Remember the good ol’ days when sleep was a reward for a hard day’s work? How about those enchanting dreams that were predictably interrupted by an alarm clock? While many people enjoy a good night’s sleep, others continually suffer from insomnia and restless nights.
“The harder I try to get to sleep, the harder it is to actually get to sleep,” says Tracey Counts, a freelance graphic designer who works at various broadcast television networks in New York. “By the time I finally fall asleep, it’s time to wake up again.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, Counts is not alone. At least 40 million people have reported experiencing one or more symptoms of insomnia. These include difficulty falling asleep, waking during the night, waking too early, or waking feeling far from refreshed. This chronic condition leaves many feeling lethargic throughout the course of their day.
Insomnia is often a warning symptom of an emotional problem such as worry, anxiety, depression, or stress. However, it can also be attributed to improper use of the body. Danielle Thomas, president and optimal health specialist for Divine Life Inc., a New Jersey-based wellness company, offers these helpful tips for a great night’s sleep:
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola drinks are all high in caffeine. Although alcohol is a depressant, research has shown that it, as well as tobacco, upsets sleep patterns and prevents people from experiencing a deep rest. Avoid all of these substances four to six hours before bedtime.
- Engage in daily physical exercise. People with office jobs have far more trouble with insomnia than people whose work is physical in nature. Fifteen minutes a day of exercise will give your body the activity and oxygen it needs to help you relax more and sleep longer.
- Reserve your bed for the purpose of sleep. When you get into bed, your body should be programmed to shut down and get rest. So avoid eating, reading, working, or watching television in bed. It will confuse your body and prolong the process of getting to sleep.
- Sleep in a well-ventilated room. Fresh air and a room temperature between 60 and 65 degrees will provide the best sleeping conditions. Keep the thermostat down and adjust your temperature from inside the bed with the appropriate amount of sheets or blankets.