We’ve all been there, watching the clock with a cluttered mind that’s racing too fast to let you sleep. Get some quality zzzs with these tips from The End of Worry: Why We Worry and How to Stop by Will van der Hart and Rob Waller.
A good night’s sleep is one of the most elusive things there is. Yet it is one of the most refreshing things we can have. However, people who worry often start to worry even more if they do not quickly fall asleep.
Chemical methods of falling asleep, such as sleeping tablets, mean that we do not sleep properly: if we are taking them, we don’t have enough of something called beta-waves in our sleep, and so don’t wake up feeling refreshed. Some sleeping tablets also have a hangover effect in the morning. People may use them for work shifts or jet lag, and although this may be understandable, it is not a good habit to get into. Indeed, your general practitioner should tell you that sleeping tablets are only licensed in most cases for a two-week period. They might be okay for a short time, but ultimately we need to learn how to get a natural night’s sleep without them.
You need to start at the other end of the day by establishing a regular waking time, no matter what hour you go to sleep. Try to make this much the same on the weekends as during the week. Next, work at getting the right sleeping environment: make sure you are comfortable, not hungry, in a quiet place, somewhere not too light. Allow a winding-down time before bed, when you stop doing normal routines and do something you only do before going to bed, such as brushing your teeth or reading a magazine.
1. Keep the bedroom for sleeping. The bedroom is for two things only: sleep and sex! Activities such as working, watching TV, drinking, arguing, discussing the day, and so on will make it harder for you to get to sleep. Some people manage these things and then sleep, but if you don’t sleep well, keep the bedroom for sleeping and for sex, which can help you sleep!
2. If you wake up for more than ten minutes, or can’t go to sleep within ten minutes, get up and go to another room. Stay there till you feel sleepy, and then go back to bed. If you don’t sleep within ten minutes, repeat this process until you do. Do not catnap during the day, even for ten minutes.
3. Avoid caffeine after 4 p.m. A small bar of chocolate, for example, has 40 milligrams of caffeine. And below is a list of drinks and the amount of caffeine in a typical cup. As you will see, coffee is not the only culprit! Avoid using caffeine as a way of staying awake. (The same applies to nicotine—cigarettes, gum, and chewing tobacco—as this acts on the same receptors in the brain.)
Ground/filter coffee: 83 milligrams
Instant coffee: 59 milligrams
Decaf coffee: 3 milligrams (not zero!)
Tea: 27 milligrams
Cola drinks: 15 milligrams
African cocoa: 6 milligrams
South American cocoa: 42 milligrams
4. Also avoid alcohol. Although this can relax you a bit, for most people it is something of a stimulant and actually raises your heart rate. So, too, does exercise before going to bed—it takes time to cool down afterward. If you want a nighttime drink, try milk with a banana, but not such a big cup that you spend all night in the bathroom.
5. If you have babies in the house, this is the time to do whatever it takes to get them to sleep. Ask your pediatrician for advice.
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