With today’s busy lifestyles, many of us feel
compelled to squeeze more time from a day than it was ever meant
to give. To often we choose to trim a little time off one or both
ends of our bedtime schedules in a effort to fit everything in.
Ironically, the same stress that compels many of us to trim our
sleep time increases our need for its recuperative effects. Also,
problems getting or staying asleep have become common. In either
case, the end result is usually a state of sleep deprivation.
Beyond the unpleasantness of feeling fatigued and
muddle headed, sleep deprivation has a more serious side-effect.
Recent studies have shown that it mimics the aging process. Feelings
of fatigue, reduced reaction times, performance declines, mental
dullness, and a general malaise are common symptoms. Although most
of these "aging" effects are likely reversible, it is
unclear what the long term effects of chronic sleep deprivation
Attempts to compensate for the effects of sleep deprivation
with caffeine or other stimulants can further detract from restful
sleep the next night. Similarly, using relaxants, such as alcohol
or medications to induce sleep, can interfere with the natural rhythms
of its four stages, further worsening the effects of the deprivation.
Getting enough high quality sleep at night is a wise priority for
people wanting to get the most from themselves and from life. Practicing
good sleep hygiene is a key element of ensuring this. This simply
means taking steps to ensure that the conditions are right for a
Try the following. If after a week or so you are
still having trouble getting enough sleep, consult your physician
or an alternate health care provider with expertise in sleep disorders.
- Avoid all stimulants during the last half of the day. Coffee,
tea, chocolate, and tobacco are the usual culprits here.
Avoid heavy meals a few hours before bedtime as a large meal can
delay sleep onset. Some find that a light snack before bedtime helps
- Create a pre-sleep ritual for yourself. Anything that begins
to slow your day down, and helps you relax could work. A warm
bath two hours before bed, reading, relaxing with an herbal tea,
or stretching are often helpful.
- Go to bed at the same time each night and awaken at the same
time each day. Your body has an internal clock and it responds
best to a regular sleep schedule.
- Ensure the room you sleep in is quiet. Noise from streets, radios,
TV, or neighbors, especially if it is episodic and unpredictable,
can make it difficult to get to sleep and can make sleep unrestful.
Often the low, constant "white noise" from a fan or
untuned radio can help mask street noise.
- Ensure the room you sleep in is dark. The body is very sensitive
to light and sets it’s internal clocks by it. If you sleep
in a room that is bathed in light from streets, you may be playing
havoc with your biological clock. Darken your room or wear a sleeping
- Don’t "try" to get to sleep, just lay back and
let be what will be. Trying to sleep is a major cause of insomnia.
Keep clocks out of sight to prevent clock watching.
- If you have a poor night’s sleep, get out of bed at your
normal time anyway and stay active until your normal sleep time
the next evening.
Naps can be very beneficial for most of us. For people who have
trouble getting to sleep at night, however, napping can be part
of the problem. If you suffer from insomnia, try forgoing naps for
a week to see if that makes a difference for you.
Copyright © 2002 Phoenix Life-Coaching.
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