HomeHealthArchivesFeb 2010


Natural Tips for Better Sleep

First you try opening the window, and toss and turn for a while. Then you get up and shut it. Maybe the pillow isn't fluffy enough, so you fluff it. You can't stop thinking about work and all the things you have to get done tomorrow. You fluff the pillow again. You roll onto your back, and then onto your stomach, and then return to your back. Fluff the pillow one more time. Lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, you realize that, once again, you are not going to get any sleep tonight.

Why Do We Need Sleep?

During sleep, the body repairs and revitalizes itself . In addition, sleep is important for proper functioning of the immune system and the nervous system.

Lack of sleep can result in:

    * Increased stress

    * Impaired memory

    * Shortened temper

    * Lower motivation

    * Slower reflexes

    * More mistakes

    * Increased risk of illness

But a good night of sleep can be elusive. A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60% of adults have problems falling asleep at least a few nights a week.

Ten Tips for Better Sleep

Before reaching for an over-the-counter sleep aid, try these natural tips from the Better Sleep Council to help you get a good night's sleep.

1. Keep regular hours

Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, even on weekends.

2. Develop a sleep ritual

Whether it is to take a hot bath, have a cup of herbal tea, or read a book, doing the same things each night just before bed cues your body to settle down for the night.

3. Exercise regularly

This can help to relieve tension. But be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime or you may have a hard time falling asleep.

4. Cut down on stimulants

Consuming stimulants, such as caffeine, in the evening interferes with falling asleep and prevents deep sleep. Instead, have a cup of herbal tea, which is noncaffeinated, before bed.

5. Don't smoke

Smokers tend to take longer to fall asleep, awaken more often, and experience disrupted, fragmented sleep.

6. Unwind early in the evening

Deal with worries and distractions several hours before going to bed. Make a list of things you need to do tomorrow, so you won't think about them all night. Try relaxation exercises, like slow rhythmic breathing, once in bed.

7. Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress and foundation

It's difficult to get deep, restful sleep on a bed that's too small, too soft, or too hard.

8. Create a restful sleep environment

A dark, quiet room is more conducive to sleep. Sudden, loud noises or bright lights can disrupt sleep. A room that is too hot or too cold can disturb sleep as well. The ideal bedroom temperature is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

9. Make sleep a priority

Say "yes" to sleep even when you're tempted to stay up late. You'll feel healthier, refreshed, and ready to take on the day.

In addition, restrict the number of activities you do in bed. Your bed should not become a place for watching TV, eating food, or doing work. It should be a place to sleep and perhaps, if you're not alone, one other activity.