How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

How to get a better night's sleepCan’t Sleep? Help and Treatment for Insomnia

Not being able to sleep can be frustrating. Laying awake, watching the minutes tick by on the clock is more than annoying; if it happens a lot, lack of sleep can be dangerous to your health. A good night’s rest is important for physical and emotional well-being. And studies show that good sleep is associated with anti-aging as well.

Insomnia has been linked to depression, diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, heart problems, reflux, restless leg syndrome, chronic fatigue and even obesity, just to name a few.

So how do you know if it’s true insomnia or something else? Besides the obvious lack of time actually spent sleeping, there are several things to consider:

Signs you might not be getting enough good quality sleep:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble staying alert during tedious or monotonous activities

How much sleep do we need?

Most adults require an average of seven to nine hours of sleep a night. According to the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine, most people tend to sleep more lightly and for shorter amounts of time as they get older.

The idea that older people require less sleep is controversial. A newer trend in thinking is that we need the same amount of sleep at any age. Still, about half of most people over 65 have frequent sleeping problems. This could be a normal part of aging, or could be from medical problems that are common as we age or from other things, such as medications.

help for sleep problemsHelp for Sleep Problems

Sometimes adjusting a few simple things can improve sleep:

  • Stay active-maintain regular activity and moderate exercise
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night, even weekends
  • Spend some time outdoors during daylight hours each day
  • Avoid caffeine for at least 3 hours before bedtime, even longer if possible
  • Replace a worn mattress
  • Keep your bedroom cool, quiet and tranquil
  • Avoid alcohol. While it may make you sleepy, alcohol can cause you to wake earlier and sleep less
  • Avoid nicotine
  • Take a warm bath or shower before bed to help with relaxation
  • Eat a light snack of carbohydrates and protein an hour before bed

Medication

Over-the-counter sleep aids usually contain antihistamine (such as diphenhydramine) and help with occasional problems, but they may cause drowsiness or dry mouth the next day.

The newer prescription medications for insomnia are less likely to be addictive and can help with short or long term sleep problems. There are several options and they work differently.

chamomile tea to lessen sleep problemsNatural Remedies

Complementary practitioners such as Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D. have a personal preference for natural sleep aids. Some alternative remedies include:

  • Melatonin
  • 5-htp
  • Chamomile Tea
  • Lavender (oil or aromatherapy)
  • Kava Kava
  • Theanine
  • Valerian
  • Calcium, Magnesium, and B Vitamins are linked to relaxation
  • Massage, acupuncture, hypnosis, cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation techniques, light therapy or yoga may improve sleep problems

consult doctor about sleep problemsGet to the root of the problem

Understanding what is causing sleep issues is key to solving the problem. Over-the-counter remedies can help with short term sleep trouble, but if the problem continues, it’s a good idea to seek help. The best treatments are based on accurate diagnosis.

Your doctor may send you to a sleep clinic or a doctor that specializes in other types of medicine. Chronic insomnia can be treated by different medical specialties. Some physicians are certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine, which means they have mastered specific clinical skills in the practice of sleep medicine.

If your sleep problems last more than a month, talk with your doctor about treatment options to find out which one is right for you. A restful, rejuvenating sleep is one of the most important aspects to good health.

Learn to Sleep More and Better Every Night

Reduce Anxiety and Create a Schedule to Get More Sleep At Night

Most doctors agree that the average adult needs about eight hours of sleep, yet most adults are lucky to get six hours of sleep.

Between everything that needs to be done each day, tossing and turning, and daily worries, many people believe there just isn’t enough time for restful, healthy sleep. Some of the steps below can help to increase the quality and amount of sleep each night.

Go to Bed Earlier and Stick to a Schedule for a Better Night’s Sleep

Gradually increasing the time spent in bed each night will eventually lead to an increased time spent sleeping. If a person goes to bed even just 10 minutes earlier each week, they will gradually increase the amount of time they are in bed resting, and in a month, will spend at least 40 minutes more in bed each night – hopefully leading to an increase in time spent sleeping. And even if sleep does not come immediately, more time spent resting will be beneficial the next day.

Keeping a schedule is important to sleeping better, too. If a person goes to bed around the same time each night and gets up at the same time every day, the body will be conditioned to expect to be asleep between those hours. Stick to the schedule every day, even on weekends and days off, and the body will respond with a more fulfilling and restful night.

Remove Distractions from the Bedroom to Sleep Heavily

Bedrooms are for sleeping. They are not watching television, surfing the Internet, or doing laundry. A bedroom should be a safe haven, associated with restfulness and relaxation, and bringing a television or a computer into that safe haven can increase anxiety. If the body is conditioned to do little more than sleep in the bedroom, it will know exactly what to do when it comes time for sleep, and the mind will follow suit. Occupying the mind with distractions is detrimental to an easy sleeping environment.

If the body does not relax immediately and the mind runs wild, keep a journal or notebook on the nightstand. When an idea pops into the mind, write it down in the notebook and forget about it until the morning. Anxiety is the number one reason people cannot sleep at night, and if the idea is written down it can be forgotten until morning – a more appropriate time to deal with the problem – leaving more time for sleep.

Revamp the Bedroom for Better Sleep

Anxiety is the number one reason people cannot sleep at night, and the number two reason is too much light coming in through windows and doorways. Blackout window shades can be purchased to help reduce light from outside, and in addition, the shades also will help to reduce sound, as they are designed to absorb outside distractions.

Another reason why people often cannot sleep is that they need a new mattress. Many mattresses come with at least a 10-year warranty, but the average person will replace their mattress after only 7.8 years. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them are dust mites. Dust mites breed in mattresses, breaking down foam units and other components in the bed, making it feel different and uncomfortable over time. The goal is to spend one-third of the day in the mattress (eight hours) and thus one-third of the life. Therefore, a good mattress is one of the most important components for sleeping well.

Sleeping well is not a habit, but rather a lifestyle, and learning to sleep better will take time. Be patient and make a few simple changes at a time. If only one or two of these suggestions are followed, a person will find they are able to sleep better and for longer at night, hopefully increasing the overall quality of life. If all of the habits and suggestions are followed, a person will find themselves headed toward a sleeping makeover, thus changing their life.

 

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