Sleep Disorders, Sleep Remedies & Insomnia Relief


A Better Night's Sleep: Eliminate Your Vices

The term vice is popularly applied to various activities considered immoral by some; a list of these might include the use of alcohol and other recreational drugs, gambling, recklessness, cheating, lying and selfishness. It is also used in reference to police vice units who prosecute crimes associated with these activities. Often, a vice particularly designates a failure to comply with the sexual mores of the time and place: sexual promiscuity.

Behaviors or attitudes going against the established virtues of the culture may also be called vices: for instance, effeminacy is considered a vice in a culture espousing manliness as an essential element of the character of males.

If you suspect you need more ZZZ's, here are ten tips to help you get them:

Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule including weekends. Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by a "circadian clock" in our brain and the body's need to balance both sleep time and wake time. A regular waking time in the morning strengthens the circadian function and can help with sleep onset at night. That is also why it is important to keep a regular bedtime and wake-time, even on the weekends when there is the temptation to sleep in.

Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or hot tub and then reading a book or listening to soothing music. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep. Avoid arousing activities before bedtime like working, paying bills, engaging in competitive games or family problem-solving. Some studies suggest that soaking in hot water (such as a hot tub or bath) before retiring to bed can ease the transition into deeper sleep, but it should be done early enough that you are no longer sweating or over-heated. If you are unable to avoid tension and stress, it may be helpful to learn relaxation therapy from a trained professional. Finally, avoid exposure to bright light before bedtime because it signals the neurons that help control the sleep-wake cycle that it is time to awaken, not to sleep.

Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep - cool, quiet, dark, comfortable and free of interruptions. Also make your bedroom reflective of the value you place on sleep. Check your room for noise or other distractions, including a bed partner's sleep disruptions such as snoring, light, and a dry or hot environment. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, "white noise," humidifiers, fans and other devices.

Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy - about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up during the night.

Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine. For example, if looking at a bedroom clock makes you anxious about how much time you have before you must get up; move the clock where you wonít see it.Stay away from the activities that cause you anxiety.

Have your evening meal at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime. Eating or drinking too much may make you less comfortable when settling down for bed. Donít have a big meal right before bed. Spicy foods may cause heartburn, which makes it harder to fall asleep at night and may cause stomach upset. Try to restrict fluids close to bedtime to prevent nighttime awakenings to go to the bathroom, though herbal teas and milk may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.

In general, exercising regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder sleep. A rigorous workout routine right before bed will make it hard to fall asleep. In addition to making us more alert, our body temperature rises during exercise, and takes as much as 6 hours to begin to drop. A cooler body temperature is associated with sleep onset. Do your workout routine with three hours to spare before bedtime. Late afternoon exercise is the perfect way to help you fall asleep at night.

Avoid caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, and soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime. It can keep you awake. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can produce an alerting effect. Caffeine products, such as coffee, tea, colas and chocolate, remain in the body on average from 3 to 5 hours, but they can affect some people up to 12 hours later. Even if you do not think caffeine affects you, it may be disrupting and changing the quality of your sleep. Avoiding caffeine within 6-8 hours of going to bed can help improve sleep quality. To determine how much caffeine you ingest daily, check out a Caffeine Calculator.

Stay away from tobacco products (e.g. cigarettes). Used close to bedtime, it can lead to poor sleep. Nicotine, which is a stimulant, will make it harder to go to sleep if you smoke before bed. When smokers go to sleep, the withdrawal symptoms may keep them awake as well. Nicotine can cause difficulty falling asleep, problems waking in the morning, and may also cause nightmares. Difficulty sleeping is just one more reason to quit smoking. And never smoke in bed or when sleepy!

Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. Though many people believe alcohol calms them, it actually disrupts sleep, causing nighttime awakenings. After a night of getting tanked up, your sleep will be not as peaceful as you might think.

If you have trouble falling asleep, maintaining sleep, awaken earlier than you wish, feel unrefreshed after sleep or suffer from excessive sleepiness during the day or when you wish to be alert, you should also consult your physician. Be sure to tell him/her if you have already tried these tips and for how long.

Try natural sleep aids. There's science behind that warm glass of milk: the tryptophan in it increases serotonin, a natural sleep enhancer. Some doctors suggest herbal treatments such as passion flower, valerian and kava kava, but only to get your sleeping patterns back on track. Then, quit taking them.

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