HAVE INSOMNIA? HERE ARE THE “DOs” and “DONTs”

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Insomnia is ubiquitous. Almost everyone experiences insomnia at some point, especially as we age. Why? According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), short-term insomnia can result from stress, depression, diet, jet lag and other causes. Here are some causes and solutions.
1. Caffeine
DON’T
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. Even one cup will have you racing all day. It can also increase nighttime urination and adversely impact your sleep, according to Andrew Weil, MD, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.
DO
Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 7 hours, so if you have trouble sleeping, drink it before noon.
2. Alcohol
DON’T
University of Maryland Medical Center reports that about 10-15% of chronic insomnia cases result from substance abuse, especially alcohol. Excess alcohol tends to fragment sleep and cause you to wake every few hours.
DO
Limit yourself to one or two drinks with dinner.
3. Sleeping Pills
DON’T
Sleeping pills come with a lot of risky baggage and they’ve been linked to negative side effects like headaches, nausea, fatigue, memory loss, addiction and parasomnias such as sleep walking. Long time use of these chemicals in your systems can make you feel like you’re always in a fog.
DO
Try natural alternatives like melatonin: It’s a hormone produced in your body that controls your sleep cycle. As we age, melatonin levels drop, so you may want to try a supplement. 
Blue light emitted from your electronic devices can mess up your body's sleep cues.
4. Lights Out!
DON’T
Light emitting devices stimulate and engage the mind, which is the opposite of what you want to be doing right before bed.
DO
Cell phones, laptops, iPads, TVs, night lights—they all need to be switched off if you expect to get a good night’s sleep. All the way off. Prevent any light from coming into your retinae. Wear an eye mask. Open the blinds or go outside as soon as you wake to get energized
5. Up in Smoke
DON’T
Nicotine is a natural stimulant, so it keeps you from falling asleep. Even worse, withdrawal pangs may keep you awake at night. Studies show that smokers are four times more likely to feel not as well rested after a night’s sleep than nonsmokers.
DO
As if you needed another reason to quit.
6. Eat early and eat well 
DON’T
Digesting food requires energy, so if you eat a heavy meal late at night, your body will be hard at work digesting when it should be sleeping. Steer clear of greasy or fatty foods before bed as well, as they cause reflux which can wake you up during the night, says Sandra Fryhofer, MD, from the Council on Science and Public Health.
DO
Eat balanced meals throughout the day, and make breakfast your biggest.  Cherries are a great source for naturally boosting your melatonin levels. “When consumed regularly, tart cherries may help regulate the body’s natural sleep cycle and increase sleep efficiency, including decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep,” says Russel J. Reiter, PhD, one of the world’s leading authorities on melatonin. (In fact, drinking cherry juice was shown to help people sleep 90 more minutes a night.)
Eat cherries for a boost of melatonin.
7. Stay cool
DO
When your body temperature drops, you start to produce more melatonin, so keep your bedroom temperature between 65° and 75°F. Taking a hot shower or bath right before bed helps too, since the quick drop of temperature after you get out makes you feel sleepy.

When your body temperature drops, you produce more melatonin
8. Consistent  Exercise
DO
Some say that exercising in the evening makes elusive sleep harder to find, but it really depends on the person. Find the time of day that exercise makes your body most happy, and stick with it. One study showed that having a regular exercise schedule helped insomniacs feel less depressed and more energized throughout the day.
9. Say om to yoga.
DO
Gentle yoga before sleep will put your mind and body to rest. You can even do these easy poses in bed!
Short meditation: Sit cross-legged on your bed and lean back slightly onto your pillows. Rest your hands on your thighs, close your eyes and just breathe for a few minutes.
Cross-legged bend: Still in this position, bend forward from your hips and stretch your arms out in front of you on the bed. Stay here for a few minutes.
Reclining twist: Lie flat on your bed. Hug your right knee into your chest, then twist your leg across your body to the left while turning your head to the right. Lower your leg, and then do the same with your left leg.
10. Consistent Sleep Schedule
DO
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you stick to a regular bedtime routine. That means going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day (yes, even weekends!). Try to avoid spending more time in bed than you need. Maintaining good light hygiene will help: Shut out all light at bedtime, open the blinds or go outside as soon as you wake to get energized.

 

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