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How to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep deprivation is a health condition that affects many people. It happens when you lose the ability to function properly in daily activities due to the lack of the necessary amount of sleep. Because sleep problems can negatively affect your physical and emotional condition, you should strive to have a good nightís sleep every day.

Everyone has unique sleep requirement, most need 7 or 8 hours of sleep, but some can sleep 6 hours a day. It is usually easy to tell if youíre not getting enough sleep. If youíre sleepy and drowsy at work or find yourself doze off occasionally, then you may have sleep deprivation.

Dark circles under your eyes, dizziness, aching muscles, fatigue, exhaustion, irritability, confusion, fainting, weight problems and hallucinations are common signs of sleep deprivation. If you still have these symptoms after one week, despite your best efforts to correct them, you need to see your doctor. The doctor will initially try to change your lifestyle by modifying your diet, exercise routine and medications for existing health issues. If thereís no improvement, he will prescribe sleeping pills for you.

Why We Have Sleep Problems

Electronic devices are among the biggest causes of insomnia. Before the invention of electricity, people went to sleep a few hours after dusk and got up very early each morning. Unfortunately, things have changed significantly and we are living in an era where things are moving 24 hours a day and there is an ever increasing demand to get everything done quickly. When we get tired, we take a few pills and drink thick coffee to keep us awake for a few hours more.

We spend too many hours sitting in front of the computer and often keep on doing it when we should have wound down by then. Hundreds of TV channels broadcast their programs 24 hours a day and you may keep telling yourself to stay awake for just 30 minutes longer to watch a favorite sitcom. On the other hand, financial pressures cause both parents to work at the office and working moms need to juggle between career, bringing up the kids and housework. It is getting harder to stay with the rhythms of natural sleeping.

Creating a Good Sleep Environment

You should create a comfortable and safe sanctuary where you can unwind, relax and get a good nightís sleep. These are a few ways to make your bedroom a relaxing place:

1. Choose a comfortable mattress. Before purchasing one, you and the spouse should lie on it to see whether it is good enough for both of you. There is one general rule to know whether a mattress is comfortable for an individual: slide both hands to the small of your back while youíre lying on your back; if you can do it without too much trouble, then the bed is for you.

2. Use pillow with proper thickness. Your neck posture when sleeping should be equal to when youíre standing up. Generally, medium pillow is good for you if you sleep on your back. Use firmer pillow if you sleep on your side and use a softer one if you often sleep on your tummy, as it will strain your neck less. Feather pillows can better support the neck shape; unfortunately, they arenít a good choice if youíve allergic reactions to small particles.

3. Turn the mattress every couple of month to keep it in good shape. To prevent serious dust mites infestation, you should vacuum it regularly.

4. Choose comfortable bedding, for most people, cotton should be a good choice, as it allows your skin to breathe.

5. Stay away from electric blankets. If youíre cold, use hot water bottle instead. Electric blankets emit electromagnetic radiation that can negatively affect your health in the long run.

6. Keep your bedroom clean and free from clutter.

7. You bedroom should be far from street lights and busy roads. You should invest on double glazing and blackout curtains, if this isnít possible.

8. Donít put computer and TV in your bedroom.

9. Your bedroom should face east to capture more healthy morning sunlight. It would also help you to get yourself tuned with the natural waking rhythm.

10. Set a comfortable room temperature and leave a window open slightly to allow fresh air to circulate.

11. Keep pets out of your room.

12. If reading can help you to sleep, use bedside lamps instead of an overhead light.

13. Choose the right bedroom color:

Yellow: Use oranges and pale yellows, as bright yellow can stimulate your mind.

Purple: Use mauve and lilac, because purple can be somewhat harsh.

Red: Never use red for your bedroom. This color is very stimulating and wonít promote a restful sleep.

Green: Dark green is oppressive for some people. It would be better to use light green because it can make your room feels restful.

Blue: Blue isnít conducive to sleep and shouldnít be used in a bedroom, you should use iceberg and Columbia blue instead.

Pink: Brink pink can be hard on the eyes, you should use amaranth pink or carnation pink.

Beige: Beige is restful and calming. It should be a good choice for your bedroom.

In general, use creams, pastels and softer colors, avoid bright colors whenever possible.

What to Do Before Sleeping

1. Have a light dinner, if you feel peckish, get a piece of toast or a few biscuits, because hunger can also keep you awake.

2. An hour before bedtime takes a relaxing, warm bath, with a few drops of essential oil, such as chamomile or lavender.

3. Avoid intense studying and strenuous exercise before bedtime.

4. Use a predictable sleeping time.

5. Ask your partner to give you a light massage.

6. Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, sodas.

7. Avoid alcohol; although it can help you to sleep quickly, it is likely that youíll wake up a couple of hours later.

8. Nicotine is a stimulant, donít smoke at night.

9. Allocate a winding down period before sleeping.

10. Choose a comfortable, loose night clothes.

11. Donít read anything stimulating before bedtime, like thrillers or horrors. You can also buy CDs with music designed specifically to promote a good nightís sleep.

12. If there are some unfinished tasks, such as arranging weekly budget or paying bills, you should make a list and some description notes, so you wonít forget the next morning.

13. Drink milky beverages and chamomile tea before bedtime.

14. After dusk, wisely choose your conversation topics. Save the arguments for the next morning.

15. Allocate 5 to 10 minutes to write the daily journal, it can help you to unburden your mind.

16. Donít take a nap during the day.

Health issues that can induce sleep deprivation include, snoring, restless leg syndrome, cramps, prolonged cough, heart problems, hyperactive thyroid, pain, depression and anxiety. If the problem persists, you should see your doctor immediately. A counselor or a close friend could help you greatly with your anxiety and other emotional problems. If youíre naturally a late sleeper, you should force yourself to wake up early, which can slowly shift your sleeping time.





Theodoros Manfredi

Article reviewed by Theodoros Manfredi, PhD. A licensed physician who has worked with children and families for over seven years.


Copyrighted material; do not reprint without permission.

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