Why doesnt the sandman come? Probably because youve made it difficult for him. What positions you sleep in, what you sleep on, what kind of snack you eat, what exercise you do before bedtime, and if youre on the computer or watching television right before bed, will influence whether you have a good nights sleep or spend your night time tossing and turning.
There are solutions to a sound sleep and for many of us, one of them is not to take a sleeping pill or to up the dosage if youre already taking such drugs. Although Americans swallow more than a billion prescription sleeping pills a year, studies show that the effectiveness of the pills quickly drops off. After two weeks, they are of relatively little use against insomnia. Moreover, research proved that the pill can cause a decrease in physical and mental capabilities and of course may be addictive.
The first step to better sleep is to check your posture. The best sleeping position is the so-called fetal position, on your side (it doesnt matter which side), with one or both knees drawn up. Sleeping on your stomach can be a cause of lower back pain, and sleeping with your arms or hands tucked under your head may cut off blood circulation and place stress on the arms, shoulders, and upper back.
Select your mattress carefully, lying on it for a few minutes before you decide whether to purchase it. Choose one thats comfortable but also firm. It should provide well-balanced support for your spine.If you find yourself waking several times during the night, suffering from head pains, or if you have a splitting headache when you get up in the morning, its possible youre a victim of a common condition that doctors call turtle headache. Its caused by pulling the bedcover turtle-like over your head while sleeping. This restricts the brains supply of oxygen. The severest pain is usually felt in the frontal area. The cure is exactly what you would expect: dont keep your head under the covers. In most cases this should solve the problem at once.Exercise before bedtime can be an aid to sound sleeping, but the type of activity is what counts. Vigorous exercising tennis, running, bike riding done late in the day tends to lengthen the time it takes most people to fall asleep. Studies show that static exercise push-ups, weight lifting two hours before bedtime may make sleep come more swiftly. Yoga stretches and tai chi are also good options.A glass of warm milk before bedtime may aid in inducing sleep. Scientists have confirmed that the warm milk contains a sleep-inducing natural amino acid called tryptophan. And if you feel like having a bedtime snack try nuts, chicken, turkey, cottage cheese or tuna fish along with your warm milk. They all contain significant amounts of tryptophan. But stay away from cookies. Sugar will only keep you awake.
Nicotine, by the way, is a stimulant. Research shows that heavy smoking can increase the time needed to fall asleep by up to 45 percent and also affect the quality of the sleep.Its also best to stay off the computer and not watch any television right before and after youve tucked in. This way you give your brain a chance to relax. And sleep experts suggest keeping both out of your bedroom. Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Window treatments to keep the light out are also important to inducing and keeping you asleep.What about counting sheep? A wives tale? Not really; psychologists say it works. Visualizing the sheep occupies the right, or creative, side of the brain, while the counting process keeps the left, or rational, side busy. With both sides of the brain humming away youre prevented from dwelling on problems and unpleasant thoughts that might keep you from a good nights sleep.About the Author: Robin Westen writes about health for national magazines.See what others have to say about his story or leave a comment of your own.