Want to join your partner in getting a terrible night’s rest? Here are 6 things you can do that can cause insomnia – or, in reverse, 5 things you might want to stop doing so you get a better night’s rest!
1. Think 8 Hours Is The Gold Standard. It’s a number. Many adults need less sleep orthey need a little more. If you’d like to sleep 9 hours but are beating yourself up because you think it’s unhealthy and lazy, stop. If you wake up totally refreshed with six hours, you may be getting just the right amount of sleep for you. One way to figure it out. Don’t set an alarm for several days – long enough to go to sleep and wake up on your own time clock. If you feel rested and aren’t tired during the day, you’ve probably found out how much you need to sleep. Trying to force 8 hours and only 8 hours may actually work against you.
2. Have A Glass Of Wine Or A Drink. You’re pretty sure it relaxes you and helps you get to sleep. That may be true but as you metabolize the alcohol while you’re a sleep, the process may actually wake you up or keep you from getting the deep, restorative sleep you need. Hot milk, anyone?
3. You Wake Up So You Get Up. Some sleep gurus think if you’re not asleep, you shouldn’t be in bed. Not necessarily true. If you are relaxed and at peace, just stay there until you drift off to sleep. Try counting backwards by 3’s or another number of your choice. However, if you do get up because you’re not peaceful, stay away from things that will stimulate you and tell your brain it’s wakeup time. No bright lights, no devices, no posting or tweeting – that’s going to keep you awake. Listen to some quiet music. Sit and rock in a dim room.
4. You Go To Bed Whenever. A lack of routine will cause insomnia. It may have been many years since you had a bedtime story, but go back in time. Set a reasonable bedtime – not too early, not too late. Now, set aside the hour before bedtime to give yourself a sleepy-time routine. For the first 20 minutes, tie up loose ends. Send out the last email. Walk the dog. Pick up the family room. For the next 20 minutes, get ready for bed with good hygiene. Brush your teeth. Take a warm shower or bath. For the last 20 minutes, sooth yourself. Meditate. Try gentle yoga or simply pick up a good book (use a dim book light). Now, go to sleep.
5. Don’t Keep Track Of Caffeine. Did you know that caffeine has a half-life of 10 hours? That means half the caffeine from the latte you had a lunch is still with you after dark. Add an energy drink or a soda, and, oh my, you may just have a hard time getting to sleep. Note that as you age it takes your body longer to process caffeine. The after dinner cup of coffee you had when you were twenty may keep you awake when you are forty. Know how much caffeine you are consuming.
If you want to become an insomniac, try all of the above. If you’d like to get to sleep easier and have a more restful night and you see yourself in the 5 triggers above, give them up. If you have an old, uncomfortable mattress, give it up, too. You can find great deals on great mattresses by simply going on line – but don’t do it too close to bedtime!