How did you sleep last night?
One of the most frustrating problems that many people face is how to get a good night's sleep. Some people can't seem to fall asleep, while others fall asleep quickly but wake up two or three hours later and can't get back to sleep.
If you don't have a thyroid problem, sleep apnea, epilepsy, or a substance abuse problem, and if you're not on any medication that distrubs sleep, you may be suffering from stress-induced insomnia.
Bill has been having trouble sleeping since he learned six months ago that his company is considering relocating. Because his wife has a good position with her company and his children are involved in their schools, he's not sure what he'll do if the company moves.
Bill can go to sleep, but several hours later he's wide awake. He has, with some success, tackled the problem. When he wakes up, he doesn't let his mind think of anything. Instead he concentrates on his breathing, slowly breathing in and out.
By focusing on his breathing, Bill can sometimes fall back to sleep. If sleep alludes him, he gets up and reads. Around 5 AM he goes back to bed and finds that he can catch a few more hours of sleep before the alarm sounds. By having such a plan, Bill keeps his stress about not sleeping under control.
Sandy also has trouble sleeping. She, like Bill, is able to fall asleep. But a short time later she's awake reviewing her upcoming divorce and thinking about how her husband left her for his secretary. No matter what she does, she can't sleep. Sandy's problem calls for a trip to her doctor to see if an antidepressant medication would help.
Marie thinks her insomnia is due to having too much to do. She works a full-time job and has three children under age seven. She rarely falls in bed before midnight, and then she's so tired she can't get to sleep. For Marie I've suggested not doing any chores after 10 PM. No matter what. By 11 she's in bed with a magazine and cup of hot milk and by 11:30 she turns off the light. This routine is starting to pay off; Marie is reporting less trouble getting to sleep.
Additional ideas for getting a better night's sleep:
• Exercise daily if possible. Some people who have sleep problems find it more helpful to exercise before evening sets in.
• Get up about the same time each morning. Even if you're dragging from no sleep the night before, stay on schedule.
• Stay away from caffeine after lunch and alcohol after dinner. Caffeine interferes with getting to sleep and alcohol interferes with staying asleep.
• Avoid naps. This only throws your sleep pattern off further.
• Keep your room cool and covers light. When people get too warm, they wake up.
• Try a white-noise machine or a fan. Both help muffle barking dogs and late night honking horns.
• If you're one of those people who always eats before going to bed, try a bowl of cereal, a glass of skim milk, toast with peanut butter or another carbohydrate.
• Never start a project like working on your tax returns or rearranging a closet an hour before bed.
• Don't begin discussing important life issues like money, moving, or remoldeling before bedtime. Save these talks for the daylight hours.
• Develop a routine -- a bath, a bowl of cereal, brushing and flossing teeth, prayers, a half-hour with your favorite book, and lights out.
Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World,” “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide,“ and “Thin Becomes You” at Doris’ web page: http://www.doriswildhelmering.com.
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