How to Sleep Better: Sleep Deprivation Solutions

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From having occasional difficulty sleeping to caffeine, and alcohol

Circadian Rhythm

We all have a day-night cycle of about 24 hours called the circadian rhythm. It greatly influences when we sleep and the quantity and the quality of our sleep. The more stable and consistent our circadian rhythm is, the better our sleep. This cycle may be altered by the timing of various factors, including naps, heart attack, and stroke.

All that said, here are some sleep hygiene tips to help you relax, fall asleep, stay asleep, and get better sleep so that you wake up refreshed and alert.

1. Avoid watching TV, eating, and discussing emotional issues in bed. The bed should be used for sleep and sex only. If not, we can associate the bed with other activities and it often becomes difficult to fall asleep.

2. Minimize noise, light, and temperature extremes during sleep with ear plugs, window blinds, or an electric blanket or air conditioner. Even the slightest nighttime noises or luminescent lights can disrupt the quality of your sleep. Try to keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature — not too hot (above 75 degrees) or too cold (below 54 degrees).

3. Try not to drink fluids after 8 p.m. This may reduce awakenings due to urination.

4. Avoid naps, but if you do nap, make it no more than about 25 minutes about eight hours after you awake. But if you have problems falling asleep, then no naps for you.

5. Do not expose your self to bright light if you need to get up at night. Use a small night-light instead.

6. Nicotine is a stimulant and should be avoided particularly near bedtime and upon night awakenings. Having a smoke before bed, although it may feel relaxing, is actually putting a stimulant into your bloodstream.

7. Caffeine is also a stimulant and is present in coffee (100-200 mg), soda (50-75 mg), tea (50-75 mg), and various over-the-counter chocolate) may be useful and taste good as well.

10. Do not exercise vigorously just before bed, if you are the type of person who is aroused by exercise. If this is the case, it may be best to exercise in the morning or afternoon (preferably an aerobic workout, like running or walking).

11. Does your pet sleep with you? This, too, may cause arousals from either allergies or their movements in the bed. Thus, Fido and Kitty may be better off on the floor than on your sheets.

Good sleep hygiene can have a tremendous impact upon getting better sleep. You should wake-up feeling refreshed and alert, and you should generally not feel sleepy during the day. If this is not the case, poor sleep hygiene may be the culprit, but it is very important to consider that you may have an unrecognized sleep disorder. Many, many sleep disorders go unrecognized for years, leading to unnecessary suffering, poor quality of life, accidents, and great expense. Since it is clear how critical sound sleep is to your health and well-being, if you are not sleeping well, see your doctor or a sleep specialist.