A number of daily and nightly habits will enhance your ability to fall asleep:
• Hot bath. Take a hot bath before bed.
• Cool room. Keep your bedroom cool.
• Caffeine-free. Don't consume caffeine after 4:00 pm.
• Alcohol early. Don't consume alcohol near bedtime.
• Snack to snooze. Have a light high-protein snack before bedtime. Hunger and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) cause insomnia in all animals, and humans are no exception. Eat a 1-2 oz. high-protein snack at bedtime to see if this helps sleep (a hard-boiled egg, nuts, cheese, turkey or other meat).
• Bedroom, not office. Don't use your bedroom for problem solving or work.
• Ignore the clock. Put the bedroom clock out of arm's reach and facing away from you, so you can't see it. Looking at the clock frequently aggravates sleep problems — and it's frustrating!
• Solve snoring. If your partner snores, sleep in a separate bedroom (after tucking in or being tucked in by your partner). Or get a good pair of earplugs and use them. The wax plugs that mold to the shape of the ear are often best.
• Better bladder control. If you frequently wake up to urinate during the night, don't drink a lot of fluids near bedtime. Unfortunately most pain patients wake up during the night because of the pain or because their sleep center isn't working properly. Because they also have a full bladder, they think they're waking up because they have to urinate. But this is not the case. They are waking up because of their pain syndrome. The following is a simple way to remedy this problem:
If and when you wake up during the night and notice your bladder is full, just talk to it (in your mind, so your spouse won't think you're nuts). Say, "Nighttime is for sleeping. We will go to the bathroom in the morning, when it is time to wake up." Then roll over and go back to sleep.
If you still have to urinate five minutes later, go to the bathroom. Most of you will find that your bladder will happily go back to sleep — and when you wake up in the morning you won't even have to urinate as badly as you did when you woke up in the middle of the night.
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