10 secrets to a good night's sleep

By: Lyndsie Bourgeon

Author: Canadian Living


10 secrets to a good night's sleep

By: Lyndsie Bourgeon
A good night’s sleep: does it sound like an impossibility? A National Sleep Foundation 2005 Sleep in America survey found that 40 per cent of adults slept less than seven hours a night – below the recommended seven to nine hours. Here are 10 ways to help you wake up feeling rested.

1. Do breathing exercises. Dr. Eva Libman, a sleep researcher at McGill University in Montreal, recommends breathing deeply while counting to 10; that is, breathe in for the first count, out for the second until you reach 10. Do the same counting backward. Repeat until you’re relaxed.

2. Write down your thoughts.
A swirling mind can keep anyone up into the wee hours. Keeping a journal will help you feel more in control of your life and help you to relax, says Libman.

3. Create a bedtime ritual. Rituals are personal and can include anything from reading to watching TV. Don’t limit what you can do before bed, cautions Libman; if working on your computer or watching TV relaxes you, make that your bedtime ritual.

4. Retire and wake up at the same time every day. This routine helps you fall asleep easier and faster. It also trains your body to be more alert in the morning – a win-win situation since this alertness will last throughout the day and result in a deeper sleep the next night.

5. Dust your bedroom. Bedding, drapes, and carpet are all home to dust that can aggravate allergies, which are sure to keep you awake. Avoid stacking magazines on bedside tables since they gather dust, but add houseplants and air purifiers, which help keep air clean.

6. Exercise early in the afternoon. Your body heats up during exercise, and the subsequent cooling process, which takes several hours, helps induce sleepiness at bedtime.

7. Keep the temperature and amount of light in your bedroom at your comfort level.
This helps you relax during bedtime.

8. Listen to talk radio. “In order to interrupt what’s going on inside your head, you should listen to talking, not music,” says Libman, adding that books on tape are another talk source.

9. Experiment with aromatherapy. Smell is the strongest of the senses and can be used as a sleep aid. Lavender is a popular herbal sleep aid.

10. Take naps.  But avoid them after 4 p.m., or they could reduce the quality of your sleep.

How much do you know about sleep? Read these myths and truths about sleep to find out.

This story was originally titled "10 Sleep-easy Strategies" in the October 2007 issue.

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10 secrets to a good night's sleep