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Tips for getting a good night
Tips for teachers and parents – getting a good nights sleep
After the earthquake:
Getting enough sleep
How much sleep we need differs from person to person. You will need to experiment
a little to find the sleep strategies that work best for you as sleep requirements vary
from person to person. To function at maximum effectiveness, most healthy adults
need around 8 hours of sleep each night and women generally need a little more.
These tips are intended for "typical" adults but not necessarily for children or persons
experiencing medical problems. Improving your ability to get to sleep
Remember when you were a child you had a set time and a routine to go to bed?
Your parents knew that this was one of the ways to ensure that you had enough
sleep. Try to keep to a reasonably regular sleep schedule. You will feel much more
refreshed and energised if you keep a regular and consistent sleep schedule. Try as
far as possible to:
1. Set a regular bedtime
. Go to bed at approximately the same time every night
including weekends. If you are really tired try going to bed slightly earlier.
2. Wake up at the same time every day
. When you are getting enough sleep, you
should be able to wake without relying on the alarm clock, because your body has
developed a sleep pattern. Try to maintain your regular wake–time even on
weekends although up to an extra hour should not disrupt your normal sleep cycle.
3. Nap to make up for lost sleep rather than sleeping in.
For some people it is better
to try a daytime nap rather than sleeping in late. This way you can recover from lost
sleep debt without disrupting your normal sleep cycle. If naps work for you, have
them in the early afternoon, and try limiting the length to thirty minutes.
4. Fight after–dinner drowsiness.
If you give in to after dinner drowsiness, you may
wake up during the night and then have trouble getting back to sleep. Rather than
flopping on the couch or your favourite chair, try doing something to avoid falling
asleep, such as washing the dishes, calling a friend, or getting clothes ready for the
5. Make your bedroom “sleep friendly”.
Ensuring your bedroom is sleep friendly can
help you sleep better. Turn off your television. If you have a television in your
bedroom, turn it off. In particular don’t watch the late evening news especially after
an event that has led to disrupted sleep as it is likely that the event will feature in the
news and stimulate your focus on the event rather than helping you relax.
Even the most relaxing program or movie can interfere with the body’s clock due to
the continuous flickering light coming from the TV or computer screen.
If you are used to falling asleep to the TV, try soft music or a fan as an alternative. If your favourite show is on late, record it and watch at an earlier time on another day. 6. Keep noise down.
People differ in their sensitivity to noise, but as a general rule, you’ll sleep better when your bedroom is quiet. If you can’t avoid or eliminate noise from barking dogs, loud neighbours, traffic, or other people in your household, try masking it with a fan, recordings of soothing sounds, or white noise. White noise can be particularly effective in blocking out other sounds and helping you sleep. You can buy a special sound machine or generate your own white noise by setting your radio between stations. Earplugs may also help. 7. Keep your room dark and cool.
When it’s time to sleep, make sure that your environment is dark. Even dim lights—especially those from TV or computer screens—can confuse the body clock. Heavy curtains or shades can help block light from windows, or you can try an eye mask to cover your eyes. If your bedroom is too hot or too cold this can interfere with quality sleep. Most people sleep best in a room which is around 18°C and has adequate ventilation. 8. Make sure your bed is comfortable.
Is your bed big enough? It is helpful to have enough room to stretch and turn comfortably, even if you are sharing with a partner. Your mattress and bedding are also important. If you often wake up with a sore back or an aching neck, you may need to consider a new mattress or a try a different pillow. Experiment with different mattress toppers, and pillows that provide more support. 9. Reserve your bed for sleeping.
If you associate your bed with events like catching up on work or emails, texting etc, it will be harder to wind down and get to sleep. Use your bed only for sleep, sex and reading if this helps you unwind. Your body needs to associate bed with sleep. 10. Relaxing routines make it easier to get to sleep.
If you make a consistent effort to relax and unwind before bed, you will sleep easier and more deeply. A peaceful bedtime routine sends a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down and let go of the day’s stresses. Relaxing bedtime rituals to try:
• Read a light, entertaining book or magazine.
• Take a warm bath or a spa but it should be done early enough or not be so
hot that you are still over-heated when you go to bed
• A small sandwich with chicken or peanut butter
• A small bowl of whole–grain, low–sugar cereal perhaps with low fat milk or
• A banana and a cup of hot chamomile tea
• Have your partner give you a relaxing massage
• Before you go to bed, write a list of things you need to do the next day. This
Things to avoid which make it harder to go to sleep or get a good night’s sleep
1. Try not to eat late. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening. Aim to finish
your evening meal two or three hours before your normal bed time.
2. Avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Fatty foods take a lot of work
for your stomach to digest and may keep you up.
3. Avoid alcohol before bed. While it may make you fall asleep more easily,
alcohol reduces your sleep quality, waking you up during the night. Have a drink with your meal but not in the two hours before bed.
4. Cut down on caffeine. Caffeine (coffee, tea, colas and chocolate) remain in
the body on average from 3 to 5 hours, but they can affect some people up to 12 hours later. Even if you do not think caffeine affects you, it may be disrupting and changing the quality of your sleep. Avoiding caffeine within 6-8 hours of going to bed can help improve sleep quality.
5. Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening. Drinking lots in the evening
can cause frequent bathroom trips during the night. Caffeinated drinks act as diuretics and will only make things worse.
6. Vigorous exercise. Exercising too late in the day actually stimulates the body,
raising its temperature. That’s the opposite of what you want near bedtime, because a cooler body temperature promotes sleep. Try to exercise in the morning or late afternoon.
7. Avoid arousing activities immediately before bedtime. This might include
working, paying bills, or family problem-solving.
8. Avoid exposure to bright light before bedtime. Bright light signals the neurons
that help control the sleep-wake cycle that it is time to wake up, not go to sleep.
9. Do not engage in activities that cause you anxiety and prevent you from
sleeping. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine.
10. Don’t smoke. Nicotine is a stimulant which disrupts sleep. Smokers can
experience nicotine withdrawal as the night progresses, which will make it harder to sleep.
11. Learn some relaxation techniques to help you get to sleep. There are a
number of relaxation techniques which you can try before you go to bed or even once you are in bed that can help you to wind down, calm your mind, and prepare for sleep.
Simple relaxation techniques
• Deep breathing.
Close your eyes. Start by letting out a big breath through
your mouth and then breath in through your nose counting slowly to four. Hold the breath while you count to slowly to four and then let out as much as you can. Repeat the cycle— making each in breath deeper than the last. When breathing, place one hand just below your ribs and the other on the top of your chest. You should feel the breath filling your diaphragm which means that you are breathing deeply. This will help if you are feeling anxious.
• Progressive muscle relaxation.
Starting at your toes, tense all the muscles as
tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up from your feet to the top of your head. As you tense your muscles breathe in. Hold the breath and the muscle tension. Release the muscle tension and expel as much breath as possible through your mouth.
• Visualizing a peaceful, restful place.
Close your eyes and imagine a place or
activity that is calming and peaceful for you. Concentrate on how relaxed this place or activity makes you feel.
What about medical or natural remedy assistance to help you get to sleep?
If you think that you need medical intervention to help you sleep see your doctor. As
sleeping tablets become addictive, you should use them only as a short term stop
gap. Remember that you can’t mix sleeping tablets with alcohol. Talk to your local
pharmacy, natural health store or a naturopath about non prescription and natural
sleep assistance. Many people find lavender based gels or creams helpful, or put
lavender drops on their pillow. You may also find a relaxation CD works for you. Getting back to sleep after waking up
Ways of getting to sleep if you are having trouble or getting back to sleep when you
wake in the night. If you do not fall asleep within about 30 minutes after turning out
the light, get up, go to another room, and do something that is not too arousing (for
example, read a magazine, listen to some gentle music, do some ironing). Stay up
as long as you wish, and then return to your bedroom to sleep. The goal is to
associate your bed with falling asleep. It’s normal to wake briefly during the night. In
fact, a good sleeper won’t even remember it.
But if you’re waking up during the night and having trouble falling back asleep, the
following tips may help: Stay relaxed.
The key to getting back to sleep is continuing to cue your body for
sleep. Some relaxation techniques, such as visualisation and meditation, can be
done without even getting out of bed. The time–honoured technique of “counting
sheep” works by engaging the brain in a repetitive, non–stimulating activity, which
helps to calm the body. Do a quiet, non–stimulating activity.
If you’ve been awake for more than 15 minutes,
try getting out of bed and doing a quiet activity. Keep the lights dim so as not to cue
your body clock that it’s time to wake up. A light snack or herbal tea might help relax
you, but be careful not to eat so much that your body begins to expect a meal at that
time of the day.
Don’t stress about it.
Hard as it may be, try not to stress over an inability to fall
asleep again, because that very stress and anxiety encourages your body to stay
awake. Remind yourself that although it’s not a replacement for sleep, rest and
relaxation still can help rejuvenate your body Concentrate on relaxation, not sleep. Don’t look at the clock.
If looking at a bedroom clock makes you anxious about how
much time you have before you must get up, move the clock out of sight. Write things down.
Keep a pad and pen or pencil beside your bed. If you are thinking
of things you have to do the next day, write them down on the pad. Your mind will
know that it will have this as are reminder and will stop trying to remember the things
on the list. Get stress and anxiety in check.
Stress and worry, or issues that have arisen during
the day can make it very difficult to sleep well: Learn how to manage your thoughts.
It helps if you can learn to stop yourself from
worrying, especially about things outside your control. For example, you can learn to
evaluate your worries to see if they’re truly realistic and learn to replace irrational
fears with more productive thoughts. Set aside an earlier time to do your worrying.
Most of the thinking and worrying that
we do in bed needs to be done – it just does not need to be done in bed. Therefore,
make sure that you devote some time earlier in the day (for example, 5 to 15
minutes) for thinking and worrying. This should end at least a couple of hours before
you go to bed. Then, when the thoughts come when you are in bed, say to yourself
gently: “Stop, I thought about this today. I will think about it again tomorrow. Now is
the time to sleep.” This will not work every time, but even if it only works half the
time, that is a lot better than not at all. Learn some stress management techniques
If the stress of managing work, family,
or school is keeping you awake, learning how to manage your time effectively,
handle stress in a productive way, and maintain a calm, positive outlook, will help
you to sleep better. Learning to live with the aftershocks.
If when you read this the aftershocks are continuing and you having difficulty coping
with them, here are some tips to help you how you think about them:
• Revise and think about your safety plan, emergency kit and all the things you
have done to ensure your safety and that of your family and friends.
• Continue to talk to your neighbours and plan how you will respond if your
• Think about how you would like to respond to the next after shake and
visualise this. Practice being calm on the outside, it will help you be calm on the inside, use your breathing and relaxation techniques.
• Talk to yourself. Tell yourself that you can cope with these. You “managed”
the big one in February, this last one and all the others to date, you have a safety plan.
• Don't tell yourself that you're silly or any other derogatory term. If you wouldn't
say it to a friend of yours, or one of your children, then don't say it to yourself!
• Get angry. When you are angry, you are not scared. Get angry with the
earthquake and tell yourself that you are taking back control of your life from the earthquake. You are in charge of your life not the earthquake. Sometimes exercise can also help relax the body and the mind
• And finally, remind yourself that you are a legend, for managing 2900+
aftershocks and you have the skills and experience to do this and help others to get through.
Source: Tips for getting a good nights sleep. http://www.stratos-ltd.co.nz
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