Friday, October 15, 2010

Overcoming Insomnia

One of my health goals has been to go to bed earlier each night. But there is one big problem I keep running into. INSOMNIA! If you've never had it, lucky you! But if you've been there, you know what I'm talking about. The tossing and turning, the endless chatter in your head, restless legs, etc. Since last night was another late night of insomnia, I was so pleased to find a blog post in the Facebook feed this morning on just this topic!
Barbara Floria wrote an article over on Pure Matters with the following tips:

Avoid stimulants
Downing beverages that contain caffeine—teas, coffee, soft drinks—diet drugs, and some pain relievers can keep you awake. Using nicotine in any form makes deep sleep a distant dream and can cause early morning awakenings because of nicotine withdrawal.
Limit your alcohol intake
Alcohol can make you sleepy but nixes deep sleep and restorative REM sleep.
Be consistent
Going to bed at a set time each night and getting up at the same time each morning can set your body clock.
Get physical
Daily exercise can help you sleep more soundly, as long as it’s not too close to your bedtime. Finish your workout about five or six hours before you hit the hay.
Take it easy
An hour or so before bedtime, read a book, knit, take a warm bath—anything you find relaxing can make it easier to fall asleep.
Keep cool
A dark, cool room is sleep-promoting. If you’re too hot or too cold, you’ll keep tossing and turning.
Avoid overindulgence
Late-night meals, high-fat foods, and huge portions keep your stomach—and you—awake. Light, early dinners are important to restful digestion.
Manage stress
If your worries are keeping you up at night, fight back by learning and practicing relaxation therapies, such as visualization, deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. If depression or anxiety is part of the equation, seek help from a mental health professional.
Be wary of sleeping pills
Just because you can get them over-the-counter doesn’t mean they’re safe or right for you. They can cause dependency and may interact with other medications. And taking them after an alcoholic drink or two can be dangerous. Anything more than occasional use should be a red flag to see your health care provider.
Get help
If the previous self-help tips leave you yawning, see your doctor. You could have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, or you may be taking medications that interfere with sleep. If your primary care physician can’t help, ask for a referral to a sleep specialist.
Most of these are common sense, but given that this has been a problem for me lately, I appreciate the reminder. These are the ones that stood out for me personally: 1. Be consistent (my natural self fights schedules, but I think it is defintiely something I need more) 2. Take it easy (I need to unplug from tv/computer to allow myself to wind down, no more late night blogging!) 3. Avoid overindulgence (I have the worst late night snacking urges) and 4. Manage stress (I need to get everything written down so that I don't have all of the must does floating around my head).

What works for you?

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