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Can't Sleep? Neither can 60 Million Americans
27 May

It wasn’t until I started talking about my own sleep problems that I realized how many others have trouble reaching a restful state of sleep, and how this difficulty can have a devastating effect on daily routines. “Sleep is the fuel of life” says Gayle Green, author of Insomniac. “It’s nourishing; it’s restorative. And when you are deprived of it, you are really deprived of a basic kind of sustenance.”

After years of not getting a full night’s rest due to newborn twins, migraines, stress, etc. and feeling like I was living in a cloudy foggy haze, I got some easy (and some harder) tips from a sleep specialist that I’m hoping can help others.

I’ll get to the point: Insomnia is a BAD HABIT. The more you experience it, the more your brain gets used to these odd sleeping habits, and it will continue. You need to RETRAIN your brain to fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night. And just like any training, this will be hard work.

So allow me to share ten of the top ways I’ve improved my sleeping process. And be aware, I am not a doctor so follow these at your own risk. :)

  1. Give yourself ONE HOUR before bed to “shut down”. Don’t go on the computer, don’t do anything related to work, don’t play around on your phone, and don’t watch TV. Activity and artificial light make your brain think it’s supposed to be awake, so dim the lighting and perform less active tasks like reading the Economist, doing the dishes, or listening to meditation tapes.

  2. Only use your bed for sleeping: Do not read in bed, eat in bed, or watch TV in bed. Train your brain that bed is for sleeping ONLY.

  3. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each night and morning. Remember, you need to retrain your brain, and ROUTINE will help. Alarm clocks may be necessary for some. :)

  4. Set aside 30 minutes during the day to make a “WORRY” list: use one side of the paper to write down all the things on your mind, everything you have to do, and the other side to write down what you’re going to do about it. Leave this piece of paper next to your bedside table so if you do think of something in the middle of the night, you can write it down easily so you don’t forget it.

  5. If you do wake up in the middle of the night, and can’t fall back asleep after 20 mins or so – GET UP. Go into a dark room and either read boring stuff again (with a reading light), or just sit there, until you feel SLEEPY. Do not go back to bed until you feel sleepy.

  6. EXERCISE: Get your heart rate up at least 3x a week (try and do it 3 hours before bed).

  7. Don’t drink alcohol or have anything high in sugar 2 hours before bed: the sugar in the alcohol and food breaks down while you are sleeping and will wake you up.

  8. Get sunlight as soon as you get up/when the sun rises: GO OUTSIDE for at least 15 minutes. Remember, you are retraining you brain when it is daytime. Daytime is not 1:30 am :) This has been the most helpful tip for me.

  9. Melatonin: my doctor recommended 3 mg of over the counter synthetic melatonin 4 hours before bed. Again, I AM NOT A DOCTOR so please check with yours if concerned about supplements.

  10. Here’s one that is up for debate: Do not nap. This also throws off your brain on when night and day time is.

I didn’t say this was going to be easy. But from someone who hadn’t slept a full night in 4 years, and is now getting a full night of sleep 3x a week, I’m calling these tips life saving. I have more energy for work, and for my kids; I’m sharper, less irritable, and I don’t dread going to bed!


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