In Part 1, we talked about how important adequate, quality sleep is vital to health, happiness and success.
To catch up on part 1 visit: http://blog.ctnews.com/drrhodes/2014/03/14/secrets-to-successful-sleep-part-1/
Some sleep problems are medical
The minority of sleep problems have a medical cause. See your physician if:
- You think you may have sleep apnea (grunting, snorting, periods of stopping breathing),
- Your sleep problem is causing disruption to your life (drowsiness in the day, trouble focusing, mood changes and other symptoms),
- You wake feeling unwell, disorientated or confused,
- Pain, or other symptoms, such as breathlessness are keeping you awake at night,
- You need to go the bathroom, more than once a night,
- You fall asleep uncontrollably during the day,
- You have serious or long-standing sleep deprivation,
- You have recurrent early morning wakening,
- You think medications are interfering with sleep.
Developing a “sleep plan”
If you have mild sleep problems and are otherwise well, there are many things you can try, before seeking medical care. Here is a list of things I recommend to my clients. Try some or all for at least one week:
- Keep a sleep diary: Every morning note down time you went to bed, time you fell asleep, time you awoke, quality of sleep, possible reasons for poor sleep from the night before.
- Good sleep habits: Try and go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. Make sure your bed is comfortable, your room is warm, and your sleep space is as dark as you can tolerate.
- Plan for daily down-time: During the day plan some relaxation time to prevent you from getting overwhelmed or stressed.
- Relax before you sleep: try reading, meditating, taking a bath, or listening to music or a relaxation recording. Avoid screens-time if it prevents you from sleeping.
- Eat healthily during the day: plenty of fresh fruit and veggies, and restrict sugar and heavy foods, especially later in the day. Sleep is closely linked to brain and gut health.
- White noise: Try a white noise machine, app on your phone or fan, to distract your racing mind or drown out environmental noise.
- Avoid afternoon naps: Try relaxing instead of sleeping. Clearly, there are exceptions like when you are ill, your child is having a disturbed night or you are nursing.
- Ban electronics from your bedroom, other than your alarm clock.
- Don’t eat or drink too late, especially food or drink that disrupts your sleep.
- Daily exercise, not too late in the day, increases tiredness and hormones and neurochemicals that promote sleep.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom if they disturb you: it’s hard to sleep through an old dog shuffling around or a hamster rearranging it’s bedding.
- For waking during the night or waking too early, try some or all of these:
- Meditate if you know how.
- Think about your favorite movie or book: recall in great detail.
- Listen to a relaxation recording.
- Think about a favorite vacation or day, try to replay it in your mind in great detail.
If you are still having trouble sleeping after consistently trying this plan for one week, consider trying a natural supplement such as melatonin or 5-HTP but please read the label and/or check with a physician.
If your sleep problem worsens or persist for a sustained period, please see your physician to rule out a medical cause.
Here’s to a restful sleep and energetic, healthy, happy, successful day!
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