You have touched on a problem that is shared by 60 percent of Americans. Even though there are many causes for us to lose sleep, our work is the number one reason we don't sleep the necessary amount of hours each night.
What we do at night affects everything we do during the day, such as our memory, safety, stamina and health. It also directly affects our mood. It appears that chronic sleep disruption can be a huge trigger for depression, as well.
Poor sleep habits, also called ‘sleep hygiene’, are the most common problems that cause lack of sleep. We want to say up late, yet we have to get up early. Thus, poor sleep hygiene is established and then it becomes very difficult to fall asleep unaided.
Below are suggestions that will help your body regulate to a schedule so the brain will know when it is time to sleep. It will take a dedicated schedule, but the payoff is definitely worth it. Here we go:
*Establish your sleep rhythm. Teach your mind and body to fall asleep by going to bed and waking up at the same time, every day, seven days a week. This will keep you in sync with your own circadian rhythm, a sort of internal 24-hour body clock which is affected by light and dark. Be sure to get natural light every afternoon. This will help you keep your circadian rhythm and help you fall asleep.
*Exercise regularly. This reduces anxiety and tension, but be sure to finish at least three hours before your bedtime.
*Do not nap! This will only make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
*Watch what you eat and drink. No caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. You mentioned drinking alcohol to help you sleep. This may help you fall asleep, but after a while, as it leaves your system, it will wake your body. Avoid the alcohol.
*Follow your routine. Do the same thing every night before you go to bed. This signals your brain and body that it is time to wind down.
*Use the bed for sleep and sex. Period.
*Give yourself 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you are still awake after 20 minutes, get up and do something that may make you drowsy. Then go back and try again.
*Do not worry. Do not panic if you cannot fall asleep, because it will only make it harder to sleep. Find a good, boring book to make you drowsy. If you brag about your boring book, do not lend it out to help friends or family members sleep. Let them get their own boring book. Keep yours for when you need it.
*Seek out a professional. The items above should help your brain regulate itself to a healthy sleep pattern. However, in the rare instance where this doesn't work, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor or a sleep specialist.
This is an important letter, Sue, because so many people have poor sleeping habits and don't get the proper amount of sleep. It is very, very important for your mental and physical health whether you're young, middle-aged or elderly. I wish you sweet dreams.