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How to Get Better Sleep

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It’s Monday. Chances are you’re pretty tired. I am. Here are a few ways we can all get better sleep. 

Good, sound sleep is such a wonderful thing. It can lead to a stronger immune system, increased productivity and better moods, so why is it so hard to get good sleep? You’ve heard all of the advice about the set bedtime, sleeping in a totally dark room and not drinking alcohol before bed, but there are a few other suggestions that you may not have thought of.

Check Your Meds

Are you on beta blockers for high blood pressure or an anti depressant? Some prescription drugs can cause insomnia. I have a controller medication for my asthma and I have to watch out how close to bedtime I take it because it’s a mild stimulant. It doesn’t last long, but if I take and go to bed right away, I have a tendency to have a rough time falling asleep right away. So, before you go to the doctor to get a pill to help you sleep, find out first if it isn’t something you’re already taking.


Quit Smoking

I always thought that smoking was so relaxing, but that was all in my head. I would smoke one last cigarette before I went to bed and there I would be tossing and turning wondering why I was still awake. Then I’d be angry, I’d get up and go smoke again. Well, nicotine is a stimulant that prevents you from sleeping. It’s also possible smokers have trouble sleeping because they have withdrawal symptoms at night. Smoking also makes sleeping disorders like sleep apnea worse, so quit it.


Exercise

Exercise is a great mood booster because it releases the feel good hormones called endorphins in your brain, but did you know that as your body cools down from exercise, it also releases the sleep hormone melatonin? It’s true! Exercise (especially cardio like swimming or running) is known to improve the length and quality of your sleep, but be careful not to exercise within four hours of bedtime otherwise you can do more harm than good as exercise has a tendency to warm the body’s core temperature which can prevent you from sleeping.


Eat

I had always heard that it’s not a good idea to eat before bed, but you can have a small snack about an hour before you climb in. The ideal snack will consist of some sort of carbohydrate and calcium or tryptophan. Tryptophan is really common in turkey and that’s what makes you sleepy on Thanksgiving. A slice of whole grain toast and a piece of turkey is good. Banana with some peanut butter is always tasty, or try a small amount of cottage cheese with a piece of fruit.


Stay In Bed

The advice used to be that if you can’t fall asleep after 15 minutes or so, get out of bed, but if you’re not anxious, stay put and try breathing exercises or some boring visualizations. If you still can’t fall asleep or you’re stressed out, try some light yoga or massaging your feet until you feel sleepy.

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