How to Get Better Sleep

Try these tips to achieve a sweeter slumber.
By Jaime Netzer
November/December 2007
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Rise and shine! Keeping a regular bedtime and getting up around the same time each morning can help you get better sleep.

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Zzzz. A good night’s rest can be more precious than gold to an overworked, over-stressed body. Experts recommend fitting in a full seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and getting better sleep can improve work performance, memory and even relationships.

But it’s not always easy to get to bed on time, or to relax once you’re there. If you’re feeling sleep-deprived, there are plenty of natural options to help soothe you into a restful slumber. The following suggestions can help you make the most of your slumber.

Before Bedtime

  • Make sure your bedroom is a sleep haven — keep the temperature down, the lights low, and avoid doing anything but sleeping, snuggling or other bedroom activities between the sheets. This means no TV, late-night Web surfing, or, worst of all, work.

  • Lavender has been proven effective at inducing calm and relaxation. Get a lavender eye pillow or use a few drops of the essential oil to soothe your senses.

  • Establish a bedtime routine. Taking a hot bath can exaggerate the natural temperature dip your body experiences as it transitions from wakefulness to sleep, bringing sleep on faster. You can make bathing at night and reading something pleasant before bed a daily practice.

  • Avoid (or eliminate) caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, especially close to bedtime. Alcohol and nicotine may seem to induce shut-eye, but both cause disrupted snoozing later on in the night. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours, keeping you awake long after you’d like.

Lying in Bed Unable to Sleep? Try the Following:

  • Practice deep breathing. Focus on moving your belly up and down, not your chest. Inhale for a count of four, and exhale for a count of eight.

  • Slowly tense and then relax every muscle group in your body. Start with your toes, move to your feet, then your ankles, then your calves — chances are, by the time you reach your head, you’ll already be dreaming.

  • Throw a T-shirt over the alarm clock. Clock-watching won’t make you fall asleep any faster, and in fact usually exacerbates worries and stress. Try your best not to focus on the sleep you might be losing.

  • After 20 minutes of trying, if you still can’t sleep, get up! Take advantage of your wakefulness to do something productive but still calming. Then, after you start to feel drowsy, lie down and try again.

Do you have any tried and true get-to-sleep tips? Share them in the comments field below. Sweet Dreams!

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