There are few things in life as satisfying as a good night’s sleep. Mothers insist on it to help children grow well, doctors advise it for optimum health, and beauty gurus recommend it to stay younger and feel better. Thus, it is important to get the good night sleep you deserve.
Ironically, however, this supposedly natural body phenomenon proves impossible to achieve for many people. If you have sleeping disorders and you find it hard to get the good night sleep you deserve, you are not alone. A report by the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reveals that about 40 million people suffer from chronic long-term sleep disorders each year.
Sleeping disorders are generally classified into three categories: lack of sleep (e.g. insomnia), disturbed sleep (e.g. sleep apnea or the obstruction of airways during sleep), and excessive sleep (e.g. narcolepsy, the condition of falling asleep spontaneously and unwillingly).
If you regularly cannot get the good night sleep you deserve, then you might have a chronic sleep disorder. Some sleep disorders are chronic, brought about by deep medical or psychiatric conditions. Others occur occasionally and are only temporary, cured easily by eliminating the root cause of sleep deficit. Common causes of sleep disorders are lifestyle changes, work-related stress, and prescription drugs that disrupt sleeping patterns.
People with sleeping disorders are typically given medications or advised to undergo behavioral or psychotherapeutic treatments to treat their condition. While medications (such as sleeping pills) provide easy and immediate relief, they don’t exactly give you the good night sleep you deserve and don’t eliminate the root of a sleep deficit.
So before you pop that pill, remember that much can be done to win the fight against sleepless nights. Here are some tips to get the good night sleep you deserve – either before you hit the hay or as you lay in bed frustrated.
One way to get the good night sleep you deserve is to figure out how much you need. A good night’s sleep varies from one person to another. Infants sleep most of the day (about 16 hours); teenagers usually need about 9 hours a day; and adults need an average of 7 to 8 hours a day. The key is to keep track of the total number of hours you spent sleeping. For two weeks, take note of how many hours you spend in the sack, including naps. Calculate the average sleep you get in twenty-four hours. If you get, say, six hours, spend six-and-a-half hours in bed, to allow for time to fall asleep.
Another way to get the good night sleep you deserve is develop a pre-sleep routine. Every night, before you hit the sheets, perform a specific “wind-down” ritual. Read a book, do yoga stretches, listen to calm music – anything that helps you de-stress. A nighttime routine will create an association with sleep that your body will respond to automatically. This routine will help you get the good night sleep you deserve.
Use your bed wisely. Try to avoid non-sleeping activities in bed, such as watching television or balancing your bankbook. These activities will not help you get the good night sleep you deserve. Use it only for sleeping, and sex. Doing this will send subconscious cues to your brain that will help it associate the bed with sleeping.
Take a steamy shower. A drop in core body temperature prepares your body for sleep. So an hour before bedtime, take a warm shower or relax in the bathtub. Once you’ve cooled down, your body will be set for slumber and you will get the good night sleep you deserve.
Keep off the uppers. Coffee, cigarettes and alcohol are some of the stuffs you definitely need to avoid before going to bed. They may relax and help you fall asleep, but when the effect wears off they can cause fragmented sleep during the remainder of the night. If you want to get the good night sleep you deserve, avoid coffee, alcohol and cigarettes. So hold off the “nightcap” and do not drink alcohol within six hours of bedtime. If you must smoke, have your last cigarette at least three hours before going to bed. Coffee should also be avoided after 3 p.m.
Wear an eye mask. Strapping an eye mask on will help blot out minuscule light sources such as the red LCD screen of your alarm clock or the dim glow of the computer screensaver. These minuscule light sources are surprising sleep obstructions, which your brain can detect even when your eyes are closed. These things will deprive you from the good night sleep you deserve.
Count sheep. The old adage about “counting sheep” (or any other animal, for that matter) really works, because it helps you focus on a series of ascending or descending numbers which in turn keeps your brain too busy to focus on anxious thoughts. Adding a visual image (such as the sheep hopping over a fence or walking down a flight of stairs while counting) can give you the sense that you’re moving deeper and deeper into slumber. This will help you get the good night sleep you deserve. good night image
Melt muscle tension to help you get the good night sleep you deserve. When you are anxious, your nervous system goes into overdrive and tenses you up all over. To remove the tension, imagine it dissolving slowly through your toes. Then, move on to the stress on your calves, all the way to the top of your head. By the time you’re done, you’ll feel physically “looser” and primed for dreamland and you are on your way to get the good night sleep you deserve.