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Posts from the ‘How to Get Better Sleep’ Category

Find Out In Under A Minute If You’re Getting Enough Sleep.

Watch this, and you’ll know if you’re getting the right amount of sleep in 59 seconds.

6 Reasons For Snoring

Snoring is possibly one of the most irritating sleep habits and it, oftentimes, disturbs more than just the person snoring. Most snorers tend to suffer from various sleep disorders, however, other environmental factors could contribute. If you find yourself or a family member is sawing logs on a regular basis, be sure to consider some of the potential causes below:

 

Top Six Reasons for Snoring:

  1. Sleep Apnea—Most individuals who find themselves with a chronic snoring problem also suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can cause other sleep problems and is related to many other snore-inducing issues.
  2. Being Overweight—Packing on extra pounds is more than just bad for your waistline; it can also reap havoc on your sleep cycle. This is most likely caused by bulky throat tissue that obstructs airways. Losing weight can ease many other symptoms caused by other sleep disorders, as well.
  3. Pillow Height—People tend to suffer from snoring if they are using too many or too few pillows with adequate support. The optimal sleep position with the correct pillow support is the key to blissful, snore-free slumber.
  4. Cold and Flu—Restricted airways are a main result of having a runny nose or sore throat. Be cautious as to which night time sleep aids you use and be sure to use a remedy that will open up airways, not throw you into a chemically-induced coma.
  5. Large Tonsils—A good sign children need their tonsils removed is chronic snoring.
  6. Sleep Position—Those who sleep on their stomachs are more likely to experience increased snoring and difficultly sleeping. Try sleeping on your back or side to open airways and relax the throat.

Your snoring could be attributed to any of these issues, if not a combination. Sometimes simple adjustments can be the perfect antidote to a nighttime full of snoring.

“Snoring – Adults: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. < http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003207.htm >.

 

5 Tips to a More Restful Vacation

While we go on vacation to get some much needed rest from the stresses of day-to-day life, it’s common to experience difficulty relaxing while away from home. Between the planning process and travel, there are a lot of obstacles to fully enjoying your time off. The biggest of these is difficulty sleeping while on vacation. A new sleep environment or simply too much excitement could be the cause of those sleepless nights in paradise. Follow these simple tips to truly unwind and make the most of your down time.

1. Plan relaxing activities: If a restless night is inevitable, plan some rejuvenating activities for the daytime. A soothing spa day consisting of steam rooms, massages and even an invigorating facial can make even the worse insomniac forget about that night of tossing and turning. If the spa isn’t in your budget, resting by the pool or ocean could be the perfect way to lull you in to an afternoon nap.

2. Maintain your sleep routine: It is tempting to engage in a more lax sleep routine when on vacation. Going to sleep at your normal bedtime and avoiding food and drinks that keep you awake at night can help ease the difficulty some experience when sleeping in a new space. Maintaining your normal routine, as difficult as it may be, is the best way to ensure a good night’s rest away from home.

3. Make your room familiar: Simple adjustments such as bringing your pillow or humidifier from home can make all the difference when sleeping in a new environment. You can also make simple modifications to your environment such as regulating your room temperature and controlling unwanted noise with the use of ear buds. By making your room more familiar, you can easily experience a more restful and fulfilling night’s sleep while on vacation.

4.Prepare yourself for time zone changes: Time zone changes and jet lag are known to reap havoc on tired travelers. Prepare for the change in time in advance by gradually going to bed closer to the time you would while on vacation in the new time zone. This process will ease the transition to a new time zone and leave you with less time yawning and more time enjoying your vacation.

5. Plan a Sleep Vacation: For those with serious sleep disorders, sleep retreats are being offered at many resorts in the United States. These intensive programs range in length but all have the goal of helping you have more fulfilling sleep. This fad is increasing in popularity and causing people to seriously assess and confront their sleep disorders. If you find yourself needing a vacation from your vacation, you should consider a sleep vacation.

Creating a Healthy Sleep Environment

All individuals are different when it comes to what helps them fall asleep. The following aspects of the sleep environment are all important in inducing sleep and being well rested.

Bedding and Comfort

Comfort is a very important aspect to consider when preparing for bed. It is important to have a comfortable mattress, a firm pillow appropriate to your sleep position and comfortable bedding that does not heat up easily. Mattresses come in a variety of fashions such as memory foam, latex and innerspring. Mattress toppers and covers are a cheaper alternative to buying a new mattress. Some have cooling technology to help with heat regulation.  Likewise, pillows come in memory foam, latex and natural-fill such as down, feather or synthetic fiber. Bedding should also be clean, cool, and comfortably soft. 1

Cleanliness

Keeping the room clean and uncluttered is very important when going to sleep. Having paperwork, mail, clothes or dishes everywhere can cause stress and make you too alert to fall asleep. By only using the room for sleep, you will reduce clutter and train your brain to associate the room with sleeping. Decorating with peaceful pictures or photos from an enjoyed vacation may help with relaxation and induce sleep. 1 Painting the room in peaceful colors such as shades of blue, green, or purple have also proven to help individuals relax.

Lighting

In the National Sleep Foundation’s Annual American Sleep Poll in 2011, 95 percent of individuals surveyed between 13 to 63 years old reported going to sleep with the television on. 2 Sleeping with the television on can, not only, keep the brain too alert for sleep but also provide a great deal of light. Light reduces natural melatonin production in the brain, which helps to induce sleep. 2 Even hiding digital clocks may prevent clock watching because of the light output. If you need absolute dark to fall and stay asleep, you may consider buying dark curtains or drapes to block streetlights or sunlight from coming in the windows.

Temperature

The ideal sleeping temperature is around 65 degrees. Sleeping in too warm or too cool environments can force the body to exert energy on sweating or shivering, keeping the body too alert for sleep. Figure out the right mixture of sleep clothes, blankets, and room temperature to make you the most comfortable at night.

Noise

If you have ever incorporated the sound of the television or the alarm clock into a dream, then you understand how noise can affect sleep. Individuals’ noise sensitivity varies. Some may enjoy ambient sound or soft music when falling asleep. Sound should be at a low level and consistent because sudden sounds can spike heart rates and cause waking. You will most likely adjust to certain noises as you cope with them over time such as city traffic or the ticking of a clock. 1

Bed Partners

In the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America Poll, 38 percent of participants reported that they had problems in their relationship due to their sleep partner’s sleep disorder. 2 Even peaceful sleepers can toss and turn 50 to 60 times in one night. 1 If a snoring bed partner is a problem, elevating their head with pillows, or an adjustable bed may be helpful. Using earplugs may also help block out the sound. Another disruptive bed partner could be your pet. Pets can make noise and move all through the night (they don’t need eight hours of sleep because they sleep throughout the day). It is best to train pets to sleep in a pet bed.

Overall, adjusting your sleep environment can make major differences in your quality of sleep. These adjustments are very simple and easily managed. The sleep environment is often overlooked by troubled sleepers and can improve sleep disorder symptoms and overall well-being.

Bibliography:

1. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

2. National Sleep Foundation—The Sleep Environment; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/the-sleep-environment

Natural Sleep Remedies

Natural Sleep Remedies

Natural remedies to help induce sleep have been used for thousands of years all over the world. Natural sleep remedies tend to be used in teas, supplements,  as well as forms of aromatherapy, and have been proven to help relax the mind and body.

Melatonin

Melatonin is the best know natural sleep remedy. Store bought supplements work by mimicking the natural melatonin that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain that helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin lowers core temperature and causes individuals to feel drowsy. 1 Melatonin is popular amongst older individuals because, as we age, we produce less melatonin naturally. Taking a higher dosage of melatonin will not necessarily help you to sleep better because the smallest dosage sold is at least three times higher than that which exists naturally in the human body. 1

Valerian

In the form of a root, valerian is widely used in both Europe and the United States. 2 Valerian also helps with anxiety and most individuals who use it have reported falling asleep quicker and feeling more refreshed upon awakening. Some users report feeling stimulated when using valerian while others experience headache. There is evidence that using valerian consistently over a short period of time may be more effective than using sporadically.

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps to increase serotonin, which helps to regulate relaxation and sleep. Tryptophan is not sold as a supplement but can be easily incorporated into the diet. Certain foods contain tryptophan naturally and are said to be good bedtime snacks. Dairy foods like cheese and milk are often teamed with carbohydrates like crackers or grain cereal to help induce sleep.

Hops

Hops is the dried flower used in brewing beer that has been shown to aid in anxiety, excitability, insomnia and various other disorders. Hops can be used as tea alone or teamed with valerian to help induce sleep. Avoid using hops as a sleep remedy when pregnant or suffering from depression as they tend to make symptoms worse.

Catnip

The flower of the plant catnip is often used as a tea to help with anxiety and insomnia. The same remedy that keeps your cat preoccupied for hours can help you get to sleep sooner. Catnip is said to work similarly to valerian and is often teamed with other natural sleep aids. Drinking catnip tea in excess can cause sickness and headache and should be avoided. 3

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils extracted from roots, bark, leaves and seeds of plants. These oils are used through massaging into the skin, inhaling steam, or in bath water. 3 Lavender and chamomile are popular plants used in both aromatherapy, but can also be used in teas.

Caution: Many natural sleep aids come in teas that will sometimes contain caffeine. Teas can also be extremely sugary, so it is recommended to use honey as a sweetener because it contains tryptophan. Read the label on any tea you are considering buying as a sleep aid before you purchase as to not counteract any sleep aids with stimulants.

Natural sleep aids, while helpful, can prove harmful when used long term. Individuals should only turn to natural sleep aids once all other sleep methods such as making the room conducive to sleep and changing bedding, mattress and pillows have been attempted.

Bibliography:

1. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

2. Carskadon, Mary A. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1993. 248

3. WebMD—Natural Sleep Aids and Remedies; http://women.webmd.com/pharmacist-11/natural-sleep-remedies

Top Ten Tips for Better Sleep

1. Establish a Bedtime Routine and Sleep-Wake Schedule

Establishing a bedtime routine will assist in making your body and mind aware that it is time to go to sleep. This can be established through taking a hot bath followed by a bedtime snack, listening to soothing music or reading a book. In order to establish your sleep-wake routine, you must exercise the same sleep-wake time everyday (even weekends). This adapts your body to understanding how much time it needs to be asleep and how much time it needs to be awake. 1 Make sure to establish your bedtime at a time that allows the optimal sleep time required that doesn’t hinder the next day’s schedule.

2. Create a tranquil sleep environment.

A tranquil sleep environment is vital to relaxing the mind and body to induce sleep. This can be done by dimming the lights in your home about an hour prior to bedtime. Buy soft sheets with a high thread count and, perhaps, a soothing color to not distract your mind. Security may also be a contributing factor to sleep troubles. Add an extra lock to the front door or an extra smoke alarm. A clean, well decorated bedroom can also help coax you to sleep by helping to avoid stress. Finally, lighting is extremely important when going to sleep. You can adjust the amount of light that comes in your room by hanging dark curtains or putting a towel under the crack in the door. Also, avoid watching television to go to sleep as it is too much for the mind to handle in order to relax and the lighting can be distracting from sleeping. 2

3. Limit your time in the bedroom.

The idea behind this is that you won’t associate negative or stressful things like working with the bedroom. Leave the bedroom for sleeping and your bedtime ritual, so you will have the ability to free your mind when wanting to go to sleep.

4. Value Sleep.

Sleep deprivation is a growing problem in the world today because people tend to not understand the importance sleep has. If one values the time they are spending relaxing and healing their bodies and minds through the sleep process, finding the time to do so will be easier.

5. Exercise regularly.

Engaging in exercise within three hours of intended bedtime or sporadically will reduce too much adrenaline and cause an individual to be too alert at bedtime. Body temperatures are increase a great deal during exercise and take around six hours to drop back to our normal body’s temperature. This drop in temperature can be very relaxing and help to induce sleep. 1

6. Pay attention to what you eat and drink.

Avoid consuming any substances that can harm your ability to sleep such as caffeine, alcohol and heavy foods that can cause acid reflux. While alcohol and a heavy meal will initially make you feel tired, they will ultimately cause a disruption in the sleep cycle. Additionally, cigarettes work as a stimulant and will disrupt your attempts to sleep as well as the many other negative risks associated with smoking.

7. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.

Everyone has different preferences as far as softness and firmness of mattresses and pillows; however, all mattresses and pillows must provide adequate support for the entire body. Often times the problem with individuals’ sleep is that their mattress is worn out. Look for these signs to determine if it is time to buy a new mattress: discomfort when lying down and aches when waking up, visible signs such as stains, sagging or lumps, you can hear the box springs when lying down, the bed is over 10 years old or if you have allergies and have slept on the mattress for several years without a protective cover. 2 The correct pillow is equally important and can make the difference in your night’s sleep. Consider the position you sleep in to determine the thickness and firmness you require.

8. Don’t sleep with your pet.

Many pet owners today find it comforting to sleep with their pet or pets when it can be very disrupting to sleep. Their movements and noises can be very distracting when trying to go to sleep (especially if your dog likes to hog the bed like mine). Unless you absolutely need the pet sleeping near you, it is best to let them have their own bed.

9. Don’t bring stress into the bedroom.

Choosing to leave your phone or work papers out of the bedroom area allows you to unwind and forget about the day’s stresses. Additionally, leave any negative interaction out of the bedroom and do not watch the news to fall asleep as that will add stress to the concept of sleeping.

10. Consult a Sleep Specialist (if necessary)

If your sleep problems cannot be solved by the steps above, consider seeing a sleep specialist. You may have a sleep disorder if you are having chronic trouble sleeping or consistent problems.

Bibliography:

1. The Sleep Foundation—Healthy Sleep Tips http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/healthy-sleep-tips

2. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

What is Comfort?

Comfort can be defined as a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint, but what does this mean for you when you’re looking for a mattress? You spend on average a third of each day in bed, which also means we spend an average of one-third of our lives in bed. When looking at these numbers you begin to see just how important a comfortable mattress along with a good night’s sleep really is. This leads to the question of what is more comfortable for you, a firm mattress or a soft one? This can depend on different variables such as what position you sleep in (back, side, or stomach), medical conditions, chronic pain, and age just to list a few.

Firm mattresses are often documented for helping with and relieving back pain due to its ability to give adequate support to the spine during sleep, but not known to be as comfortable due to the lack of conformability. Some recent studies are finding more evidence that medium-firm mattresses are alleviating more pain than a firm; this is usually attributed to the combination of support and conformability. The combination of support and conformability is like getting the best of both all wrapped up in one mattress, this option is often considered the more comfortable mattress for buyers.

Then, there are still some that prefer a soft mattress over firmer options. Soft mattresses allow your body to sink down and give the feeling of floating on a cloud. While this feeling is often longed for, it’s not always suitable for everyone. People with back and neck pain find that they do not get enough support and elderly people report that they have trouble turning over at night, and getting out of the bed in the morning.

The bottom line in finding comfort in a mattress is knowing what is going to work best for your body; there isn’t any one mattress suitable for every person. When finding a mattress most comfortable for you it is vital that you take time and do the research and make sure to read the reviews to know what you are getting.

Feature, Stephanie WatsonWebMD. “The Best Mattress for a Good Night’s Sleep.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/best-mattress-good-nights-sleep

“Mattresses and (Back) Pain Relief.” Best Mattresses For Pain Relief and Bad Back 2013 : Sleeping Position and Firmness : Memory Foam Latex Air : Soft Hard : Hip Shoulder Problem. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
http://www.sleeplikethedead.com/mattress-bad-back.html

Temperature Regulation, Sleep and Outlast® Technology

Heat regulation is one of the most overlooked aspects of sleep and comfort. Many people complaining of insomnia simply need to adjust the thermostat and their type of bedding. This adjustment can make the minor change in comfort needed to help coax you to sleep. Researchers say that those suffering from chronic insomnia tend to have higher body temperatures. 1

Most sleep researchers believe that an environment conducive to sleep includes a comfortable mattress and pillow, clean surroundings and a cool, comfortable place to sleep. When combining these factors with the body’s natural tendency to cool down, restful sleep is easily managed.

Humans sleep best in their “thermal comfort zone”, a temperature range that prevents the body from exerting energy on shivering or sweating. 2 The thermal comfort zone is thought to be between 54 degrees 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 3 When the body’s core temperature of 98.6 degrees fluctuates just 6 degrees up or down, the body is subject to fever or shivering. 4

This temperature range may seem pretty extreme, but its application is for all different people. For instance, you and your bed partner may differ on what you feel the most comfortable temperature is, which will make compensating for each person’s optimal comfort more difficult. Weight amongst other factors can affect the temperature that best suits an individual’s sleeping state.

Many aspects can affect room and body temperature including air conditioning and heating, mattress type, sleep clothing and choice in bedding. The correct combination of these aspects will help give you the most restful sleep possible.

Your body is prompted to enter REM sleep once your body reaches its lowest temperature. Body temperature must drop 0.5 degrees Celsius to enter REM sleep. 4 This needed drop in temperature is why some find it more difficult to fall asleep in warm summer months.

It is suggested that turning the heat down at bedtime in the winter and turning the air conditioning up slightly in summer months will help induce sleep. The correct mattress can completely change your level of comfort at night. Consider purchasing a mattress with cooling gel or heat regulation technology. Also, sleeping in pajamas that do not lock heat in and are not too thick can help with temperature regulation as well as comfort. Another way to regulate temperature during the night is through the correct bedding. Sleeping with extremely thick blankets and sheets that do not breathe can cause you to overheat at night.

Outlast® Technologies

Outlast® material was originally created to prevent astronauts from overheating in space in temperatures up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. 1 Hopefully you will not encounter such temperatures in your bed. The technology behind Outlast® was awarded with the “Certified Space Technology” seal of approval in 1991 from the Space Foundation. It has been improving upon temperature regulating technology for more than 20 years.

The microfibers imbedded into mattress covers, sheets, blanks and pillow cases will assist in regulating body temperature. This is done by taking in body heat, storing it and then releasing it when your body cools down. This process keeps the body at the optimal temperature for restful, undisturbed sleep.

Sleeping in temperatures that are too hot will cause fragmented and restless sleep. When teamed with other sleep disorders, a hot sleep environment can be detrimental to getting a good night’s sleep.

Through the use of Outlast® bedding and other environmental adjustments, it is very easy to achieve a restful night’s sleep.

Bibliography:

1. The New York Times—The Claim: Cold Temperatures Improve Sleep; http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/health/04real.html

2. Carskadon, Mary A. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1993.

3. National Sleep Foundation—The Sleep Environment; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/the-sleep-environment

4. Outlast® Technologies—Basic Training; http://quiz.Outlast®.com/en/welcome-to-basic-training/themen/bedding/?tn=6&tp=i&ts=2&qa=00000

Wake Up Refreshed: Six Tips to Help Start the Day

Around 20 percent of Americans report regularly getting less than six hours of sleep a night. 1 This sleep deprivation results in groggy and irritable workmates, friends and family members who seem to have a chronic “case of the Monday’s”. Most people simply try to stay awake have their morning cup of coffee… followed by their afternoon cup of coffee. Simple adjustments to schedule and lifestyle can leave you refreshed and ready to take on the day.

1. Your Relationship with the Alarm Clock

It is best to set your alarm clock for the latest moment possible to wake up. Slapping the snooze button every five minutes to get a little more sleep will result in fragmented sleep that will make you more tired when finally rolling out of bed. 2 Also, consider getting a less “alarming” alarm. Some companies offer alarm clocks that gradually get louder or have gentle nature sounds such as babbling brooks or waterfalls to help you gradually come out of sleep. As soon as you hear the alarm, swing your legs over the side of the bed and take some deep breaths. 2

2. Exercise

Exercising as soon as you wake up can give your mind and body the burst of energy it needs to start the day. Even a brisk walk can wake you up more than dragging your feet to the coffee maker. Simply walking around the house or out to get the paper can give your body the kick-start it needs. Be sure not to sacrifice needed sleep time in order to exercise. 2

3. Start with a Splash

I like to start the day by washing my face with cool water. The water will shock the face cells into action and cause you to even look more awake. Taking a hot shower can also wake the body up and help you to get your day started.

4. See the Daylight

Keeping the house dark to let yourself “adjust” only makes the mind more tired and convinced that it is still night time. By opening curtains and blinds and allowing natural daylight in, you will slow the brain’s production of melatonin and begin the mind’s wake up process. This is more difficult in the winter as the sun rises later and can contribute to seasonal affective disorder or winter depression. 3 Light and darkness help to regulate the sleep-wake cycle and doing this on a regular basis can make waking up easier.

5. Watch Your Medications

Some sleep or cold medications can cause drowsiness for up to eight hours. If taking such a medication, be sure to allow yourself to sleep the full amount of time the effects will be present. Trying to fight drowsiness brought on by medication will be very difficult.

6. Get Enough Sleep

The most simple, yet hardest way to improve mood and ability to wake up is by simply getting enough restful sleep. If continuously waking up under-rested, fix the problem by going to sleep earlier. This can be done by regulating your biological clock or circadian rhythm. 3 Using natural sleep aids or other psychological methods to fall asleep quicker can help regulate the biological clock quicker.

The best way to acclimate the body and mind with waking up earlier is to keep the same sleep schedule on weekends. Simple lifestyle adjustments can help the body and mind to wake up and take on the day. While waking up refreshed is important, ensuring you have had the proper rest period is what matters most. Without the adequate amount of sleep, no amount of caffeine, exercise or lifestyle changes will truly stop the effects of sleep deprivation.

Bibliography:

1. WebMD—Toll of Sleep Loss in America http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/toll-of-sleep-loss-in-america

2. WebMD—Trouble Waking Up; http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/trouble-waking-up

3. USA Today—Can you become a morning person? Yes, but it’s not easy; http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/health/story/2011-11-21/Can-you-become-a-morning-person-Yes-but-its-not-easy/51338980/1

Fall Asleep Quicker

The term “counting sheep” is a term referring to the action shepherds over a hundred years ago would perform of counting their sheep at the beginning and end of the day to ensure they had them all. The only connection to sleep I can see this having is that the activity was so monotonous that the shepherds would have to count the sheep in twenties and keep pebbles in their pockets to keep track of the number they had counted. This phrase has been passed down through generations as a remedy to insomnia and is almost always associated with sleep.

While most people today have retired the traditional psychological methods to go to sleep and turned to sleeping pills, there are still contemporary and natural methods that have been proven to help individuals get to sleep.

The biggest mistake people tend to make when attempting to fall asleep is trying too hard. Relaxation is the key to getting to sleep and having a restful sleep period.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

This is perhaps the easiest and most important aspect that can aid in difficulty falling asleep. Most children are encouraged to sleep through the nightly routine established by their parents. Replicate this activity by reading an enjoyable book with only a reading lamp on each night before bed. 1

Counting Beads

If you aren’t an animal person, counting beads on a strand might work as an interesting alternative to counting sheep. The idea behind counting beads is the same as that of counting sheep. Repetitive stimuli such as this have been shown to be soothing and inspire boredom. The exercise also tires the brain by causing you to use your right brain to see the image and your left brain to count. 2

Yoga

Yoga’s whole purpose is to relax and exercise the entire body and mind. Therefore, light Yoga stretching is ideal for trying to fall asleep. Simple Yoga breathing exercises regularly before bed and very simple poses that relieve stress can lull one into sleep. Various yoga poses can relax the body and mind and don’t even require a mat or getting out of bed. 1

Rocking

There is something entirely soothing about sitting in a rocking chair or lounging on a hammock. So soothing, in fact, that light rocking has been proven to help individuals fall asleep. In the same way that a baby is rocked to sleep by his or her parents, adults also appreciate and benefit from the rocking sensation. 2

Temperature Changes

Mark Twain was known to have practiced taking a hot bath and then lying on the cool bathroom floor to help fight his insomnia. Air and body temperatures have a great effect on individuals’ sleep cycle, especially REM sleep. This need for temperature regulation is typical and can be mocked by a cooling or gel infused mattress. Many people experience difficulty sleeping due to a mattress that is too hot or too cold. This is also why you may turn your pillow to the cold side for needed relief from body heat buildup in the mattress and pillow. 2

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This is simply done by tensing and relaxing muscles. Beginning with the toes, squeeze your muscle tightly for 5-10 seconds and releasing to relax for 15-20 seconds. Work your way up your body’s muscle groups and end with the eyes to sooth muscles and tire your mind. 1

Mental Imagery

This is a very popular method for relaxation and sleep. Simply imagine yourself in a relaxing situation or place such as lying on a beach, watching a waterfall or even simply listening to music. When you exercise all of your senses to fully imagine the situation the body and mind will become serene. 1

Bibliography:

1. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

2. Carskadon, Mary A. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1993. Page 149