Friday, March 6, 2009

It's 2am--Have You Fallen Asleep Yet?

This post is brought to you in part by my dear friend Natalie Levy....

The economic crisis is having a toll on Americans in a very significant way. A recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that one-third of Americans are losing sleep over the state of the U.S. economy and other personal financial concerns. The number of people reporting sleep problems has increased 13% since 2001. In the past eight years, the number of Americans who sleep less than six hours a night jumped from 13% to 20% and each year there are up to 100, 000 traffic accidents involving drowsiness.

In so many circumstances, getting good sleep has to do with your habits – so making some simple changes can greatly impact the quality of your sleep

Here are some very simple, but powerful, sleep tips:

1. Have a consistent bed time- even on weekends if possible- when your sleep cycle has a regular rhythm you will sleep better.

2. Try to use your bedroom for sleeping only- don't do work or pay bills—your body needs to associate the room with sleep.

3. Don't drink caffeine or alcohol, or smoke 4-6 hrs before bed time as these will interfere with the quality of your sleep.

4. Don't exercise right before bedtime. Regular exercise is good, but it should be at least 4 hours before bedtime.

5. Don't take naps. You want to be tired at bedtime. If you just can't make it through the day without a nap, sleep less than one hour and before 3 pm.

6. Probably the most important strategy is to develop sleep routines. So many people have no wind down time—sleep routines are actions you take each night to give your body cues that it is time to slow down and sleep. So try listening to relaxing music, or read something soothing for 15 minutes, or try meditation or prayer.

7. Finally, if you can't fall asleep, don't stay in your bed for more than 20 minutes. After 20 minutes get up, go into a dimly lit room and start your sleep routine over.

You can have a very big impact on the quality of your sleep by using these tips. Remember though, if you are having a difficult time with sleep, it may be a symptom of a more serious medical condition. Try these tips and if you still are having difficulties, contact your physician.

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