Sound To Sleep
If you are troubled by sleeplessness, take a look at nature's sleep aids.
Stop worrying about getting to sleep. Just let it happen. If it doesn't tonight, so what? It will tomorrow night. Or the next. Lack of sleep is not going to kill you, but worrying about it long enough just might.
Begin each day with 20 minutes in the sun or in very bright light. Your circadian rhythms are linked to sunlight. The sun sets our natural clocks properly, and acts as a natural energizer too.
Get more exercise regularly during the day. This helps burn up stress-caused adrenaline buildup in the brain, which can result in that tense, nervous feeling where you are `up' and can't seem to get `down'. Experiment with exercising at different times of the day to see which time works best for you in terms of relaxing you and making you ready for sleep at night. But don't take strenuous exercise before going to bed, as it can set the heart pounding and stimulate the whole body too much.
Don't take on any new activities late in the day and don't take a nap in the evening or late afternoon.
Don't eat dinner late in the evening - the earlier the better. Make it the smallest meal of the day and avoid snacks after dinner since they can interfere with sleep. Everybody sleeps better on an empty stomach, despite what the hot drink manufacturers would have you believe.
Don't drink coffee, alcohol or strong stimulants at dinner. This isn't just an old wives' tale. One researcher looking into the effects of caffeine recently showed that total sleep time is decreased by two hours and the mean total of intervening wakefulness more than doubles when patients are given three milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of a couple of cups of coffee. Alcohol may put you to sleep, but it tends not to keep you there, awakening you instead in the early hours of the morning.
Drink milk. It is an old-fashioned remedy, maybe, but it is scientifically sound that drinking a glass of milk before bed helps you to sleep. Milk contains tryptophan, a precursor to one of the calming brain chemicals called serotonin, which is important for relaxation and for inducing sleep. High in calcium, it is often referred to as the slumber mineral because it induces muscle relaxation.
Drink plenty of water during the day. Sleep is induced by the brain, and brain cells need adequate hydration both to stay awake during the daylight hours and to trigger the dreamy relaxation that brings on sleep. Hardly anyone drinks as much water as they profitably could. I regularly consume at least 2 liters of mineral water a day in addition to whatever other drinks I may have.
Don't go to bed when you are not sleepy. Instead, pursue some pleasant activity, preferably passive. Television is not the best choice, for rays emitted from the set disturb your nervous system when you least need it.
Get into a rut, going to bed as far as possible at the same time every night and developing a routine or simple ritual about it. When it comes to getting ready for sleep each night the body loves routines; they foster relaxation and let the body know what to expect. Make bedtime and rising time as regular as possible and go through the same routine each evening of putting the cat out, opening the window, reading a book, etc.
Soak in a lukewarm (not hot) bath for 30 minutes, topping up with hot water to maintain the temperature at just blood heat. (A hot bath before bed is a mistake. It is far too stimulating to the heart, and gets your motor running.) Blot your skin dry without friction and go straight to bed moving slowly. This can be a great thing to do in the middle of the night if you awaken too - use a candle instead of turning on the light and let yourself relax as you probably never can during the day when a telephone could ring or someone might demand something of you.
Insist that you sleep in a room by yourself if you want to be alone. Nights, sometimes weeks, sleeping alone can be enormously restful and fruitful.
Use an ionizer. A little contraption beside your bed that sends negative ions into the air and is a godsend to anyone who has the kind of nervous system that tends to go `up' and doesn't want to come `down'. Although not cheap, it is an excellent investment, for you can use it at a desk when you have a lot of work to do. Or, if you buy one of the portable varieties, you can also take it in the car on long trips to keep from going to sleep (it magically works both ways) . Negative ions also stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain.
Mellow music. Music too can help alter consciousness and have you sinking blissfully into the depths of slumber. An MP3 player kept by the side of your bed can provide one of the most pleasant ways of all of putting a racing mind to rest and easing yourself into sleep.
Some of the essential plant oils have a wonderful calming effect on the mind and body. You can take a warm bath with them or place a few drops on your pillow to inhale through the night. For the bath use four drops of lavender oil, two drops of chamomile and two drops of neroli (orange blossom). Or try a drop or two of each on your pillow.
Count your blessings. It's an old fashioned idea, but it is a true key to deep relaxation and blissful sleep. Each night as you turn out the light think of six things during the day which you have to be thankful for, regardless of your physical or emotional state or how difficult your life may be at the time. This gradually turns the mind to dwell on pleasurable themes even when you are awake. It can even improve the quality of your dreams.
Make use of relaxation techniques and helpers - you will find they enhance many other areas of your life too.