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How to Catch More Zzzzz’s

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Elusive Sleep

Insomnia for many people has become a frustrating

fact of life.  30% of the population suffers from it,

and more than half of Americans lose significant

amounts of sleep due to stress and anxiety.

If insomnia visits you more than once every

few months, it’s time to take a look at the things

you can do to get more Zzzzz’s.

You Don’t Need a Sleeping Pill

Americans in particular like to solve their

problems by popping pills, but getting good sleep

is one area where you’re better off doing things

the old-fashioned way. The common side effects

list of prescription sleeping pills is long, you can be

allergic to them, develop a tolerance to them or

become addicted to taking them, and there

can be unusual side effects, like parasomnias

(doing things in your sleep you won’t remember

like eating, driving, or having sex).

The More Effective Alternative

The healthy alternative to taking a pill is to change

your environment to promote restful sleep and

see a therapist for cognitive therapy, which has been

found to be more effective than taking sleeping pills.

Your therapist will go over sleep education, sleep

restriction, relaxation training, and sleep hygiene.

Your sleep hygiene consists of the steps you take

to ensure you will be able to sleep when tired.

Good Sleep Hygiene

1.  Lower the light in your home one hour before

your intended bedtime.  This decrease in light

stimulation tells your brain to begin to shut down.

2.  Get a “white noise” machine or one that plays

ocean waves or a rainstorm.  The use of white

noise has been found especially helpful for those

who suffer from both insomnia and PTSD.

3.  Make sure your room is cool, but take a

warm bath or shower right before bedtime.  The

result of your body cooling down is also a signal

to the brain to begin the process of going to sleep.

4.  Eliminate exposure to sources of flickering light

one hour before bedtime…that means no TV, iPad,

cell phone, or computer.  No exposure to emails or

evening news helps with stress management, and you

can further enhance your letting go of stress at bedtime

by doing some Emotional Dialysis or use a Stress CD.

5.  Set a limit of 20 minutes to fall asleep after lights

are out.  If you’re tossing and turning after 20 minutes,

get up, get comfortable and stay warm, read or listen

to relaxing music or a stress management CD.  Being

deeply relaxed, even if you can’t sleep, will help you

immensely the next day!

6.   Don’t worry if you’re not sleeping.  Anxiety about

not being able to fall asleep will prolong your ability

to fall asleep.  Just use this time to relax and practice

good stress management and chill in your nice, warm

bathrobe with a glass of warm milk.  Treat yourself

nicely and you’ll eventually go to sleep.

Insomnia Is Normal Sometimes

Insomnia is normal and expected during times of

increased stress, change and transition, after a

traumatic event, or with some hormonal changes.

Keep up with your sleep hygiene, get help from a

cognitive therapist if you need it, and remember

that this time, too, shall pass.

 

 

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