Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tips for Sleeping Better

My most recent Chronic Illness/Chronic Pain Support Group meeting was on sleep.  It is an area that many people struggle with, especially those of us with illness and/or pain. I am sharing with you my list of tips to help you sleep better. 

Tips for sleeping better

  1. Reduce caffeine, especially late in the day.
  2. Limit alcohol- it may help you fall asleep, but the quality of the sleep will be poor.
  3. Eliminate smoking- nicotine is a stimulant.
  4. Don't eat a large meal right before bedtime. Eat a small nutritious bedtime snack of protein and complex carbs, such as fruit and yogurt.
  5. Exercise early in the day.
  6. Take rest breaks during the day if you need to, but don't nap. Naps can reduce the quantity and quality of sleep at night.
  7. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, whether you are working or not.
  8. Treat any medical condition that may be affecting your sleep.
  9. Make sure your bed and pillow are comfortable. Use extra pillows as needed to support knees or arms.
  10. Eliminate noise or mask it with a white noise sound machine.
  11. Keep your bedroom dark or wear a mask over your eyes.
  12. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature- some people sleep better if the room is cool.
  13. Reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex only, so you associate the bed with relaxation, not with work.
  14. Reduce stress during the day. Don't take problems to bed. If your mind is thinking about a problem, tell yourself that you will have time enough to work on it the next day, and turn your mind to relaxation.
  15. Do what you need to do to make your body comfortable- moisten eyes and mouth, etc.
  16. Give yourself time to wind down.
  17. Establish a bedtime ritual that will signal to your body that it is time to relax. Some ideas include a warm bath and relaxing music.
  18. Don't force yourself to sleep, or get anxious if you aren't falling asleep.
  19. If you can't sleep, get up and do something relaxing such as reading until you are tired and can sleep.
  20. Use relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing.
  21. Imagine yourself floating on a cloud, or on a raft on the sea. Visualize yourself going down an escalator, or floating down on a leaf. The lower you go, the more relaxed you become.
  22. If sleeping difficulties persist, consult your doctor.
  23. If you have nightmares, try this: Write down your nightmare. Write a new, more pleasant ending. Repeat the new ending over and over in your mind for 3 minutes before going to bed.

    Pleasant dreams! 

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