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Sleep is something that every body craves. So why does everyone struggle with it periodically? You’ve tried to do it right – you skip caffeine late in the day; you don’t eat a heavy meal right before bed; you make sure the lights are off; you try to follow a consistent bedtime schedule each day. Yet, as you lay in bed sleepless, frustration creeping in, none of this seems to matter. When insomnia hits, you could spend hours stressing, instead of doing a few easy things to slip gently into sleep.
Difficulty falling (and staying) asleep is a common problem. As an important source of fuel for the body, sleep is a valuable commodity. If you have been lying in bed for a while and can’t sleep, get up. Don’t stay in bed, worrying about not having enough energy for tomorrow. Do something to encourage a more rapid appearance by the Sandman.
1. Go for a soak
Relax in the bathtub. This soothes both body and mind. Try adding some sleep inducing scents into the tub like lavender oil. Caution: Don’t take a shower. This can awaken your body. Opt for a warm bath instead. Add some candles and calm music for heightened relaxation. A second hint: Sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow to pacify you in bed, too.
2. The old wives tale works
Have a glass of warm milk. You thought this was just an old wives’ tale, but it actually works! Warm milk has a tranquilizing effect on the body that can calm you down and prepare you for sleep. The same amino acid (triptophane) that gives turkey its reputation for causing drowsiness is also found in milk, and it causes more serotonin to be released in the body. Can’t stand the idea of warm milk? Add a drop or two of vanilla extract. Still not sounding tempting? Try some chamomile tea. A number of people think an alcoholic drink right before bed does the trick. Although this might initially make you sleepy, it doesn’t prep you for sound sleep. Chances are, you’ll toss and turn during the night.
3. Find an activity
Do something relaxing out of the bed. Try reading (pass on the action thriller, though). Watch something a little boring on television at low volume (think the Learning or Home Shopping Channels). Don’t watch anything that will wind you back up. Looking for other ideas? Sew, scrapbook, or write a letter. This activity should be easy, nothing that will key your nervous system back up. Once your eyes get droopy again, hit the sack.