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Secrets of Sound Sleep

Susie Cortright -- A single good night's sleep can rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul. Here's how to get one tonight.

In Preparation

-- A regular exercise routine will help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more refreshed, but experts don't recommend vigorous exercise fewer than three hours before bedtime. Instead, schedule your workout five to six hours before lights out. (Exercise causes your core body temperature to rise, and natural sleepiness will set in when your body temperature drops again).

-- Find another place for stressful activities. Pay your bills at the kitchen table, not in your bedroom.

-- Avoid nicotine and alcohol before bed. Nicotine is a potent stimulant, and the metabolism of alcohol has an alerting effect.

-- Skip the afternoon latte, too. The stimulating effect of caffeine can remain for as long as 12 hours. Keep in mind that many teas and sodas, such as Mountain Dew, contain high caffeine levels, as well.

-- Restrict your water intake just before bed and during the night. Midnight trips to the bathroom can cut into your sleep, particularly if you have a hard time dozing off again. Six hours of continuous sleep often result in a more rested feeling than eight hours of on-again, off-again snoozing because non-consecutive sleep interrupts its deep, restorative phases.

-- Check to see if any of your prescription or over-the-counter medications may be interfering with your sleep. Some diet pills, birth control pills, anti-depressants, and blood pressure medications can have a rousing effect. Sleeping pills, while tempting, are not the answer. They quickly lose their effectiveness and can be addictive.

At Night

-- Create a nest. Eliminate clutter, maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature, and keep the room dark. Nightlights and bright moonlight can interfere with quality sleep. Install window treatments that block light, such as wooden Venetian blinds or shades with blackout lining.

-- Practice aromatherapy. Lavender oil or a lavender sachet on your bedside table may help you feel sleepy and more relaxed.

-- Maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Try eating a high-carbohydrate snack 30 to 45 minutes before bed. Then engage only in relaxing activities.

-- Stock your bedside table with easy reads that are both empowering and relaxing.

-- Keep a notebook and a pen near your bed, as well, to jot down any late night worries. The act of recording your anxieties will help clear them from your head so you can relax into slumber.

-- Make a ritual of giving your subconscious a problem to solve during the hours you spend sleeping. You'll be surprised how often you'll wake up with the solution after a good night's sleep.

Still Can't Fall Asleep?

-- Just do it. Orgasms increase endorphins, which can help you feel into a deep sleep.

-- If your mate is causing you to lose sleep, get help. Consult a doctor about a chronic snoring problem. Invest in a good mattress so you won't move every time your spouse does.

-- If you haven't fallen asleep within 30 minutes, there's a problem. Staring at the ceiling will only increase your anxiety. Get out of bed. Do something relaxing, such as deep breathing or meditative exercises. Then try again later.

Susie Michelle Cortright is the author of several books for women and founder of the award-winning, a Web site designed to help busy women find balance. Visit today and get Susie's course-by-email, "6 Days to Less Stress" free.

© 2004 Susie Cortright

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