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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tips for a Good Night's Sleep

Say good night to sleep problems.

Here are 7 effective strategies for getting a better night's sleep.

1. Make your bedroom a haven for sleep. Your room should be quiet and sufficiently dark. Darkness prompts the pineal gland to produce melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. Cool temperatures also help you sleep, so set your thermostat appropriately.

2. Become a creature of habit. A nighttime routine can be very effective in letting your body know when it's time to sleep. Go through whatever rituals help you get mentally prepared for sleep. (Read a few pages of your novel, spend 5 to 10 minutes on personal grooming, meditate, stretch.) It's also critical to go to bed and get up at the same time every day -- even on weekends.

3. Tame your tummy. Going to bed either hungry or too full can disrupt your sleep. Don't have a big meal too close to bedtime or the digestion process might keep you awake. If you're hungry, have a snack rich in carbohydrates, which trigger the release of the brain chemical serotonin, associated with relaxation.

4. Watch the caffeine. Too much caffeine throughout the day, even if it's not consumed right before bedtime, can contribute to your lack of sleep. Limit yourself to two cups of tea, coffee, or cola, taken at least 6 hours before bedtime.

5. Tap the exercise answer. It's a simple fact: If you're physically tired at the end of the day, you'll sleep better. Outdoor exercise is especially helpful. Exercise at least three hours before bedtime.

6. Soak it up. Take a warm bath an hour or two before bed. Your body temperature will slowly drop after you get out of the tub, making you feel tired.

7. Don't toss and turn. If 30 minutes go by and you haven't fallen asleep, don't lie in bed feeling frustrated. Get up and do something relaxing, like listening to soothing music or flipping through a magazine. Or make yourself a cup of warm milk.

There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of developing a sleep disorder. You may want to consider making changes to your lifestyle, or you can consult with your doctor to learn how you can improve your health. By making small changes, you can greatly improve the quality of your sleep and thereby the overall quality of your mental and physical well-being.

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