Thursday, July 22, 2010

45 Easy Sleeping Techniques

You might have seen or even tried some of these 45 easy sleeping techniques before, but check out the list there may be something that will open your eyes to a new way to fall asleep at night.

1. Go to the doctor. If you are suffering from insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea or severe sleep deprivation that causes you to have trouble concentrating and staying awake during the day, you may need to be monitored at a sleep center in order to diagnosis your sleep disorder. Over time, lack of sleep will take a toll on your health and has caused people to suffer from heart problems, depression, gain weight and diabetes.

2. Take a warm bath. Taking a warm bath each night could be part of your night routine (18), but remember not to make it too warm. You don't want to increase your body temperature, it will take you longer to get to sleep. Using aromatherapy with bath oils that make you drowsy like lavender, lavender is a great sleep aide and used in many products. Also try using Epsom salts, they are used to get rid of toxins.

3. Get a massage. Whether you receive a massage from your partner or a professional it is a great way to relax and release tension. Several studies have shown how massage therapy not only lessened lower back pain and headaches, but also helped patients sleep better and lessened their anxiety and depression. No partner, you can also give yourself a mini massage, focusing on the muscle groups that are within reach. Using small, circular movements with your fingers and hands, you can massage your scalp, forehead, face, neck and upper shoulders, lower back, arms, legs, and feet. There are also a variety of massaging devices available in various price ranges that can help extend your reach or provide soothing heat as well as relaxing vibrations.

4. Sleep music and nature sounds:
  • Rhythmic drumming creates a hypnotic effect to help induce sleep

  • The sound of the vibraphone is calming, and may reduce stress

  • Rain acts as a white noise machine that masks household noises such as refrigerators, heaters, and creaking floors(28)

  • The booming sound of thunder helps to mask loud stereos, barking dogs, and traffic

  • The sound of steady, rhythmic ocean waves provide a sensation of relaxation and calm.

  • Birds and wind chimes are comforting sounds that provide a relaxing and stress free atmosphere

  • An atmosphere of rain and thunder may be especially relaxing, because one feels they cannot go out to work

  • Ocean waves may remind one of a relaxing and calm vacation

  • You can also listen to music in the following genres: easy listening, soul, jazz, classical or instrumental.

    5. Warm milk. Okay, you probably feel this is an old wives tale but milk is loaded with tryptophan (7) and tryptophan is an amino acid that causes drowsiness. Making it warm just makes it more calming.

    6. Decaffeinated herbal tea. First of all, you need to make sure that you are getting the proper herbs in the tea. Most people know that chamomile is the number one tea which helps them to fall asleep but they may not realize that other types of tea also help as well. Lavender and hibiscus also have properties which help induce sleepiness. You can either try these individually or perhaps use them as a blend. Not only is it going to taste great and help you to sleep but the aromatherapy that you will get by holding this tea under your nose helps to put you in a relaxed state of mind.

    [caption id="attachment_232" align="alignright" width="384" caption="Limit Caffeine for easy sleep"]coffeesleep[/caption]

    7. Bedtime snack with tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential Amino Acid. Tryptophan is a component of many plant and animal proteins, and a normal part of the diet that humans must get from outside sources. It is a precursor (starting material) for serotonin from which our brains make serotonin, which is then used to calm you down and make you sleepy. Foods with tryptophan: Eggs, seeds (sunflower), turkey, nuts (peanuts), cereals (especially cereal with soy milk), cottage cheese and pumpkin to name a few.

    8. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Caffeine is closely associated with coffee, but it is also found in tea, soda and chocolate. Consuming excessive caffeine throughout the day or too close to bedtime can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep and can make it difficult to stay asleep. This is due to the fact that caffeine stays in the body for three to five hours. Those wishing to avoid caffeine-induced sleep deprivation should limit their intake to 200mg (two cups of coffee) and avoid consumption after morning hours. The stimulating drug in tobacco is nicotine. Smoking and other smokeless tobacco products are associated with sleep disruption and a reduction in total sleep time. Studies have shown that tobacco users experience more daytime sleepiness than nonsmokers. Drinking alcohol shortly before bedtime can cause you to wake up more during the night, often because of excessive urination. If you do choose to drink, do so in moderation and try to avoid drinking late at night.

    9. Bedroom well ventilated and not dry. If you have a forced air furnace your bedroom maybe too dry and cause you to be congested during the night. You might need to purchase a humidifier to moisturize the air and allow you to breath easier during the night. A bedroom that is poorly ventilated may have mold growth, CO2 concentration and dust mites. Open a window, use a fan, house fan or ceiling fan to keep your bedroom well ventilated.

    10. Bedroom not too warm. Ideal temperature for your bedroom for a good night sleep is 65 degrees.

    11. Bedroom should be dark. Any light in your room will disrupt your sleep/wake cycle. Your body produces serotonin which regulates sleep, reduces pain and appetite, and generally calms you down and improves your mood. Serotonin and melatonin are essential neurotransmitters with distinct roles in regulating mood and health. Serotonin is a natural stimulant. Melatonin is a sedative derived from serotonin. Melatonin regulates healthy sleep cycles. It is produced in response to darkness and results in nightly sleep. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains that insufficient serotonin, a building block of melatonin, can cause insomnia by preventing melatonin production. Melatonin is available as a supplement and can be purchased at your local health food store, pharmacy or grocery store. If you can not control external light from coming into your room you can either get black out curtains or an eye mask.

    12. Bedroom noise free. There are many noises that can keep us from getting good sleep. A partner who snores, sounds from other rooms in your home, a barking dog, noisy neighbors and traffic are some of the culprits. Some noise we have control over and some we don't ...while we can turn off the TV and turn our partner over on their side, we can't control our neighbors as well as noise when we travel whether if it's a hotel room, B & B or a relatives home. If you are away try turning on the fan or wear some good ear plugs.

    13. Bedroom for sleep and sex only. Every other activity should be left at the door and that means TV, computer, reading, work, video games, texting and anything else that will keep your mind unable to turn off and go to sleep. How do expect to fall sleep when you are thinking about how Mario is going to beat Ludwig Von Koopa?

    14. Bedroom needs good bed/sheets. If you bed is over 20 years old, it could be time to get a new one. If you can't afford a new one and your mattress is still in relatively new condition a memory foam mattress pad could help you sleep better. A memory foam mattress pad conforms to your body and reduces pressure points. Your sheets should be soft and clean and your bed should be made everyday because it is much nicer when you get into a clean made bed!

    15. Sleep on your back. Sleeping on your back may not be your favorite sleeping position, but it still work wonders for your body. Sleeping in a straight position on your back will give your internal organs more space to breath. Since your body is in a sleeping state, the organs will have more time to “breathe” and when you wake up, you’ll feel better. It’s also recommended to have a pillow under your knee to maintain the natural curve of your body. This position is ideal for those who are suffering from pain in their lower back.

    16. Exercise during the day. Try to exercise in the morning hours or at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. It will take you a few hours to calm down your heart rate and reduce your body temperature.

    17. Nightly yoga stretches. One of the best things to do at night before going to sleep is to get your legs up. Nope, it doesn’t have to be a headstand or handstand (it works better, actually, if it’s not). Inverting has many benefits to our minds and bodies. It improves our circulation, calms our nervous system, supports the back and a whole lot more. Sometimes most practical for us, is that getting our legs up and inverting helps get rid of that mental chatter that rears its head at night when we really need sleep. If you find yourself replaying the events of your day or planning/strategizing about tomorrow, these poses may be for you. Who shouldn’t invert: if you’re pregnant, suffering from glaucoma, have low or high blood pressure, you should avoid inversion and check with your doctor about other sleep-aiding techniques/tools.

    Basic Inversion: The idea is to get your legs up in a way that’s comfortable for you to stay there for 3-5 minutes, possibly working up to 10 minutes. You’ll want to get ready for bed first – change your clothes, brush your teeth, etc., so that you can sleepily crawl into bed after this pose. Here are some options:

    a. Legs in a Chair – Lying on the floor, with your hips very close to the front edge of the chair. Let your legs rest in the seat of the chair (or on an ottoman). Draw your shoulders down from your ears and let your arms fall open at your sides. Start by noticing your breath, and allowing your exhale to linger. Making sure to breathe in and out through the nose with your lips sealed. Stay here for 5-10 minutes. When you’re ready gently roll to one side and rest for 3 more breaths. Gently press back up and crawl into bed without a lot of movement or fuss.

    [caption id="attachment_231" align="alignright" width="203" caption="Yoga for easy sleeping"]yoga[/caption]

    b. Legs up the Headboard – This one’s inspired by one of my clients who mentioned that some nights when she can’t fall asleep or get back to sleep, she stays in bed, turns around and rests her legs on her headboard. If your low back needs extra support, consider placing your pillow under your hips. Continue with the same breathing as (a.). As you begin to feel more sleepy, you’re already in bed – ease over to one side and back to sleep.

    c. Legs up the Wall – Lying on the floor near a wall and letting your legs rest up the wall. You may want a pillow underneath your hips/low back for support. You want to be close enough to the wall that your legs are resting there, and you’re not feeling strain in the low back…usually about 6-8 inches from the wall is good. Follow same instructions as (a) for breathing and coming out of the pose.

    18. Establish a nighttime routine. Get to bed and wake up the same time every day will readjust your sleep/wake cycle and eventually you will wake up without an alarm! There is more to a nighttime routine than just deciding on when to go to retire and when to rise. Your routine needs to start at least an hour before you retire. Why? According to the National Sleep Foundation you need at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night. So if you get up to get ready for work at 6am, you need to be asleep no later than 11pm. That means you need to start your nightly routine around 10pm in order to be in bed and asleep at 11. At 10 you can read, take your warm bath, get your jammies on, have a cup of decaffeinated tea or your nightly snack, go to the bathroom and brush your teeth. If it takes you 15-20 minutes to actually fall asleep you need to be in bed by 10:40pm and a little earlier if you are planning on having some intimate time (29). Turn on your fan, white noise or sleep music (4) to keep your mind off your daily stress or try a hypnotic tape (24) do your deep breathing (25) or anything that will help you calm down, relax and get drowsy.

    19. Power naps only. Do you stay up tossing and turning? Well taking a nap too late in the day or too long might be the reason. If you are going to nap take a power nap. A power nap is only 20 minutes long and make sure you take it before 4pm.

    20. No illuminated objects in your bedroom. That means TV, computer or a digital clock. Remember light disturbs your sleep/wake cycle.

    21. Count sheep. Counting sheep or anything that will keep your mind off of your work load, kid schedules or your bills will help you to fall asleep.

    22. Sleeping direction. East: Sleeping with head resting in the East enhances memory, health and spiritual inclination. South: This is believed to provide sound sleep and increase the wealth and prosperity in the household.

    23. Progressive Relaxation: With some hypnotic tapes (24) they will teach you deep breathing (25) and progressive relaxation. Progressive relaxation is a technique for reducing anxiety by alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles. Because of the feelings of warmth and heaviness are felt in the relaxed muscle after it is tensed, a mental relaxation is felt as a result.

    24. Hypnotic tapes or CDs. I wrote an article regarding self-hypnosis for sleep. Through deep breathing, progressive relaxation, visualization (27) and repetitive suggestion the subject becomes drowsy and for me 9 times out of 10 I fell asleep before the tape ended.

    25. Deep breathing. Take 3-4 deep breathes hold each for 10 seconds then exhale gradually counting backwards from 8-1 and tell yourself to relax, relax.

    26. Read a boring book. The duller the better..try a text book on a subject you hated in high history! I'd be out in few pages.

    27. Visualization. The hypnotic tape I listen to you need to visualize that you are floating on a cloud and a warm breeze is blowing over your are totally relaxed floating....get the picture. I am sure any happy place would do.

    28. White noise. White noise is a random signal (or process) with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal contains equal power within a fixed bandwidth at any center frequency. White noise is a common synthetic noise source used for sound masking by a tinnitus masker. White noise is a particularly good source signal for masking devices as it contains higher frequencies in equal volumes to lower ones, and so is capable of more effective masking for high pitched ringing tones most commonly perceived by tinnitus sufferers.

    Don't want to buy a white noise machine...a fan will work just as well.

    29. Sex. With your partner or alone having sex will help you sleep, because it releases endorphins and you feel better about yourself. And at least it will take your mind off other things for a few minutes. Americans on average have sex 3-15 minutes.

    30. Take a little walk. Where I live during the summer it doesn't get dark until 9:30pm. So going for a little walk and enjoying nature is great as long as you feel safe doing it. The best time to walk is in the morning between 6-8:30am. How does morning light improve sleep? The light helps to regulate your biological clock and keep it on track. Direct sunlight outdoors for at least one-half hour produces the most benefit. Bonus: Walking during the day helps you to get your vitamin D and lose weight too! (39)

    31. Lucid dream recall. The University in Frankfurt led a team that analyzed brain waves during REM sleep, waking and lucid dreaming. It found that lucid dreaming had elements of REM and of waking — they also concluded that when you close your eyes at night you will experience a flash of your last dream. Researchers have found if you are able to remember and reconstruct a (positive) lucid dream it will help you to fall asleep easy. In order to remember your dreams better keep a dream journal next to your bed.

    32. Meditation. Meditation is a proven technique to encourage and promote relaxation. The more relaxed you are as you get ready for bed the better your chances of falling into a deep, restful sleep cycle. Practice your meditation nightly you will find that the process becomes easier and easier. You may find that meditating 10 to 15 minutes before bed will help to fall asleep naturally.

    33. No hot or spicy foods. Eating hot or spicy foods close to bedtime might cause indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux. Acid reflux (GERD) can cause a condition known as Barrett's Esophagus which is a precursor to esophageal cancer. Large meals should also be consumed 2-3 hours before retiring.

    34. Limit liquids. Limit liquids before retiring or you will have to get up during the night to go to the bathroom.

    35. Wear socks. Some people have poor circulation and their feet are colder than the rest of their body causing them to wake up during the night. Wearing socks to bed promotes circulation and keeps your feet warmer. But don't wear socks that are too tight or they might actually cut off your circulation.

    36. Journaling. Do you write in a journal or write articles on your blog? Do you get tired of writing? This is something you can do if you can't fall asleep (40) also writing in a journal you can get all that is bothering you out of your head and on paper. Sometimes this is great for problem solving. Another thing you could keep track of is your sleeping habits, what you have tried to get to sleep easy, times you wake up during the night...etc. If you find you have to go to the doctor bring your journal it will help him with his diagnosis.

    [caption id="attachment_233" align="alignright" width="479" caption="Sleep study for easy sleeping"]sleepstudy[/caption]

    37. Supplements. There are supplements on the market that will help you get drowsy. Supplements don't work as fast as sleeping pills but they don't have the side effects or dependency issues. Some supplements available are; melatonin, Valerian, passion flower extract, hops and catnip. You can buy them separately or herbal blend in a pill form, tea or tincture.

    38. Check your medications. Some medication such as aspirin contain stimulants, check your labels and ask your doctor for alternative medications if necessary.

    39. Lose weight. Are you a chronic snorer? You may suffer from sleep apnea because you have extra weight on your neck that is causing a restrictive air passage making you snore. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder causing you to stop breathing for a few seconds continuously during the night. Just losing 10% of your body weight can help cure your sleep apnea. If you are obese, a chronic snorer or suffer from sleep apnea please talk to your doctor (1) as he/she may have alternative treatments or recommend a specialist.

    40. Get up! If you toss and turn for more than 20 minutes...get up! Do something in your nighttime routine (18) for 10-15 minutes then try to go back to sleep.

    41. Your alarm clock. If you are laying there checking the time every five minutes...turn your clock around. This constant looking at the clock will only make you more frustrated and will keep you awake longer now fretting over the time of sleep lost.

    42. Leave your work and your pets at the bedroom door. It's never good to bring your work into the bedroom because you probably will stay up longer than you should. Also, you will continue to think about the work once you close your eyes keeping you awake. Pets not only keep you awake by hoarding the bed during the night, they can cause allergies. If you must have pets in your room at least try to keep them off the bed.

    43. Jammies. It is a must to wear something that is comfortable and nonrestrictive to bed. Nothing wakes me up and makes me mad is when I turn over and my jammies don't...I have to sit up and get them situated before I can get back to sleep.

    44. Herbal sleep aides & gadgets. There are a lot of herbal sleep aides on the market. Lavender filled pillows (or hops), oils, candles, spritzer or a sleep mask. Dreamate uses accupressure techniques to gently massage the “sleeping golden triangle” on your left sleep gadget wrist. Used 30 minutes before bedtime, you can retune and reset your biological clock and train your body to relax and sleep. Nasal strips and dilators help open the nasal passages so the user can breathe more freely through the nose rather than the mouth. Sleep Shades. Sleep masks, eye masks, or eye shades, whatever you call them, can help you relax your eyes on a plane, in a car, on a bus, or while traveling by any method as a passenger. Sleeptracker PRO monitors your body while you sleep. It gently wakes you up when it determines your body is ready. You’re left feeling awake, refreshed, and well-rested. Sleepsonic’s Speaker Pillow can be used with any portable MP3 player. It delivers clear sound straight to you ears and won’t disturb your significant other. Zeo personal sleep coach actually uses a wireless headband to measure your brain activity, constructing an accurate graph of your sleep cycles and waking you up at a good point. I am sure there are tons more just check on the internet or at a specialty store near you.

    45. Go to bed when you are tired. If you are not tired you are just going to toss and turn until you are. This is when you get up or stay up until you feel ready for bed. Your sleep/wake cycle maybe out of sync because you took a nap (19) or your day was more stressful or too emotional and you need extra time to work things out and calm down enough to sleep. Learn to look for signs of fatigue. For instance, if your attention starts to wander, and your thoughts are getting slower, that’s a sign you need sleep.

    The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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