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How Your Sleep Routine Affects Your Health

November 30th, 2011 0 comments
Insomnia

Are you having problems getting to sleep?  The amount and quality of sleep that you get can have a profound impact on your health.  If you’re struggling to get a decent night’s sleep, your doctor may be able to help, but you might also want to consider a bit of self-treatment. This can begin with a look at your sleeping habits and your routine.

Image by Ben Seidelman

Do You Have a Routine?

What does your sleep routine look like?  Do you have one, or does your sleeping pattern and preparation for bedtime turn out to be different every night?

Whether or not you have an established routine, you probably do something along these lines: you may read a book, watch television, exercise, or finish up some work; then you might have a snack or a drink, brush your teeth and wash your face before heading off to bed.  Let me point out first of all that for most people, it helps to have a routine.  And secondly, it doesn’t help so  much if your bedtime routine includes counterproductive activities.

Unhelpful Bedtime Habits

Have you ever drunk caffeinated beverages late into the night, or stayed up hours later than usual to play a video game or watch a movie? Add in a little social networking and the “always on” nature of modern mobile-connected living, and you have a recipe for insomnia.

Some of these negative habits are quite straightforward to identify.  Obviously, it won’t help you sleep to have sugar-filled candy and caffeine late at night.  Apart from putting down that energy drink, you could also try avoiding activities that may overstimulate you: watching television, exercising close to your bedtime, or doing work or household tasks may make you less likely to sleep.

The Positive Sleeping Habits

When you wind down at the end of the day, relaxing activities are important to help you sleep easier.  Think of things to do that will calm you down.  For instance, listening to soft and unhurried music might be a good idea.  Relaxing with a book for a little bit can also help if you enjoy reading, but try to choose something that isn’t too stimulating or absorbing to read.  If you start relaxing for a while, even as little as half an hour, before bedtime then you may find it easier to settle down for a quiet night’s sleep.

Sleep Like a Baby

Think about how much babies enjoy having a familiar bedtime routine. That familiarity helps them to feel calm and contented. Take some time to identify how you get ready for bed.  Are you overindulging in activities that may be keeping you awake?  Do you spend time on relaxing things – such as a warm bath, meditation, or soft music – before you go to bed? Consider how you can improve your bedtime routine.  A sense of regularity, familiarity and order may help to relax you.

As you get a better idea of how you normally get to sleep, you can start to identify the areas of your routine that you might want to try changing. If you’re still struggling to sleep after trying a few of these tips, check whether your health insurance covers any consultations or treatments for insomnia issues – if so, you might want to explore those options next.

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