A good night's sleep

From what I have read and what I I just know 7-9 hours of sleep at night is recommended and ideal.
Because I get up at 5:30 four days a week I try to get in bed between 9:30 and 10. I usually have no problem falling asleep. A lot of time I am crashing on the couch while watching TV. (And even on the weekends it is tough for me to stay up past 10.)
Falling asleep is the easy part for me. Staying asleep is another story. I wake up a lot. It seems to go through cycles. A good night of sleep for me is only waking up a few times and falling right back asleep. A bad night is waking up more than five times and and a few of those times being awake for 30 minutes to an hour.
If I am having a lot of trouble falling back asleep I will usually move to the spare room and try to sack out on the futon.
I do have Ambien. But I take it sparingly. If I have two to three nights of bad sleep that third or fourth night I will take half a sleeping pill. That stuff is like magic. No wonder people get addicted. It works so well. I make sure to take it at least 8 hours before I have to get up. And I wake up feeling great.
But I can’t take it when I am waking up in the middle of the night. I have noticed on Facebook that many of my readers have a hard time sleeping. Many have insomnia. So these suggestions are especially for you. Of course, nothing works 100% of the time. And please, feel free to add anything else to my list:

  • For me, I feel like cardio definitely helps. When I ride hard on the spin bike that seems to help. (It also worked when I was taking kick boxing.)
  • Take a yoga class. Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin, whatever type you prefer.
  • Take a Restorative Yoga class. The class will teach you to calm your mind and learn to relax.
  • Take a full body stretch. Try it a couple of times.
  • I also try my yoga breathing. I practice calm, even and smooth breath with Ujjayi breathing (think Darth Vader breathing). It took me years to get the even, calm and smooth breathing of my inhale. Exhaling is pretty easy to conquer.
  • If caffeine really affects you try not to have any after noon.
  • While drinking water is definitely a good thing. Drinking it before bed will likely wake you up at least once, maybe more often during the night.
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: regular exercise; proper diet (limit junk food, high fat and high calories)
  • Limiting stress is important. But sometimes impossible. I suggest yoga to help with that. Or really any exercise. Sometimes I get my stress out better with kick boxing than I do with a yoga class.
  • Alcohol is probably not a good idea right before bed. (I personally find that it helps me sleep. But I try to limit my alcohol intake to weekends.)
  • If you take a nap (I try to on weekends), try not to take it too late or it could really make it tough to go to bed that night.
  • Try to keep a regular sleep schedule: Go to bed around the same time and focus on getting 7-8 hours of sleep. (I know there is a lot to do in life. Believe me, I somehow have to cram my evening into about 2 hours each night: shower; make dinner; eat dinner; pack lunch for next day; clothes and gym bag ready for next day: blog … )

Sunday nights I never sleep well. Coming off the weekend and going back into a strict routine seems to get my mind going at bedtime. I get anxious and stressed if I know I am not going to get a decent amount of sleep. So I solve this by taking half a sleeping pill. I really try to limit my pill intake. And most weeks I only have to take one on Sundays.
The Help Guide gives some good tips on how to sleep better. A great tip about postponing worrying/brainstorming by jotting it down. Sometimes I e-mail myself–but I have to get up out of bed and grab my phone. But I am now thinking of putting a pad of paper and pen on my nightstand.
This blog post has some good suggestions as well. If I am having a hard time falling asleep–rare for me–I have a better time falling asleep with background noise, like the TV. I know for many that can be a disturbance. Probably reading a book would help, too. And now that I am reading again I will try it next time.
Most websites I am researching have most of the same tips. I will include one more from the Mayo Clinic. I like their idea of having a nighttime ritual.
Here’s to sleeping well tonight.