Try these 10 tips below and see if you get immediate relief from your sleep disorder:
1. No caffeine 10 hours before you go to bed. It actually takes that long for caffeine to metabolize and be completely out of your brain. Even if you think caffeine doesn't affect you, it does disturb all the biological processes that your brain performs during sleep including your REM or dream sleep.
2. Same goes for alcohol: because alcohol is a vasodilator and disinhibits brain control centers, sleep can be difficult. It usually takes 2-3 hours to metabolize 1 glass of wine out of brain tissues.
3. Get a good pillow Neck tension can disrupt sleep and cause restlessness. Pillows are now made for side, back and face down sleepers. The same concept goes for getting rid of and replacing that 20 yr old bed with that huge sag in the middle.
4. Unplug the TV in the bedroom for 7 days; yes unplug. When I did this I was surprised how many times I tried to turn on the TV forgetting that I unplugged it. For most of us, TV is a bad habit that keeps us from going to bed on time. Sleeping with the TV on actually keeps some unconscious centers of the brain hyper alert preventing good sleep.
5. Exercise. Even exercise late at night does not disrupt sleeping, in fact you sleep better. This is probably the best thing you can do to sleep well. Walks outside in the morning are the best, see below
6. Bright daylight particularly in the blue or green spectrum inhibits melatonin production during the day. Complete darkness at night allows full release of brain melatonin for sleep. The pineal gland located behind eye retinal nerve cells regulates how this gland responds and produces melatonin. If you're taking a 5 to 10 minute walk in the morning daylight, you're setting up your melatonin production to be good that same night; with exercise you've got 2 birds with one stone.
7. No heavy meals before sleep and conversely don't go to bed hungry. Heavy meals pull blood flow from the brain and disrupt all the important functions the brain accomplishes during sleep. Your brain is a highly active organ during sleep and sleep is an evolutionary process to accomplish these tasks. Not eating enough also robs your brain of needed nutrients for biologic sleep functions.
8. No liquids 1 hour before bed and also void before going to bed. Waking up to pee in the middle of the night disrupts sleep. Trying to fall back to sleep delays your sleep cycle and ruins your sleep for the next night.
9. No internet, Facebook, or other social media devices when you get into bed. Try instead, reading or laying in the dark and allowing your conscious mind to relax. Think about all the good stuff that happened during the day and actively suppress the negative. Reliving the things you can't change sets you up for anxiety and depression.
10. Keep a note pad next to your bed. That way if any to do things come to mind, write them down in the dark and let your mind go and relax. I can't believe how many of my patients keep themselves awake trying to remember things at night. Also this is a great way to learn how to remember your dreams by scrawling out in the dark anything that seemed vivid. You'll find as you remember more, you won't be able to wait to go to bed!
Any other ideas you can think of? Let me know and sweet dreams. Seek a professional psychiatrist if you have more concerns about your sleep disorder.