Preparation For Sleep
The following is a list of suggestions on how to prepare for sleep, adapted from the July 1992 issue of the University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter. Readiness for sleep sets the stage for a good night's rest. In a recent study one group of insomniacs was treated with Halcion (a tranquilizer), while another learned to do some muscle relaxation combined with the steps listed below. At first the Halcion group got more sleep. However, the other group had caught up by the second week, and by the fifth week the behavior-training group was both falling asleep faster and sleeping better than the group using Halcion. Here is the program for sleep they were given:
- Go to bed and get up on a regular schedule.
- If your sleeplessness stems from worry or grief, try to correct what's bothering you, accepting that you may not be able to change your situation overnight, but by taking one step at a time positive changes can be achieved. A pastor, counselor, or trusted friend may provide support through the difficulty.
- Don't drink alcohol before bedtime—and don't smoke. Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns and make insomnia worse. Nicotine also contributes to wakefulness.
- Avoid eating a heavy meal in the evening. The evening meal should be the lightest of the day. Don't drink large amounts of liquid before retiring. In addition to the discomfort of having a heavy meal sitting in the stomach to be digested, the process of digestion requires energy; energy utilized in this way detracts from the energy needed to fuel the process of repair and restoration vital to optimal body function.
- Eliminate caffeinated beverages.
- Avoid daytime naps, even when you are tired.
- Spend an hour or more relaxing before you retire—read. listen to music, or take a warm bath. Try to fill your thoughts with something that will soothe and uplift mind, body, and spirit.
- If you are unable to fall asleep after twenty minutes, get up and do something rather than lying there trying to fall asleep. But don't bring work to bed. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back to sleep, try reading for a short time. Meditation, counting sheep (or flowers, or whatever appeals to you) or reconstructing a happy event or narrative may lull you back to sleep.
- Avoid reproaching yourself. Don't make your sleeplessness a cause for additional worry. Insomnia is not a crime. Sleeping exactly eight hours is sometimes not possible. Avoid setting up a chain of thinking in which frustration and anxiety keep you fretting over lost sleep.
- Avoid being a clock watcher. Turn the clock to the wall if you can't help looking at the time and worrying.
If these commonsense tips don't work the first night, they may start working over a week's time.
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