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10 Ways to get a Good Night's Sleep
by Linda Dessau

Sleep – are you getting enough? For some people, enough is four to six hours. Other people just don't feel right with less than eight hours. People need more or less sleep at different phases in their life. Women may need more or less sleep at different phases of the month.

The simplest way to tell if you're getting enough is by noticing every morning - do you feel rested? Do you wake up without an alarm clock and feel ready to get right out of bed and start your day?

Not getting enough sleep is one of the most direct ways that we self-sabotage our success and well-being. When we are better rested we not only feel better, but are calmer, smarter, more rational, nicer to be around and we look better. Why wouldn't we choose to have that every day??

1. Set the stage

Turn off the computer and television at least one hour before you'd like to fall asleep, and turn on some music that you find relaxing. Test what your stereo system will do when the recording is finished – does it SNAP! or does it “wrrrr” – this will make a difference as you’re drifting off. My CD player makes a very soft "wrrrr" noise (though I honestly can't remember the last time I was still awake when the CD was over).

2. Music without words

Words can provoke and direct your thoughts more than instrumental music or pure vocal sounds.

3. Music with natural "breaths"

Music where the soloist takes natural pauses to breathe can help you to slow down your own breath - try flute, other wind instruments or voice (either with no words or words in a language you don't understand).

4. A good book

For bedtime reading, try to stay away from material that gets you thinking about things you deal with during the day. Magazines or stories that distract you from your own life may help you to drift into sleep.

5. Imagery

If you find that your mind is racing when you are trying to sleep, picture a viewpoint where you're traveling down a road. See your thoughts as signposts that you're passing. Concentrate on letting them pass right by.

6. Progressive muscle relaxation

Imagine that a ball of light is traveling along your body, beginning at the top of your head, going down to the tips of your toes, and then coming up again. As it passes your muscles, they fill with light and relax.

7. Take a nap

If your sleep has been interrupted or there've been unavoidable late nights, an afternoon nap can help you catch up. Experts advise that naps should be taken earlier in the afternoon, rather than later, and that we should keep them to 30 minutes or less. This will avoid disrupting your sleep at night.

8. Lavender Bath

Take a hot bath and add a couple of drops of lavender oil. Lavender has naturally occurring relaxing properties. Use a lavender filled eye pillow

9. Chamomile Tea

Calms the nervous system and helps to promote restful sleep.

10. Calcium/Magnesium

Take 500 mg Calcium with 250 mg Magnesium at bedtime – The calcium has a calming effect, and the magnesium works along with it.

The advice and information in this article is not meant to replace medical advice. If you suspect you have a serious sleeping problem such as sleep apnea, or if you experience insomnia or extreme fatigue, please consult a healthcare professional.Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach, is the author of “The Everyday Self-Care Workbook”.

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