22 March 2009

If insomnia is derailing your sleep, a prescription sleeping pill may not be the best cure. Here are some options to explore:

Good sleep hygiene. It means following good sleep habits, especially ensuring the bedroom environment is conducive to sleep.Better Sleep
  1. Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex
  2. Keep regular sleep and wake times
  3. Eliminate afternoon caffeine
  4. Banish pets and snoring partners from the bedroom
  5. Ensure the bedroom is a dark, cool, quiet place
  6. Get computer and TV out of the sleep environment, because they stimulate the brain and their light tells the body "it's daytime".
Better Sleep
Break the rules when necessary. Sometimes recommendations about sleep hygienecan be break and sometimes help, too. TV isn't recommended, but a DVD or show may put some people to sleep. Don't throw them out but make them work for you.

Develop a pre-bed relaxation ritual. To develop a non-stimulating evening ritual, you might recall what your parents did when you were young to get you in sleep mode. Or try taking a hot bath or sipping a warm cup of chamomile tea; either will raise your core body temperature, which leads to a drowsy feeling as you cool down.

Better SleepTry not to self-medicate. Over-the-counter only help you get through.Pharmacies certainly offer lots of sleep remedies not solve the problem. There are antihistamines, like Benadryl, which have a sedative side effect. But those medications can induce next-day grogginess what some patients call "sleep hangovers" and they can actually have an alerting or a disorienting effect on the elderly. Other OTC options include melatonin supplements and valerian extracts, although evidence of the effectiveness of either is slim. Melatonin, valerian, and similar substances, nobody's regulating this stuff.

Better SleepDon't drink to sleep. Sloshing down a little Pinot Noir will put you to sleep, but as the alcohol is metabolized by the body, it fragments sleep, which tends to cause nighttime awakenings and next-day tiredness. People have the misconception that alcohol helps actually it doesn't.

Create a barrier between work and sleep. You want to have some sort of break from the day's stress before sleep. If you know you're going to bed at 10:30, stop your day at 10:15, or sooner. Write down all the things you need to worry about on a piece of paper, and do your best to leave them behind. Whether asleep or awake, there's likely nothing you can do about them until tomorrow.

Don't "catastrophize." People who can't sleep tend to compound the problem by fretting about the consequences of their sleeplessness, like the possibility that they'll do a bad job at work and get fired. Catastrophizing a sleep problem, however, tends to further engrain it.

Exercise. While experts advise against vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, a morning or evening workout can be beneficial. We know that it promotes the slowest waves of sleep.

Better SleepRetreat to a "safe room." Don't stew in bed. Create a "safe room" to retreat to when sleep escapes you. If awake for more than 20 minutes after your head hits the pillow, get out of bed and go to that room. Don't turn on a light, don't go on the Internet, don't read a book; just relax, for 20 minutes, or until sleepy. Repeat as necessary, all night long. You want to prevent your bedroom from becoming associated with frustration. If you live in a dorm or a studio apartment, use a screen to carve out a sitting nook away from the bed.

Not working? Talk to your doctor. Everybody may have episodes of sleep trouble. Discuss it with a doctor or ask to be referred to a sleep specialist if it's disrupting your daytime activities,. Some people may be physiologically susceptible to chronic insomnia, while others may bring it on by developing bad coping habits. If an underlying psychiatric condition isn't to blame, untreated insomnia could end up contributing to one. Jump on insomnia within six months or you may end up treating depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders later. Prescription medications may be explored but are usually a last resort or you can try cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps people unlearn bad behaviors.

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