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Top Ten Sheep Countdown to Sleep:



1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule: Try not to vary the hours when you go to bed and when you wake up, even on weekends. This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.

2. Sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible. If there is even the tiniest bit of light in the room it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin. There also should be as little light in the bathroom as possible if you get up in the middle of the night. Please whatever you do, keep the light off when you go to the bathroom at night. As soon as you turn on that light you will for that night immediately cease all production of the important sleep aid melatonin.

3. Develop relaxing bedtime rituals: Listen to soft music, white noise or relaxation CDs. Some people find the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to be soothing for sleep. Drink a Cup of Valerian Tea, Chamomile Tea, or Decaffeinated Green Tea 2 Hours before bedtime Valerian (especially when combined with hops or lemon balm) and chamomile teas help to relax.

4. Limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine: Insomniacs may be hypersensitive to caffeine, and even small amounts may affect your sleep. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep, but it interferes with deep sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant and deters sleep.

5. Limit your intake of food right before bed: Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. This will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep. A large, heavy meal can interfere with your sleep. Avoid foods that you may be sensitive to. This is particularly true for dairy and wheat products, as they may have effect on sleep, such as causing apnea, excess congestion, gastrointestinal upset, and gas, among others.

6. Don't drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed. This will reduce the likelihood of needing to get up and go to the bathroom or at least minimize the frequency.

7. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex: Move the television to another room. Don’t initiate important relationship discussions or have arguments in the bedroom.

8. Clear your mind of anxious thoughts: Before you retire to the bedroom, write down anything you need to remember for tomorrow so that you don’t have to worry as you go to bed.

9. Exercise early in the day: Exercising late in the day can make you feel too awake to sleep.

10. Take a hot bath to induce a drop in your body temperature: The onset of sleep is correlated with a drop in body temperature. If you have difficulty going to sleep, take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime so that your temperature has to decrease afterwards.

For additional ideas on how you can improve your sleep The Red Mountain Spa has a great article entitled Waking Up is Hard to Do  by Dr. Ralph Ofcarcik, Ph.D. Director of Nutrition Services. 

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