(www.BlackDoctor.org) -- I think it’s been about a year since I’ve had a full night’s sleep. I have an infant and I have a 4-year-old child. The baby started sleeping through the night at about 5 and one half months—that is to say, I have not had to get up and nurse him during the night. We still have what my husband and I call “paci-alerts.” A devoted pacifier child, the baby wakes up if he cannot find his pacifier. It’s a quick fix, but still enough to get you up out of bed. My four year old is at the age where many things are scary. So although the baby is sleeping through most nights, I am often awakened to soothe mounting fears of one sort or another. And then there is the wild card—my husband, who snores. If I didn’t know better I’d say it’s an evil plot against me.
Although this is a trying time for me, I do know that it is temporary. As my children get older, they will sleep peacefully through the night and although I will always have an ear alerted to their cries, I will once again experience restful sleep. Unfortunately, millions of adults cannot say the same. The National Sleep Foundation reports that as many as 50% of American adults experience sleep disturbances at any given time, either difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep.
If you have difficulty sleeping, consult with your healthcare provider. You may have an underlying condition such as depression, restless leg syndrome or obstructive sleep apnea that is the root problem. These conditions can be corrected, allowing you to return to restful sleep.
In the meantime, try these five techniques to improve your sleep:
1. Go to sleep the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning (even on the weekends). It will help your body develop a sleep rhythm.
2. Create a sleep ritual and stick with it. Having a routine such as a bath before bed prepares your body and mind for sleep.
3. Turn off the phone and spend some time completely alone. Avoid calls, text messages and emails. Use this time to take a few deep breaths and do something you love.
4. Take the television out of your bedroom. While many people sleep to the television, studies show that the flashing lights are stimulating and actually disrupt your sleep. At the very least, turn the television off when you go to bed to sleep.
5. Save your bed for sleep and sex. Don’t read or do work in bed. If you can’t sleep, get up until you feel sleepy enough to lie down again.
If all else fails, ask your healthcare provider for a sleep aid. Use these drugs cautiously under professional supervision to avoid daytime grogginess and dependence.
Return to Indulge Me: Rest & Relaxation for more feel good tips.