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Early to Bed, Early to Rise

By, Dr. Jillan Rowbotham, Rittenhouse Women’s Wellness Center

An important part of keeping your immune system strong during this winter’s cold and flu season is making sure you get enough sleep. Adults need around seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but many fall short of that. If you are having trouble sleeping there are a few adjustments you can make at home that just might help you get the sleep you need.

Create a routine to help prepare your mind and body for sleep

• Establish a relaxing bedtime routine such as taking a warm bath and reading for 10 minutes before going to bed. By doing the same thing every night before going to sleep eventually these activities will help you feel sleepy.

• If you find that your mind races when you try to go to sleep, putting your thoughts down on paper can help get them out of your head. You want to avoid doing any activities that may be mentally or emotionally stimulating right before you go to sleep.

• Resist the temptation to ‘sleep in’ on weekends or days you don’t have to work. It is better to have a regular bedtime and waking time.

Create a calming sleep environment

• Your bedroom should be dark, quiet, cool, and tidy. Visible clutter can keep your mind active and add to stress. If noise is a problem, a humidifier this time of year can provide soothing white noise as well as some much-needed moisture into the air.

• Use your bed only for sleeping or for having sex. Avoid watching TV, talking on the phone, or eating in bed.

• Keep all bedroom clocks out of sight. Clock watching can add to stress and makes it harder to fall asleep.

Pay attention to the timing of activities

• Try not to consume caffeine after lunch; it can take from 6-8 hours to eliminate just half of the caffeine you ingest.

• Limit or stop using nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime. Though alcohol may initially make you feel sleepy, it often causes you to wake up in the middle of the night.

• Exercise daily in the morning or afternoon. Exercising at night can make you too alert to fall asleep.

• Don’t eat a large meal close to your bedtime.

Consistent use of these techniques and re-establishing routines takes time and effort, but a good night’s sleep is well worth it!

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