Good Night Sleep Tight: Tips For Sleeping Well Every Night
By Kim West, LCSW-C,
Author of The Sleep Lady®'s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy
Did you know that getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night can help you live longer, be thinner, think clearer and look younger? Despite these incredible benefits more then half of U.S. adults get less then 7-8 hours of sleep at night!
If you are one of the 75% of adults who report having a sleep problem, consider some of these helpful sleep tips to start to get the sleep you need and your body craves:
• Go to bed and wake up at around the same time (and while you have young children you might want to set your bedtime earlier than usual). Even on weekends, try not to modify it by more than an hour. Routines "condition" us for sleep, psychologically and physiologically, and the conditioned response then makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
• Give yourself plenty of time to wind down, letting your body and mind become more relaxed and ready for sleep. Listen to quiet music, take a bath, or read a book. Some people find that light stretches, meditation, creative visualization, or progressive relaxation helps.
• If you need to catch up, rather than tinker too much with your nightly sleep schedule, take naps. But either take a short twenty- to thirty-minute nap or take a longer ninety- to hundred-minute nap so you don't wake up during a non-REM sleep cycle and feel groggy. Before I learned that, I used to set the alarm for one hour and wake up feeling lethargic and lousy, like I needed a major infusion of caffeine.
• Make sure your bed and your bedroom are sleep friendly. Your room should be quiet, dark, and secure, and your mattress, pillows, and sheets should be comfortable. Sort out any temperature-control issues with your partner or spouse!
• Exercise at least twenty to thirty minutes three times a week, but try to do it in the morning or during the day, not in the evening. If possible, leave at least three to four hours between strenuous exercise and sleep, and you certainly don't want to work out right before you go to bed.
• Try to get some natural light in the afternoon. Go for a walk or sit in a sunny room, and try to get out of the house or at least briefly escape your artificially lit office cubicle.
• Eat dinner at least three hours before going to bed.
• Reduce your caffeine consumption (two cups maximum), and don't have any caffeine for at least six to eight hours before bedtime because it stays in your bloodstream. Caffeine doesn't just mean coffee -- it means tea, many sodas, chocolate, and some over-the-counter cold and headache remedies. We become more sensitive to caffeine as we approach our forties.
• Nicotine is a stimulant, so if you haven't stopped smoking, poor sleep is yet another incentive.
• Watch your alcohol consumption. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but more than three to five glasses, even less for some individuals, fragment our sleep. We wake up more often at night and earlier in the morning.
Copyright © 2009 Kim West, LCSW-C, author of The Sleep Lady®'s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy
Kim West, LCSW-C, known as The Sleep Lady®, has helped thousands of tired parents gently teach their babies and children how to go to sleep and stay asleep. West has appeared on Dr. Phil, the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, TLC's Bringing Home Baby, and CNN, and has been written about in a number of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Parents, Baby Talk, Parenting, the Baltimore Sun, USA Today, and the Washington Post. West hosts the sleep section of The Newborn Channel, played in maternity wards in hospitals across the country. She is the mother of two daughters and a licensed child and family therapist, practicing for over seventeen years. She lives with her family in Annapolis, Maryland.
In addition to The Sleep Lady®'s Good Night, Sleep Tight, West is also the author of 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies and the upcoming, Good Night, Sleep Tight Workbook.
Visit Kim West at www.sleeplady.com.
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