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When you can't sleep

Insomnia is a common sleep disturbance that affects almost everyone at one time or another. Fortunately, it tends to be temporary. Recent advances in understanding insomnia have made it possible to help the majority of those who have difficulty with their sleep.

Sleep needs are different for different people. There are a few individuals who can wake up refreshed after 4-5 hours of sleep, but most people need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Here are some tips that can help you get enough sleep:

Set a Schedule - Going to bed early one night and late the next can confuse your biological clock! It is best to go to bed and get up at about the same time each day. Do not nap during the day or evening if you are not sleeping well at night.

Watch What and When You Eat - Eat lunch and dinner at the same time each day. Heavy meals eaten too close to bedtime can keep you awake. A glass of milk before bed could induce drowsiness. Alcohol should be avoided for several hours before bedtime.

Skip the Stimulants - Reduce or eliminate caffeine. This sleep-depriving stimulant is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, many soft drinks, and some over the counter medications for pain, allergies, and cold relief.

Do Not Bed Down With Worries - Set aside a time and place other than the bedroom at night to do your worrying. If it is difficult for you to release the tensions of the day, relaxation techniques like deep breathing or visualization might help. Turn on a relaxation video or music.

Get Some Exercise - Regular workouts make it easier for most people to fall asleep and stay asleep. Athletes tend to experience more or the deepest phase of sleep than do non-athletes, but exercise promotes sleep in everyone.

Greet the Sun - Your natural clock is reset each day, primarily by exposure to sunlight. Try to expose yourself to an hour of morning sunlight daily.

Do Not Just Lie There - If you do not fall asleep in 10-15 minutes, get up and go to another room or do something else; read, watch T.V., sip warm milk; until you feel sleepy. It may also be helpful to place your clock where you cannot see it from your bed. Any light source in the room should be eliminated. Light triggers your brain to awaken.

Still Can't Sleep? Get Help! If you try all the suggestions for getting a good night's rest and still lie awake night after night, it is time to consult a professional. Contact the health center at 970-351-2412