Have you ever felt like a good night’s sleep is simply out of reach for you? Do you have difficulty falling asleep, finding yourself tossing and turning, counting sheep, or sleeping fitfully?
If you are like me, then you have probably experienced sleepless nights, in fact most people have experienced what’s known as acute insomnia, or brief periods of difficulty sleeping due to stress or life events. However, chronic insomnia as defined by the National Sleep Foundation, is difficulty sleeping or falling asleep and happens at least three nights per week for three months or longer. The National Institutes of Health estimates that roughly 30 percent of the general population complains of sleep disruption. The NIH also estimates that half of adults over the age of 60 are affected with sleep difficulties.
If you suffer from insomnia, it is likely that sleep has become a source of stress for you. Here are just a few tips to help you re-examine your daily and nightly routines.
1. Make Your Bedroom Restful. Take the time to prepare your room for sleep. Make sure it is cool and dark. Having your bedroom neat and clean helps your room feel inviting and restful. Invest in a quality mattress and pillow
2. Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, even on days where you don’t have to be up as early. As you prepare for bed, follow a relaxing routine. Whether it’s taking a bath or listening to quiet music, find a calming ritual that can begin to wind you down before bedtime. Keep activities, such as TV watching, out of the bedroom.
3. Plan Your Day. Your day activities become crucial to your nightly sleep. Exercise daily, although avoid exercising too close to bedtime. Avoid caffeine late in the afternoon and don’t eat a heavy dinner. Monitor your fluid intake in the evening to ensure you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
4. Keep a Sleep Diary. Take a couple weeks to chart your daily and nightly patterns. Perhaps you notice that sleep is particular elusive before the start of a work week, before a doctor’s appointment or after a stressful day. Keeping a sleep diary can help shed light on certain patterns. The National Sleep Foundation provides a sleep diary which is a great resource to get you started.
If your trouble sleeping persists, talk to your physician about it. Remember to bring a copy of your sleep diary with you.
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