sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to “power down” and helps promote better sleep at night. There's a catch, though. If you don't fall asleep within about 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing.
2. Exercise regularly, but not before bedtime. Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster and to enjoy deeper sleep. But timing is important --too much vigorous activity close to bedtime will just keep you charged up.
3. Avoid naps, but if you really need one, limit it to half an hour, before 3 PM.
4. Limit your caffeine consumption to 8 hours before bedtime. You’d like to be asleep by 10, but that cup of coffee you had around 4 PM might keep you up until midnight. Also limit how much you drink before bed, to prevent disruptive middle-of-the-night trips to the toilet.
5. Lavender has long been thought to have calming properties, and you can apply it
in many ways, from rubbing lavender lotion on your body, to having lavender
scented oil in the bedroom, or—at the risk of sounding like your great, great
aunt—to keeping a lavender-filled sachet folded in your pillowcase.
6. Start lowering the lights an hour before bedtime, letting your body know that
sleep is on its way. Read a book, or listen to soothing music. Relaxing activities can promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.
7. If you’re in bed, and still not asleep after 30 minutes, tossing and turning will only increase anxiety. Get up and read a book, but don’t pick up “In Cold Blood,” or “The Exorcist.” Try to choose something a little dull. Have a cup of caffeine-free tea, and listen to soothing music. If all else fails, drink warm milk and watch cable news
Do you have any bed-time rituals that help you get a better night’s sleep?
Photo: Allan Lee
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