Longing for a Good Night’s Rest? Try These Tips

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Even if you are no longer waking up to feed a newborn or trying to lull a fussy toddler back to sleep after a bad dream, you still may be longing for a time when you will get a good night’s sleep.  You’re not alone—studies show that the majority of parents struggle with getting enough sleep at night.  Which, of course, often leads to less than productive days.

Here are some tips from Parents.com on how you can have better nights and more energized days:

Turn Off the Bright Lights
To wind down faster, lower the light level (nothing brighter than a 15-watt bulb) an hour or two before bedtime. If you have to get up in the middle of the night, use a dim night light that you can turn on or off.

Stop Checking Email
Getting immersed in regular daytime tasks such as checking email right before bedtime makes it hard for your body to switch gears.  Keep your computer and other home-office equipment out of the bedroom and avoid activities such as watching disturbing TV news, reading a thriller, or discussing big issues at bedtime.

Limit the Caffeine
That late afternoon coffee could be keeping you awake at night. Caffeine consumed any time after midday can do a number on your body so pay attention to your intake of coffee, sodas, and even chocolate (yikes!) after Noon.

Forgo the Nightcap
Although alcohol is initially sleep-inducing, it also stimulates your nervous system.  Alcohol fragments your sleep and may cause you to wake up startled from a dream or—because it is also a diuretic—make extra trips to the bathroom.  Try a week without beer and wine and see if that helps you sleep more soundly.

Avoid Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids
The list of medicines that interfere with sleep is long, but we often don’t think an OTC sleep aid would be part of the list.  While an occasional over-the-counter sleep aid probably won’t hurt, prolonged use could cause “rebound insomnia” when you stop.  In addition, many of OTC sleep aids contain antihistamine diphenhydramine, which could leave you groggy the next day.

Schedule Worry Time
It never fails, the minute your head hits the pillow every worry you’ve ever had starts running through your head.  Schedule time earlier in the evening to officially “worry”, making a list of concerns or jotting down things you need to do the next day.  Use the time closer to bedtime to quiet the mind with yoga or meditation.

Pay Attention to Hormones
Hormonal changes—whether because of pregnancy, PMS, or menopause—can make for strange dreams and elusive sleep.  Pay attention each month to see if there is any correlation between your sleep and your hormones, taking special care of yourself during those days to help ease the discomfort.

Stop Watching the Clock
When you wake up in the middle of the night don’t look at the clock.  Clock-watching takes you from sleep to awake without any transitional period, making it difficult for your mind to turn back off can rest.  Consider putting your clock in a drawer or under a towel.

Keep Exercising
The more fit you are the better you will sleep.  Although evening exercises may energize more than relax, late afternoon movement often improves your sleep.  If you do feel the need to get some late evening exercise in, consider doing something more meditative such as yoga.

You can read the entire Parents.com article here.

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