How to Get a Good’s Night Sleep without Using Sleeping Pills

Does this sound familiar? You toss and turn at night, unable to get to sleep. Or you wake up and can’t get back to sleep. Remember, doctors say that you need a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to be at your best the next day. It doesn’t matter if you’re 8, 18 or 80. And don’t reach for those sleeping pills – no matter how gentle the label says they are. Try these tips instead of pills to help you snooze away in a healthier manner.

• Get checked out by your doctor first – The reason you can’t sleep may have something to do with an underlying condition, like arthritis, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea or depression. Perhaps some of the medications you take, like beta-blockers for high blood pressure, or anti-depressants, or thyroid hormones, for example, are interfering with your sleep. Talk with your doctor about switching drugs, taking a lower dosage, or taking them at a different time of day.

• Get some exercise – Doctors are the first ones to tell you that exercise helps you sleep better. During sleep, your body uses the time to recuperate your exercised muscles and joints. Caution: Only exercise in the morning or early afternoon and not evening. That’s because exercise stimulates your body – and that’s the last thing you need right before you go to bed.

• Go to bed at the same time every night – Sleeping according to a schedule gives your body a chance to set its own internal rhythm – so you can get up when you want consistently. Stick to the same schedule on weekends as well. If you don’t, you’ll wake up the next morning feeling overly tired.

• No daytime naps – This just robs your body of needed nighttime sleep. It’s really a trick, and your body reacts as if it doesn’t need as much sleep at night. The reality is that only the nighttime sleep – uninterrupted – is best. If you must nap (because you can’t keep your eyes open), make it a short nap of only 15 to 20 minutes.

• Get 1 to 2 hours of sunshine each day – Research shows that exposure to sunlight helps with nighttime sleep. If you toss and turn and can’t get to sleep at a normal time, get your sun exposure in the mornings. If you fall asleep right away but later wake up and can’t fall back to sleep, go outside in the sunlight in the afternoon. Even in winter, when sunlight is scarce or nonexistent, exposure to a bright indoor light will suffice.

• Use night lights – Instead of turning on the room lights if you have to get up to use the bathroom in the night, let the illumination from softer night lights guide your way. The reason is that bright lights when you should be sleeping interfere with your internal sleep/wake clock.

• Read a good book – Before you turn out the lights, if you’ve had trouble sleeping, try reading that new novel, or an adventure story, something you would enjoy. But definitely keep any work-related materials out of the bedroom. That will only stress you and defeat the purpose.

• Take a relaxing warm bath – Or shower, about 1 to 20 hours before you retire. According to medical advice, this relaxes tense muscles and helps you cool down your core body temperature after you leave the tub. But don’t take that bath just before bed, since it takes your body an hour or two to cool down after your bath.

• Stay away from caffeine – No coffee, espresso, latte, tea or caffeinated soft drinks. Everyone knows that caffeine keeps you awake. Even if you really like your latte or after-dinner espresso, you’ll pay for it later with wakefulness.

• Avoid too much liquid – Too many glasses of water will lead to, you guessed it, too many nighttime trips to the bathroom.

• Drink a warm glass of milk – No kidding, this one really does work. Milk and dairy contain tryptophan (just like turkey) that helps make you sleepy. If liquid will cause a nighttime trip to the bathroom you’d just as soon avoid, try snacking on a bit of cheese or yoghurt instead.

• Don’t eat anything heavy before going to bed – You should not eat anything heavy (no rich desserts, pizza, etc.) for at least 2 hours before you head off to bed. Your body needs to begin digesting food. If you eat and then go right to bed, you’ll feel, and hear, your stomach churning and gurgling as it tries to digest the contents you’ve ingested. That’s hardly conducive to a good night’s sleep.

• Keep the bedroom dark – Except for the night lights in the hallway or bathroom, keep illumination in the bedroom way down. If you have a digital clock, for example, block it with a lamp or turn it away so the glow isn’t visible from your pillow.

• Keep room temperature low – A cool room helps promote sleep. The cool evening breeze through an open window is best. Be sure to turn down the thermostat even in winter. You can always keep warm with extra blankets and comforters.

• Keep it quiet – Don’t have any music or the TV playing. You want the peacefulness of silence in the bedroom to help you sleep. If your partner just has to watch the late news, make sure the volume is low. You may even consider ear plugs.

• Spritz a scent on the pillow – Some people find the scent of lavender helps promote sleep. Or try other scents that you can spritz on your pillow.

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