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How to develop a healthy sleep pattern

Returning to a normal restful sleep pattern may require practicing certain sleep-promoting behaviors throughout the day and night.

During the day

*The following is especially important for people with high-pressure, stressful jobs: Before you leave your workplace at the end of the workday, spend some extra time, say half an hour if necessary, writing down in your journal all the things you hoped to complete but will carry over to the next day. Entrusting them to memory is not enough. Write them down. If completing a task, say making a phone call to get delivery time confirmation, requires special information, in this case a phone number, then go to the trouble of getting that phone number, the customer’s name and address or whatever, and write it down along with each of the tasks. Make sure your list of tasks to complete tomorrow is exhaustive. If one or more of the tasks involves convincing someone of something or arguing, write down all the arguments you will use and write down all the objections and arguments your protagonist is likely to use and your best response to them. When you finally finish this writing assignment, go home and do something you enjoy. Taking this tip to heart will mean you won’t be up at night thinking about the possible scenarios you’ll face tomorrow. Not long ago I “cured” an executive of his anxiety, depression, and insomnia with nothing more than this advice.

*Get into a routine. Organize your day with regular periods for eating, doing homework, cultural or social activities, and going to bed and getting up in the morning. In this way we develop an “internal clock” and keep it running consistently.

* Solve your problems during the day. The first point above is closely related to this idea.

*Avoid taking naps during the day or going to bed especially late or especially early. This is closely related to the previous point of “establishing a routine”. It also means getting out of bed at regular times. If you sometimes wake up too early just enjoy “laying down” until it’s time to get up. On the other hand, don’t stay in bed past the predetermined optimal time to get up.

In the afternoon

Nothing significant will be left in your mind about the problems that arise during the day because you will have followed the advice given in the first point under “During the day.”

*Do some light exercise in the early night. Eg Taking the dog for a walk after work, going for a run or a walk on the beach or riding a bike, or going to the gym. But don’t do it late at night or it will have the opposite effect to what you wanted.

* Get in the habit of “winding down” at night with some quiet activity, like listening to music, reading, or saying needlework (I practice my guitar scales).

*After 5pm do not drink coffee, coke or even tea.

*Do not use alcohol as a sleep aid and keep your total intake moderate, the maximum recommended daily intake is 4 standard drinks for men or 2 standard drinks for women. A standard drink is 285ml (i.e. a “pot” or “midi” glass) of straight beer, or 2/3 of a 175ml glass of 11.5% abv wine, or 2/3 of a 375ml can of pre-mixed cocktail. Try to have 2 alcohol-free days per week.

*Make sure your bedroom and bed are not too hot or too cold.

*Use your blinds or shades to make sure the morning light doesn’t wake you up prematurely.

* Do not eat a heavy meal close to bedtime. A light, tasty snack is fine.

*Right before bedtime is a good time to perform a methodical relaxation routine. Progressive muscle relaxation as taught in yoga is a good example.

*Go to bed when you are sleepy.

*Turn off the light when you go to bed. It is best to do any reading before bed.

* Don’t watch TV in bed.

* Once you are in bed, be thankful that you are in bed and fully relax. Don’t worry about how long it will be before sleep comes.

Overnight

*If you wake up at night and are not sleepy, get up and do something until you feel sleepy again.

*If you live near a place where there is loud noise at night or early in the morning, for example 24-hour traffic, construction or engineering activities, then get some good earplugs.

*Try to avoid using sleeping pills, as they do not establish a good long-term sleep pattern.

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