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Ways to Get that Needed Deep Sleep Without Taking Pills


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Ways to Get that Needed Deep Sleep Without Taking Pills

sleepharvard.jpg

Q: I've been having problems falling asleep. Are there things I can try other than taking sleeping pills?

A: Many things can interfere with sleep, ranging from anxiety to an unusual work schedule. But people who have difficulty sleeping often discover that their daily routine holds the key to nighttime woes. Below are some common enemies of sleep, and some tips for dealing with them.

- Cut down on caffeine. Caffeine-drinkers may find it difficult to fall asleep. Once they drift off, their sleep is shorter and lighter. For some people, a single cup of coffee in the morning means a sleepless night. People who suffer from insomnia should avoid caffeine as much as possible, since its effects can last for many hours. Those who can't or don't want to give up caffeine should avoid it after 2pm, or noon if they are especially caffeine-sensitive.

- Stop smoking or chewing tobacco. Nicotine is a potent drug that speeds your heart rate, raises blood pressure, and stimulates brain activity. In people addicted to nicotine, a few hours without it is enough to induce withdrawal symptoms. Cravings can even wake a smoker at night. People who kick the habit fall asleep more quickly and wake less often during the night. They may be more tired during the day at first, but many former users say they sleep better. Quitting also offers many other health benefits, including a lower risk for cancer, heart disease and stroke. But those who continue to use tobacco should avoid smoking or chewing it for at least one to two hours before bedtime.

- Use alcohol cautiously. Alcohol affects sleep in two different ways. Because it makes you sleepy for an hour or two, a nightcap can help some people doze off. But after that, alcohol can cause frequent awakenings as it suppresses deep sleep, reducing the quality of your sleep. Experts blame alcohol for 10 percent of chronic insomnia cases.

Some people fail to get even the short-term benefit from a nightcap because alcohol raises a hormone in the body that makes falling asleep difficult. Because alcohol relaxes throat muscles and interferes with brain control mechanisms, it can worsen snoring and other nocturnal breathing problems, which can sometimes be dangerous.

- Avoid a sedentary life. Aerobic exercise like walking, running or swimming promotes restfulness by helping you to fall asleep more easily and to sleep more soundly. One study found that physically fit older men fell asleep in less than half the time it took for sedentary men, and they woke up less often during the night. Timing is important: Exercising five or six hours before bedtime will encourage drowsiness when it's time to go to sleep. But strenuous activity within two hours before bedtime can keep you awake. If you can't exercise several hours before bedtime, exercising earlier in the day can also help you sleep better.

- Improve your sleep surroundings. An ideal sleep environment is quiet, dark and relatively cool, with a comfortable bed and a minimal amount of clutter from daytime responsibilities. Reminders or discussions of stressful issues should be banished to another room. Removing the television, telephone and office equipment from the bedroom is a good way to reinforce that this room is meant for sleeping.

- Keep a regular schedule. People with the most regular sleep habits report the fewest problems with insomnia and the least feelings of depression. Experts advise going to sleep at the same time on most nights, and getting up at about the same time every day, even after a late-night party or fitful sleep. Napping during the day can also make it harder to get to sleep at night.

- Keep a sleep diary. Keeping a sleep diary may help you uncover some clues about what's disturbing your sleep. If possible, you should do this for a month, but even a week's worth of entries can be beneficial.

- Use strategic naps. If your goal is to sleep longer at night, napping is a bad idea. Because your daily sleep requirement remains constant, naps take away from evening sleep.

But if your goal is to improve your alertness during the day, a scheduled nap may be just the thing. If you're anxious about getting enough sleep, then a scheduled nap may help you feel better at night by helping you feel less anxious. If possible, nap shortly after lunch and no longer than an hour. Even a 15- to 20-minute nap can make you feel more alert.

You may also find it helpful to make sure your bedroom is quiet (see graphic). If you try all of these suggestions and still have sleep problems, talk to your health-care provider.

SOURCE:-

By The Faculty of Harvard Medical School

The Harvard Medical School Adviser

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

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  • 3 months later...
  • 9 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks. Sometimes sleep is so hard for me.

Ways to Get that Needed Deep Sleep Without Taking Pills

sleepharvard.jpg

Q: I've been having problems falling asleep. Are there things I can try other than taking sleeping pills?

A: Many things can interfere with sleep, ranging from anxiety to an unusual work schedule. But people who have difficulty sleeping often discover that their daily routine holds the key to nighttime woes. Below are some common enemies of sleep, and some tips for dealing with them.

- Cut down on caffeine. Caffeine-drinkers may find it difficult to fall asleep. Once they drift off, their sleep is shorter and lighter. For some people, a single cup of coffee in the morning means a sleepless night. People who suffer from insomnia should avoid caffeine as much as possible, since its effects can last for many hours. Those who can't or don't want to give up caffeine should avoid it after 2pm, or noon if they are especially caffeine-sensitive.

- Stop smoking or chewing tobacco. Nicotine is a potent drug that speeds your heart rate, raises blood pressure, and stimulates brain activity. In people addicted to nicotine, a few hours without it is enough to induce withdrawal symptoms. Cravings can even wake a smoker at night. People who kick the habit fall asleep more quickly and wake less often during the night. They may be more tired during the day at first, but many former users say they sleep better. Quitting also offers many other health benefits, including a lower risk for cancer, heart disease and stroke. But those who continue to use tobacco should avoid smoking or chewing it for at least one to two hours before bedtime.

- Use alcohol cautiously. Alcohol affects sleep in two different ways. Because it makes you sleepy for an hour or two, a nightcap can help some people doze off. But after that, alcohol can cause frequent awakenings as it suppresses deep sleep, reducing the quality of your sleep. Experts blame alcohol for 10 percent of chronic insomnia cases.

Some people fail to get even the short-term benefit from a nightcap because alcohol raises a hormone in the body that makes falling asleep difficult. Because alcohol relaxes throat muscles and interferes with brain control mechanisms, it can worsen snoring and other nocturnal breathing problems, which can sometimes be dangerous.

- Avoid a sedentary life. Aerobic exercise like walking, running or swimming promotes restfulness by helping you to fall asleep more easily and to sleep more soundly. One study found that physically fit older men fell asleep in less than half the time it took for sedentary men, and they woke up less often during the night. Timing is important: Exercising five or six hours before bedtime will encourage drowsiness when it's time to go to sleep. But strenuous activity within two hours before bedtime can keep you awake. If you can't exercise several hours before bedtime, exercising earlier in the day can also help you sleep better.

- Improve your sleep surroundings. An ideal sleep environment is quiet, dark and relatively cool, with a comfortable bed and a minimal amount of clutter from daytime responsibilities. Reminders or discussions of stressful issues should be banished to another room. Removing the television, telephone and office equipment from the bedroom is a good way to reinforce that this room is meant for sleeping.

- Keep a regular schedule. People with the most regular sleep habits report the fewest problems with insomnia and the least feelings of depression. Experts advise going to sleep at the same time on most nights, and getting up at about the same time every day, even after a late-night party or fitful sleep. Napping during the day can also make it harder to get to sleep at night.

- Keep a sleep diary. Keeping a sleep diary may help you uncover some clues about what's disturbing your sleep. If possible, you should do this for a month, but even a week's worth of entries can be beneficial.

- Use strategic naps. If your goal is to sleep longer at night, napping is a bad idea. Because your daily sleep requirement remains constant, naps take away from evening sleep.

But if your goal is to improve your alertness during the day, a scheduled nap may be just the thing. If you're anxious about getting enough sleep, then a scheduled nap may help you feel better at night by helping you feel less anxious. If possible, nap shortly after lunch and no longer than an hour. Even a 15- to 20-minute nap can make you feel more alert.

You may also find it helpful to make sure your bedroom is quiet (see graphic). If you try all of these suggestions and still have sleep problems, talk to your health-care provider.

SOURCE:-

By The Faculty of Harvard Medical School

The Harvard Medical School Adviser

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

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  • 2 months later...

Thank you, sleep & night times are the hardest. :hearts: Oh and someone just gave me a yoga meditation tape to try.......I was also thinking about a machine that would play soothing sounds. Anyone tried any of this?

Thanks,

Tina

Edited by angeldust
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  • 3 weeks later...
Thank you, sleep & night times are the hardest. :hearts: Oh and someone just gave me a yoga meditation tape to try.......I was also thinking about a machine that would play soothing sounds. Anyone tried any of this?

Thanks,

Tina

What disturbs my sleep at various times of the night are racing and ruminating thoughts. It helps sometimes to put ear phones and listen to a relaxation tape. My own (stupid) thoughts are often then "drowned" out - a good thing. Ray_P

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Insomnia is probably the worst problem for me. It's been going on for a couple of years now. I absolutely hate seeing the moon rise and then the sun rise with no sleep. The nights are terrifiying to me. I get panic attacks most often at night- like last night was one of the most horrible. Sometimes I cry all night long without knowing why. I take Seroquel for sleep- which works wonders, as long as I take enough. But I hate having to use meds to sleep, I wish I could do without.

I've tried everything suggested, but I think this is something emotionally within me that I need to work out before my body will stop being afraid of the nights.

Andrea

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  • 3 months later...

I spent years with trouble sleeping then I tried something that the doc prescribed for my autistic nephew.

MELATONIN It can be bought over the counter, and from what I understand it is the chemical that our brains produce that make us sleepy!!

So after all those sleeping pills, I now have something that I don't think will harm me!! I take 6 mg about a half hour before bed, and have not had any trouble since, unless something REALLY stressful is going on.

anyone ever tried it or know about it??

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Good tips! Some others I've picked up from a sleep expert:

- If you are having trouble getting to sleep, 1/2 hour before bed get a pad and free write - just write anything that comes to mind until you are finished. For some reason your brain thinks it's dealt with and you thoughts won't go round in circles once you go to bed.

- Turn your alarm clock around so you can't see it. How often do you lie in bed awake and look at the clock and think "god i've been lying awake for xxxx hours"...? causing you to stress about the lack of sleep you are getting.

- If you don't get to sleep in 1/2 hour. or you wake up and can't get back to sleep for the same time, get out of be for at least 15minutes. Obviously you can't use your clock because you've turned it around, so just estimate.

- Use your bed for two things only - sleep and sex. Do not read in bed, do not do anything else in bed. Condition yourself that bed=sleep (unless you're getting lucky).

- If you have live in a noisy environment try ear plugs or some white noise - like tv static or a fan.

- Going to bed earlier is often counter productive. If your not getting to sleep regularly then it might be worth trying to go to sleep later. Some experts use a method where you work out how many hours you are getting per night, then go to bed that many hours before waking time (eg 4 hrs per night, if you wake at 6am then go to bed a 2am).. Then gradually work your way back half hour at a time. A drastic approach but the concept is important - earlier nights are usually counterproductive.

- Patterns are important (as per the original post). Don't sleep all day on the weekends - sleep in 1 hour extra maximum, otherwise you'll disrupt your sleeping patterns.

- Don't surf the internet all evening. Studies have shown that people who spend time late evening surfing the net have a less restful sleep.

- Sleep diary (from the original post): note time went to bed, time fell asleep, time woke, how many times woke during night, quality of sleep, alcohol (number, and last time), and any other factors.

- Medication: Use only when really needed. Use no more than twice per week otherwise you get dependant.

I hope this helps. I know what insomnia is like and it's not nice. The original post + these points made a huge difference for me.

Edited by Great_Chicken
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  • 2 months later...

I've read many sleep suggestions that say use your bed only for sleep (as well as that other thing that starts with an s, that's been so long, I think I might even have forgotten how to do....) but as someone for whom my bed = comfort and safety, this just doesn't work for me. I like to relax and read in a warm bed, snuggled with cats.

I'm surprised no-one has mentioned warm milk. It may seem silly, but it has tryptophan in it, which helps make you sleepy. Add a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and a tablespoon or so of finely crushed nuts (and a little molasses if you like some sweetness). Drink it warm. Something about that works for me... maybe it's that old comfort thing... when I wake yet again at 2am. Even if I don't always fall asleep, I doze with a pleasant warm feeling in my tummy, which makes me less tired in the morning.

Another thing that seems to work well for me at those 2am wakenings is to do what a hypnotist does.... relaxation and suggestion that you are getting more and more relaxed and just try to let your conscious mind drift off.... and suddenly you've slept another 2 hours.

YMMV, of course.

- an old and recurrent insomniac

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  • 2 months later...

Hi

I posted this on other parts of the forum but some of it may be useful here, if some of it sounds weird its cus I did a cut and paste....

It doesnt always work, but when it does I find it very helpful, Valerian Tea, the one I get is made by a company called Dr Stuarts and contains Valerian root, hops and passionflower.

Taking valerian alone can cause you to sweat the scent of Valerian, which is comparable to smelly feet, so not pleasant, therefore the tea is less, er, offensive

The smell is quite nasty, but once the tea has brewed the smell dissipates and its not a bad taste.

The main thing that I fund helpful about the Valerian is that the next morning it does feel like you have slept. One of my problems is that no matter how much I sleep I always feel groggy and sleeping tablets made me even worse. I read that Valerian is supposed to enhance deep sleep, as opposed to keeping you in REM sleep which is less beneficial. You do feel the difference in the quality of sleep, but sadly it is not a guarantee to get you off there.

As a qualified Aromatherapist I would recommend a drop of Frankincense, Lavender, Sweet Orange, Ylang Ylang, Roman Chamomile, or Vetivert on your pillow or on a tissue inside your pillowcase when you are going to sleep. Frankincense and Ylang Ylang are particularly beneficial as they promote deeper breathing which aids in relaxation.

However-ONE drop only should be used, as more then that constitutes an overdose, and could in fact keep you awake longer.

Some of the oils mentioned have also got anti depressant qualities, so double bonus there! And the one you like the smell of most is the one you should choose. Your subconscious will be drawn to the most appropriate oils for you.

Lastly, do not apply any of these oils directly to your skin. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and can cause adverse reactions when applied to skin without proper dilution. If you plan to use them on your skin, they should be at a dilution of 2% with a massage cream or non essential or carrier oil (eg, grapeseed, sweet almond etc.) a rule of thumb is 1 drop per 5ml of carrier oil. Try to mix 3 oils together, eg, Chamomile, Frankincense and Lavender, as oils work better together than alone. The same goes for baths, 6 drops is the amount needed for a bath, mix these 6 drops with 15-20ml of full fat milk before adding to the water to emulsify the oils and stop them from sinking or floating in the water.

With Sweet Orange, or any citrus oil for that matter, do not apply these oils to the skin before exposure to sunlight. These oils are considered "Phototoxic" which means that they can cause your skin to burn in the sun, and sunburn-aside from being unpleasant, is not good for skin health. Never use citrus oils on your face unless specifically advised to do so.

Also, minerals, such as calcium and magnesium are relaxing, and taken in the evening can help you to relax, theyre found in their most bioavailable state in dark green vegetables and seeds. But can be found as nutritional supplements, solgar's one is very good. (Unfortunately the calcium from milk is unavailable as you need several vitamins and other trace minerals in order to absorb it, but the tryptophan, as pointed out earlier, is also very beneficial)

I hope some of that may help. I know what its like not getting to sleep, so any help is always appreciated! Heres hoping that this contribution will be of benefit to some.

Giz

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  • 5 months later...
I find making the room too cold is the best solution for me. I have also heard that keeping your feet outside the covers can help aid you to sleep. I don't know whether this a placebo or true, if anyone tries it please post your experiences :hearts:

Actually it is extremely difficult to get to sleep if your feet are too cold as it is very uncomfortable, but I agree with keeping the room cool generally, but not too cold as the muscles won't relax. Finding a comfortable balance is the key. Bed clothese not too heavy light weight but warm, cooler in summer.It is the drop in body temperature in the evening which is one of the bodies normal triggers to kick start sleep. Thats why having a meal late keeps the body temerature to high , and delays sleep significantly. The wramth bath ettect before bed ( Warm not hot ), helps, not only ti relax the muscles but due to the drop in temp after getting out of the bath. If the balnets are too heavy or too hot or you have a giant how water bottle sleeping next to you especially if you arec having hot flushes or they snore, I suggest single beds or rooms, or a larger bed enabling you ti move right over and kick oiff the covers !

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  • 2 months later...

I use to have a lot of trouble sleeping, still have some trouble but not as bad. Two thing helped me.. First I get rid of the TV from my bedroom. I used to like to lay in bed and watch some TV before sleep but since I stopped, I seem to sleep a little better. The other thing did was buy a water circulating machine. It's a little machine you can put buy your bed and in will cycle water over these little rocks giving a nice soft water trickle sound.

For clearing the mind of racing thoughts I have found visualizing a blank piece of printer paper will quiet those thoughts.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks for the tips,

does anyone know if practicing yoga helps with sleep?

i've heard that its really beneficial to your health, but i wasnt sure if it also has medatative benefits?

Actually, I've tried pilates (kind of like yoga but more for flexibility/exercise purposes) and I think for me it helps because it relaxes all the muscles and releases most of my stress and my thoughts that run through my head as if they're in a marathon. It relaxes me so much that I just want to take a nap afterwards; I do recommend trying it.

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Like I said above; pilates help me with relaxing my muscles. But what I have a problem is the same thing as bobbibrowneyes...I'm never in a deep sleep when this occurs; it's a one way conversation filled with thoughts about the day and my mind is racing continuously. I feel like I never get peace and quiet in my brain. It just causes more stress, and I'm tired more during the day than I am laying in bed, starring at the ceiling at 2AM

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  • 3 months later...
I spent years with trouble sleeping then I tried something that the doc prescribed for my autistic nephew.

MELATONIN It can be bought over the counter, and from what I understand it is the chemical that our brains produce that make us sleepy!!

So after all those sleeping pills, I now have something that I don't think will harm me!! I take 6 mg about a half hour before bed, and have not had any trouble since, unless something REALLY stressful is going on.

anyone ever tried it or know about it??

Melatonin is naturally produced in your body. It is found over the counter by the herbs and vitamins at the drug store. It works great! I take 1mg just as I am about to lay my head on the pillow. Five minutes later, I am asleep. It acts fast, so if you take it too soon, you may find that the effect wears off leaving you at the state you were in before you took it. When I wake in the morning, I do not feel groggy or anything. It's awesome. :hearts:

Also, I saw suggestions in other posts about white noise machines. They work like a charm too. My bathroom is close to my bedroom, so I just turn on the vent and crack the door... Perfect!

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hey Yeah I find keeping my feet outside of the blankets with the window open helps me fall asleep more easily, dunno must be something got to do with body temp or something, I also found that the longer in the night i got without sleep the more anxious i get and then as a result the less likely it becomes that i will sleep so i use BCT thinking to try and reassure myself that i will get enough sleep and to keep myself calm

Edited by Sungodbrian
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