Sleep is essential to maintaining both physical and mental health. If you're like most people, you have at some time had difficulty either falling asleep, staying asleep or getting quality sleep. What are some causes of sleep difficulties?
Stress: stress can be caused by fear or worry.
Mental or emotional conditions: such as depression or loneliness.
Stimulants: tobacco, caffeine and some drugs.
Some health problems: such as fibromyalgia pain and apnea
Lack of exercise: (I know I sleep better the more exercise I get)
Bad sleep habits: not having a regular bedtime or watching TV in bed.
So what can you do to get those 40 winks?
If you have pain or an emotional problem you should first see a doctor. My clients with fibromyalgia find that combined with a prescribed sleep medication, exercising and keeping the temperature warm at night improves their chance of a good night's sleep. Talking to someone about an emotion problem helps as well.
Here are some changes you can make to improve your sleep:
- Get regular exercise, preferably at least 3 hours before going to sleep.
- No alchohol or caffeine for a few hours before bedtime
- Have a regular bedtime and get up at the same time every day.
- Try breathing exercises. By breathing deeply and concentrating on our breaths, the body relaxes. Breathing is an important component of martial arts and yoga for this reason. Breathing exercises calm the central nervous system and quiet the mind.
- Do a lttle yoga just before bed. Here's an exercise that never fails:
Lie on your back in the corpse pose (hands at your sides, palms up, feet apart). Close your eyes and be aware of every part of your body starting at your scalp and moving towards your toes. Soften your forehead, eyes, face, jaws, neck and shoulders. Continue moving down your body by giving attention to every area...the arms, legs, trunk and toes. Next, stay in the corpse pose a few minutes longer and focus on your breathing. This exercise tells your mind and body that it is time to stop thinking and working.
Do you have any secrets for getting a good night's sleep?
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