How much sleep you get each night can make a huge difference in your productivity, alertness, and overall happiness. Despite the overwhelming benefits, millions of people fail to get enough sleep each night. Whether a person’s lack of sleep stems from stress, a sleep disorder, or lack of time, getting too little rest can effect nearly every aspect of your life.
In a survey conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 23 percent of those surveyed found a lack of sleep made concentrating more difficult, 18 percent said they had greater difficulty remembering things, while 13 percent said too little sleep effected their hobbies, and 11 percent said they experienced trouble driving or taking public transportation.
One of the biggest problems people who get too little sleep face is getting back to bed after waking up in the middle of the night. Staring at the clock for hours as you toss and turn throughout the night isn’t going to help, so what steps can you take to get relaxed and fall back asleep? Even though it might sound strange, your best course of action may be to get up.
Getting Up to Sleep
Getting out of bed once you’ve tried to going to sleep might seem like giving up on getting a good night’s rest, but occasionally our minds and bodies need a reset before we can get back to bed.
Before you decide the time has come to get up, try laying in bed for 10 minutes without looking at the clock. Worrying about how long you’ve been awake only helps to perpetuate insomnia, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Instead, keep your clock out of sight and guess how long you’ve been lying in bed. If you’re still awake after 10 minutes, it’s time to get up, as trying to force yourself back to sleep will only make sleeping more elusive.
You need to train yourself to think of the bedroom as place used only for sex and sleep. Finding yourself unable to sleep and deciding to watch TV or read in bed instead will only help reinforce the notion that your bedroom isn’t just used for sleep. So instead of flipping on the TV, you need to get up and move into a different room of the house where you can engage in a mildly entertaining activity, such as reading, listening to music, or meditating.
You want to make sure whatever activity you choose is something calming and soothing that will help push you back towards sleep. Listening to upbeat rock music, for example, might cause you to feel a little more jazzed and awake then say playing classical or ambient music instead.
Low-Key the Key to Sleep
Once out of bed, you need to resist the urge to get something done even though you feel wide awake. Making the most out of a bad situation does not help you fight insomnia; so don’t try to do something productive to compensate for not sleeping. Getting something productive done while awake only helps to reinforce the habit of waking early.
You also need to keep your computer, phone, and TV off, and leave your email inbox, Facebook account, and bills until the morning. Any device that lights up can trick your brain into thinking that it’s daytime and that you need to be awake.
Ideally you want to find an activity that doesn’t require you to think and that will help you relax. Try sitting on the couch in the dark, while listening to some relaxing music in the background. Focus on the steady rhythm of your breathing and work to keep any extraneous thoughts out of your head. Make sure to stay relaxed and not to worry about how long you’ve been wake or what time you need to get up in the morning. Once you begin to feel a little sleepy, make your way back to bed and lay down without looking at the clock.
While everyone has a bad night sleeping from time to time, it’s important to work on your sleep habits if you find sleeping regularly a problem. Better sleep habits can include getting to bed at a regular time, engaging in only relaxing activities during the last half hour before bedtime, and keeping your bedroom devoted to sleep. If you still experience trouble sleeping, consider taking to your doctor.
Timothy Lemke writes about better sleeping habits for Dr. Kurt S. Tingey, a dentist in Vancouver WA at Smiles Dental.
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