Getting a Good Night's Sleep

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.  ~Irish Proverb

 

We know that a good night’s sleep does wonders for both our mood and our energy level.  However, for some, that deep, restful sleep is elusive. Some have trouble falling asleep, watching the clock and anxiously calculating how much sleep they will get if they fall asleep now. Anxiety builds with each passing hour, making sleep even less likely.

Others fall asleep all right, but then find themselves waking a few hours later, finding it impossible to get back to sleep. They too worry about how little sleep they are getting, and how tired they will be the next day.

There are some things that can be done to increase the chances of a good sleep. These include eliminating caffeine (all day, not just in the evening), not doing mentally stimulating activities before bed, not watching television right up until bedtime, doing something relaxing such as a warm bath, yoga or meditation in the hour before going to bed.

It is also wise to park your worries at the door, before entering the bedroom at night. Lying in bed worrying or thinking about all you must do the next day is not conducive to drifting off.

The key element to a good night’s sleep is being relaxed. If you have ever fallen asleep on a beach you will recall that as a very deep sleep. The warm sun, fresh air and the sound of the waves induces a deep state of relaxation, so the body surrenders completely and sleep takes over.

Our busy lives make it less likely that we will be in a relaxed state when our head hits the pillow. We can train ourselves to associate sleep with relaxation. We can also learn to turn off our minds, take deep cleansing breaths, and to relax the individual muscles throughout the body. These are ways to ease ourselves into sleep.
If the stresses of life have caused us to forget how to sleep, it makes sense that we might have to teach ourselves how to do it. This is a much healthier approach than taking sleep medication, for medications may cause one to sleep, but without learning to do the relaxing things that are good not just for sleep, but for our overall wellbeing in general.

 

 

 

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist.  For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca

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