Health Sleep Habits 2015

1. Maintain a regular bed time and wake time.  Unless you can make naps a regular part of our day, try to avoid them.  They exception to this is when you become sleepy when driving.  In this situation you are impaired and it is important that you pull over where it is safe to do so and take a nap.

2. Set aside some “worry time” in the evening to think about all the things that need thinking about.  Then write it down, make a list, or put note on a calendar.   Do whatever it takes to give yourself permission to be “off duty” for the rest of the night.

3. One to two hours before bed, slow down and disengage from the days activities.  Start with a hot bath to slightly raise your body temperature.  Then do something relaxing until bedtime.  Even though some people may fall asleep watching TV, it is best to avoid TV and computer before bed as they can be neurologically stimulating.

4. One hour before bed, have a light carbohydrate snack along with Calcium 500mg and Magnesium 250mg.  These are approximate dosages obtained at health food stores.

5.  At bedtime, do a relaxation technique in bed lights out, eyes, closed, with permission to fall asleep while you are doing it.  If you wake during the night, remember you are off duty.  Your only job is to repeat the relaxation technique and return tons keep.

6. The bedroom should be dark, quiet, and comfortably cool.  Use only for sleep or sexual activity.  Do not look at the clock during the night.  Set the alarm so you know when to get up, and turn the clock away so you cannot see it.  The alarm is important!  It enables you to sleep deeper by taking away the responsibility of keeping track of time and determining when you are going to get up.

7. If you have fallen asleep, or wake and cannot return to sleep within 20-30 minutes (just estimate), get up, go to another room and do something relaxing, not exposing yourself to bright light.  Return to bed when you start to feel sleepy and repeat the relaxation technique.

8. For those who have a habit of staying up late and sleeping in, you may need to reset your biological clock with morning bright light.  Starting within an hour of awakening in the morning, try to get 30-45 minutes of direct sunlight (ideally outside, no sunglasses).

9. Eat regular meals and a good diet.  Avoid heavy meals 4 hours before bed.

10. Exercise every day.  To help your sleep, it is best to exercise in the late afternoon or early evening, but nothing strenuous within four hours of bedtime.

11. Nicotine is a stimulant.  If you smoke, ideally you should stop smoking, or at least not smoke after 7pm or during the night.  Avoid caffeine or at least drink no more than 2 cups of coffee per day, none later than noon.  Have no more than 2 drinks of alcohol on any one day and not within 3 hours of bedtime.

12.  Try to repeat your relaxation technique at least one time during the day to help reduce unnecessary tension and increase general awareness of what is going on in your body physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Being aware of these feelings is key to getting your needs met.  Ignoring your feelings and pushing yourself may aggravate sleep problems.

13. If you are having difficulty consolidating your sleep, try going to bed an hour or two later for a few weeks.  Once your sleep is consolidated, gradually advance your bedtime routing 30 minute earlier until getting enough sleep to feel fully rested all day.