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Turn the Lights Out On Insomnia

There's a difference between occasional sleepless nights and habitual insomnia. If you're regularly getting less z's than you'd like or need, here's some tips to help you get back into the right habit.

Everyone occasionally suffers from difficulty with falling asleep. It could be because of everyday worries, changes to daily routines or even elation but it happens to everyone. Occasional insomnia can be annoying, but it's not a serious problem until it becomes the norm. Habitual sleeplessness can affect a person’s health, relationships and job performance. If you spend your nights lying awake instead of sleeping, here are some tips that can help you fall asleep more easily.

Treat Your Bedroom like It's a Bed Room
Try to create a restful atmosphere in your bedroom. Avoid keeping a television or computer in your bedroom as these can be too stimulating to your mind at night. Keep your bedroom as dark and as quiet as possible during your sleeping hours.

Avoid from doing any activities in your room other than sleeping.  Many people will retreat to their bedrooms through the course of the day to watch TV, eat, relax, do homework or just have some solo time.  If you're regularly having issues falling asleep, stop treating your bedroom like it's the local YMCA and start treating it like its name suggests. You could be conditioning yourself into insomnia just because your body expects you to do anything but sleep once it's in your bedroom.

Has the Spring Sprung on Your Mattress?
If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed at night because you can’t get comfortable, it may be time to replace your mattress. A mattress that sags in the middle can make your muscles feel sore. Get rid of your old mattress and invest in a new one to improve the quality of your sleep.

Sleep technology, like all other technologies, is constantly improving.  You wouldn't buy a computer that's five years old just like how you wouldn't want to sleep on a mattress that's made with antiquated technology or materials.  Spring or foam, the choice is ultimately up to you, but to more environmentally conscious individuals there's also a growing supply of organic bedding manufacturers.  Just be sure to prolong the life of your mattress by flipping and rotating it regularly.

Kick the Caffeine Habit
A very common reason why people have difficulty sleeping is because they drink too much caffeine, which is very stimulating to the mind and body. Tea, coffee and cola drinks are common sources of caffeine. If you have a hard time falling asleep at night, try reducing your caffeine intake. You may find that cutting back on caffeine during the day will help you feel sleepy in the evening.

Try to alter the drinks you habitually sip on throughout the day.  Try switching to juice instead of tea and water instead of cola when you're hydrating.  Set a caffeine free cutoff time for the day and stick to it.  Some people can comfortably sip a caffe latte at 5 pm and others can't touch any caffeine after noon.  Find out what time works best for your schedule and put it into action.

Additionally, there are several drinks that have the opposite effect as caffeine.  If you need to unwind but don't have the urge to do so on your own, try some sleepy time tea or milk.  Most sleep teas will include valerian root or some other known sleep aids and the tryptophan in the milk is a reputed sleep aid.

Don't Sweat Stress
Stress, anxiety and depression can contribute to difficulty in falling asleep. If you find yourself constantly revisiting the stressful events of the day, or worrying about the future, you may find that you hardly sleep at all. If stress or depression affect your ability to sleep over a period of weeks, it may be helpful to consult a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist for advice.

In addition to a weekly or monthly venting at the doctor's office, there are several natural supplements that can help reduce stress and the effects of ill moods.  St. John's wort is among the most well known anti-stress supplements, but DHA and melatonin are also good places to start looking. Tryptophan, the same active ingredient in milk that makes you sleepy, is also a popular supplement for its use as a sleep aid.

Stretch Yourself into Sleepiness
Take a calming break by walking in the evening for 30 or 40 minutes. During this time, don’t think about your problems, just focus on your surroundings. This will help your body and mind relax, and if it doesn't, there's always yoga classes that promise to do the same.

Besides being good for the body, yoga is pleasing to the mind because of the meditation that accompanies the introspective silence. Meditation alone can be very helpful for people who have difficulty falling asleep and some say its effect is easily doubled when it's coupled with the soothing effects of yoga. Meditation can be as simple as repeating a calming word or mantra or focusing attention on the breath. If any thought comes into your mind during the meditation, gently turn your mind’s attention back to your breathing or your mantra.

Don't Overlook Your 9-to-5
Many people who work shifts have difficulty falling asleep when their schedule changes. People who must constantly adjust to changing work shifts will feel exhausted much of the time. If at all possible, look for a job that will allow you to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

Your sleeping habits are just as the name implies - habits. By going to bed every night at a regular hour, you train your body to start feeling sleepy every night at the same time. Be sure to wind down your activities in the evening. Don’t start up on any new projects that will get your mind agitated or engaged. Avoid stimuli of all sorts and just focus on relaxing. If you still have difficulty falling asleep there may be a physical problem that is to blame. Consult a medical doctor if sleeplessness continues to be a problem.


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