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8 tips for better sleep

Follow these tips to increase the amount of valuable sleep you are getting each night.

1. Sleep when sleepy

Lie down to go to sleep only when you are actually sleepy.

For some people, this means that you will go to bed a lot later than usual.

2. Bed basics

Do not use your bed for anything except sleeping.

Do not read, watch TV, use electronic devices, eat or worry in bed.

Sexual activity is the only exception to this rule.

On such occasions, follow the instructions afterwards when you intend to go to sleep.

If you believe that reading, listening to the radio, or some other in-bed activity helps you to fall asleep, feel free to break this rule and read or listen to the radio in bed – but do it for no longer than about 20 minutes.

3. Retrain your brain

If you do not fall asleep within about 30 minutes after turning out the light, get up, go to another room, and do something that is not too arousing – for example, read a magazine, watch TV, do some ironing.

Stay up as long as you need to, and then return to your bedroom to sleep.

The goal is to associate your bed with falling asleep quickly.

Do this as often as necessary until you fall asleep in about 30 minutes.

This technique can also be used if you wake up during the night and cannot go back to sleep.

4. Be consistent

Get up at about the same time every morning, seven days a week, regardless of how long you have slept.

This will help your body to develop a consistent sleep rhythm.

If you like to sleep later on weekends, make sure that you get up not more than 1 hour later on weekends than on weekdays.

5. No naps!

Do not nap during the day.

Even a 5 minute nap in front of TV can take the edge off your sleepiness, and can make it harder for you to sleep well that night.

6. Think before you sleep

Most of the thinking and worrying that we do in bed needs to be done – it just does not need to be done in bed.

Therefore, make sure that you devote some time during the day (for example, 5 to 60 minutes) for thinking and worrying.

This should end at least a couple of hours before you go to bed.

Then, when the thoughts come when you are in bed, say to yourself gently: ‘Stop, I thought about this today. I will think about it again tomorrow. Now is the time to sleep’.

This will not work every time, but even if it only works half the time, that is a lot better than not at all.

7. Relax

For people who wake during the night and then have trouble falling asleep again, and for people who are light sleepers, relaxation is often the single most important part of this insomnia control program.

The ideal is to do relaxation twice a day for 20 minutes (for example, once in the middle of the day, and once just before bed or in bed).

You may use a relaxation tape, do yoga, meditate, or just take quiet time – whatever you prefer.

With any method of relaxation training, you will need to practice relaxation daily for at least 4 weeks to obtain maximum benefit.

If you cannot fit in 20 minutes twice a day, doing relaxation for less time (for example, 5 minutes) or less frequently (for example, once a day) is definitely better for your sleep than not doing relaxation at all.

While doing relaxation during the day, make sure that you do not fall asleep (for example, you may need to do it sitting up in a chair).

However, at bedtime, feel free to fall asleep in bed during the relaxation.

8. Surfing the wave

Learn to surf the ‘sleep wave’ into sleep.

Feelings of sleepiness build up then pass like waves.

Learn to notice how sleepy you are feeling and go to bed when the wave of sleepiness is building to the peak.

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