Problems with sleep is one of the number one symptoms and complaints we hear in therapy. Below are some tips to help you work into a good sleep routine.
- Taking a hot bath or shower before bed will increase your body’s core temperature and help you relax.
- Avoid caffeine after 10:00 am. If you need to have coffee or soda try to confine it to early morning giving time for the stimulating effects to wear off before bed. Try to avoid foods that have caffeine such as apples and chocolate.
- Avoid naps during the day. Even though they feel good at the time, this will catch up with you when you crawl into bed and find yourself awake and refreshed from your nap earlier.
- Use relaxation strategies. There are countless books and tapes that teach a variety of methods from breathing exercises, to metal exercises, to progressive relaxation. Find one that works for you and use it before and while getting into bed.
- Carbohydrates can be helpful for sleep. Having some toast, cereal, or popcorn before bed can help promote sleep.
- Avoid nicotine. If you smoke, try not to have any cigarettes 2-3 hours before bed. Nicotine feel psychologically relaxing to many people, but it is actually physically stimulating and causes veins and arteries to constrict, making your heart and body work even harder; i.e., arousal.
- Exercise 4-5 hours before bed. Mild to moderate exercise promotes sleepiness later, whereas intense exercise, or exercise just before bed can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Avoid using your bed for reading, talking on the phone, watching TV or writing. The brain can get psychologically conditioned for a certain level of mental alertness in particular settings. We want your brain to be conditioned to relax and fade off to sleep in this setting, not wake up and prepare for activity.
- Use of “white noise” machines, a fan, or very soft soothing music can promote a sense of relaxation for some people. These rhythmic sounds can block out other background noises in your home that vary in pitch and may alert you.
- Developing a relaxing ritual 20 minutes before bed can help relax both the mind and body. Some people use meditation, listening to music or other relaxation techniques to prepare the body for rest.
Practice is a must. Do not expect instant results. Change does not happen overnight. Give your mind and body time to get comfortable with some of these techniques and over time develop some good sleep habits. If your sleep problems persist beyond a couple months of these efforts, you would be recommended to see your physician and request a referral to a sleep clinic to be assessed for a sleep disorder. Unresolved issues and stressors can also keep your mind awake when you want to sleep. If you need help working through issues, call us today for help: 763-416-4167.
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