Sleep problems are becoming an epidemic in this country, causing more and more people to ask for hypnotic sleep medications at night, which, if you read my post yesterday, you know are NOT healthy for human consumption. Interestingly enough, most sleep medications approved by the FDA (ie, Tylenol PM, ambien, benadryl, etc) and alcohol suppress REM sleep causing you to feel even more sleepy and get less of the much needed restorative sleep you're trying to achieve. Ironic, much?
So, from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, I present...
7 Strategies for Serene Sleep
Tips from sleep specialist Rubin Naiman, PhD
1. Ritualize the Rhythms of Activity and Rest
• Create an energizing ritual with morning light exposure and exercise.
• Learn to rest during the day with meditation and breathing practices.
• Maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends.
• Develop a soothing evening ritual as a bridge to sleep.
2. Use Dusk and Darkness as Sleep Medicine
• Simulate dusk: dim your lights for a couple of hours before bed.
• Always use blue light reduction technology to watch TV or use computers.
• Slow down with warm bath, journaling, rest practices, yoga, and intimacy.
• Consider melatonin replacement therapy as needed and sleep in total darkness.
3. Quiet Your Body Noise
• Avoid “counterfeit energies”—caffeine, sugary foods, and adrenalin.
• Carefully check for possible sleep side effects of all medications used.
• Check your alcohol intake—drinking less, earier, and with food is best.
• A bedtime snack of complex carbohydrates may be helpful.
4. Create a Sleep Sanctuary
• Keep your bedroom cool (68 degrees or less), dark and quiet during sleep.
• Gradually move toward a more “green”—organic and natural—bedroom.
• Get electric clocks and other such devices away from your head and bed.
• Do all you can to feel psychologically safe in your bedroom.
5. Learn to Surrender to Sleep
• Avoid the chemical knockout of sleeping pills and alcohol.
• You cannot literally “go to sleep”—practice “letting go of waking.”
• Approach getting to sleep as a personal spiritual practice—an act of faith.
• Consider using natural sleep aids such as lavender and valerian, if needed.
6. Don’t Battle Nighttime Wakefulness
• Go to bed only when you feel sleepy.
• Never watch the clock from bed—it pulls us back into the waking world.
• If you can’t sleep, get up, sit in a comfortable spot until you’re sleepy again.
• Use nighttime wakefulness as an opportunity to meditate or pray.
7. Arise Mindfully with Intention in the Morning
• Obtain at least 20 minutes of daily exposure to morning light shortly after arising.
• Awaken slowly and explore your grogginess in the morning.
• Let the memories of your dreams come and note them.
• Set conscious intentions to guide your waking day.
Copyright © 2012 Rubin Naiman
Dr. Maltz earned a Medical Degree and Master in Public Health from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX. She completed a combined Internal and Preventive Medicine Residency at UTMB in June, 2011. She then completed a 2-year Integrative Medicine Fellowship at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT, during which she simultaneously underwent an intensive 1000-hour curriculum created by The University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Program founded by Dr. Andrew Weil.