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Changing your sleep environment can promote natural sleep and cure insomnia

How to Promote Natural Sleep

There’s a lot you can do to regain control over your sleep. Minor lifestyle and environment changes — such as preparing for sleep, following a sleep schedule, and making your bedroom conducive to sleep — can have a major impact. And if you do shift work, there are ways to meet the unique challenges you face.

Prepare for sleep...

Setting the stage for a good night’s sleep can help you get your mind and body into “sleep mode.” Relax your body. To reduce muscular tension, try techniques such as meditation, progressive relaxation, or even taking a warm bath. Unwind mentally. About a half hour before going to bed, enjoy a low-key activity such as reading or listening to music. Once in bed, try to stop worrying. Avoid solving your problems from your bed. Before going to bed, make a list of problems and “next steps” for the following day. Try a high-carb snack. A light snack that is high in carbohydrates, such as a plain bagel, might help you relax. Avoid heavy, spicy, or high-sugar foods.

Follow a schedule...

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day — even on weekends. Creating this routine can help condition your mind and body to expect sleep at a regular time. Do a bedroom check Your bedroom may not be as conducive to sleep as it could be.

Make your bedroom more sleep-friendly...

Block out noise. Or better yet, eliminate it. Even if you fall back to sleep after noise wakes you, the quality of your sleep can be compromised. Turn off radios, televisions, or stereos in the bedroom (and other rooms as well). If you can’t control the noise, try earplugs.

Reduce light. The issue isn’t merely how light affects your eyes. Light also affects the way your brain produces hormones that regulate your sleep cycle. Even a minimal amount of light can disrupt your sleep. Possible solutions: Ask your sleep partner to read in another room; wear a “sleep mask”; use heavy shades or other window treatments that keep the room very dark.

Adjust the room temperature. If you are too warm or too cold, you are less likely to sleep soundly. Adjust the thermostat, your sleep clothes, or your bedding; open or close a window.

Move the clock. If you have insomnia (see glossary), looking at the clock can make you anxious. Therefore, it’s best to keep it out of view.

Have your pet sleep somewhere else. If your dog or cat sleeps in your bed, your chances for sound sleep are jeopardized. Have your pet sleep on the floor, or get your pet its own cushion and place it in another room. Address your partner’s sleep problems.

A bed partner who snores, tosses and turns a lot, talks while sleeping, or gets up often can affect your own sleep. In some cases, using earplugs or adding “white noise” (from a fan or similar humming appliance) can help. If your partner gets up a lot, make sure he or she sleeps closest to the door. If your partner tosses and turns, consider a larger bed, or even separate beds.

Tips for shift workers...

If you need to get a good night's sleep during the day, one of your biggest challenges may be dealing with the sunlight. Here are some suggestions: If possible, work in brightly lit areas during your shift. When you drive home in the morning, wear sunglasses. Limiting light to your eyes tricks the brain into thinking it’s getting close to nighttime. Make sure your bedroom is absolutely dark. If any daylight is creeping in through the curtains or shades, drape a thick towel or blanket over the window. You might also consider wearing a “sleep mask.”

8 Point Therapy to Good sleep

1. Start making it dark in your house or apartment earlier in the evening than you normally do.

Avoid a quick spell in the gym doing five hundred press ups, or a couple of hours playing the latest 'Axe-Murdering-Car-Jacker III' computer game just before your bed-time.

Think about how our ancestors got ready to go to sleep - they finished their working day, they had some grub and maybe did a little gentle frolicking in the hay, it got dark, and then they went to sleep.

These patterns are built into our DNA. If you divert from them you will not be following or satisfying your body's natural urges. Think about your lifestyle, especially what you do as bed-time approaches.

2. Eat some carbohydrate before bedtime. Carbohydrate foods are things like potatoes, rice, pasta, porridge oats, bread.

Twelve hours could pass between your evening meal and breakfast. If you are hungry while asleep this will not help you to stay asleep.

3. Drink warm milk with a spoonful of honey before retiring to bed.

Alcohol is a temporary crutch and not a sustainable cure for insomnia.

Fizzy pop or squash drinks with millions of additives are not particularly conducive to a good night's sleep either. Ditto Red Bull, coffee, etc., use your common sense.

4. When you are in bed, try this relaxation technique:

It's best to start with your face. Relax your jaw. Make sure your mouth is slightly open.

Really concentrate on relaxing your face. It will be tense almost certainly - relax it.

If you are worried about sleeping, or anything else, you face will be tense, and this makes it very difficult to get to sleep, so relax all of your face. When your face is fully relaxed you can imagine and feel your worries drifting away.

Imagine them floating away into the distance until they disappear.

Like clouds. Or bubbles.

There they go..... all gone.

Especially relax your jaw and your forehead - and open your mouth a little.

Then work you way up from toes, ankles, knees, etc.

Relax each section before moving on to the next.

Check every now and then that your face and jaw and forehead are still relaxed, and if worries reappear imagine them drifting away again until they disappear.

5. Imagine any remaining tension flowing out of your body through your toes, fingers, the crown of your head. Imagine it and feel it.

Imagine your toes and fingers tingling as you release. Feel your body relaxing - there will be little sensations that you can feel as you relax and surrender. Feel for these sensations - focus inwardly on how your body feels.

Feel your heart gently beating. Feel your breathing getting slower. Feel all over relaxing.

6. If you are still awake, check your breathing. Your breathing will have slowed. Concentrate on slowing it further.

Breathe into your neck, then your chest, then abdomen.

Avoid 'trying' to breathe. Let your body do it for you. It's actually quite a well-proven phenomenon - your body will breathe by itself..

Exhale fully.

Use words (imagine - keep your mouth still) to help slow your breathing - breathe in 'love', breathe out 'peace' - or suitable calming alternatives. Imagine the words and sounds passing through your mouth.

7. Think of the colour purple. Make it appear in your mind's eye. Other colours may appear at first, but aim for the purple. Relax into the waves of purple.

8. Roll your closed eyes upwards three times, at any pace you like. (This happens naturally when you are falling asleep and evidently triggers some sleep chemical in our body).

..... and repeat stages 4 to 8 until you are asleep (or until it's time to get up - no, seriously - if you've a mild sleep disorder or fleeting insomnia, then you might not even reach stage 8 first time around).



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