“Sweet dreams are made of this . . . everybody’s looking for something.”  Remember the 80’s song by the Eurhythmics?  If you have “searched the seven seas” for the answer to a good night’s sleep then read on for some simple solutions that could improve your overall wellness.

Are you among the overwhelming 62% of American adults who suffer from difficulties related to sleep?  Even more alarming is the fact that sleep loss issues currently cost U.S. employers more than $18 billion in lost productivity.

If you can identify with one or more of the difficulties below, then it’s time to learn how to fall asleep well and stay asleep (7-8 hours recommended for adults):

  • I have problems falling asleep at night because I just don’t feel tired.
  • I wake up soon after I have fallen asleep and then I can’t get back to sleep.
  • I wake up early in the morning long before I want to get up and I just can’t get back to sleep.
  • I snore so loudly that it disrupts my sleep and/or the sleep of those around me.
  • I frequently have nightmares or horrible dreams.
  • I sleepwalk.
  • I don’t feel well rested in the morning even if I have gone to bed early and slept at least nine hours.
  • I have trouble staying awake during the day.

Strategies to help you fall asleep and stay asleep really come down to four things:

  1. Environment
  2. Diet
  3. Exercise
  4. Preparation for sleep

Your sleeping environment has to do with the lighting, sounds, temperature, and your sleeping surface. These are easy things to change, and will result in a much more restful night’s sleep. Simple tasks like getting rid of flashing lights from electronics such as DVD players or electronic clocks and stopping any wakeful activity done in the bed, like reading or watching TV.  Such wakeful activities can actually trick the body and mind into associating the bed with other things that keep you awake.

Many problems associated with falling asleep can be traced back to food or other chemical intake that occurs within two to three hours before the attempt to fall asleep.  One should avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, and foods high in carbohydrates or simple sugars.

Exercise can both help and hinder the sleep process.  When engaged in at least several hours prior to the Hour of Sleep (HOS) exercise makes a person feel tired and sleepy, and can aid to the sensation of a good night’s rest.  However, if engaged in too close to the HOS, exercise can also have the effect of heightening a person’s wakefulness- making it more difficult for them to fall asleep.

Preparation for sleep is perhaps the most important strategy.  Healthy preparation includes: scheduling, relaxing bed time rituals, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, self-hypnosis, and cognitive self-therapy.

Solutions to Sleep Wellness is a three session, (six-hour) course that will guide you through the process of keeping and analyzing a sleep journal, strategies for waking up, and developing your personal plan for sleep hygiene. For a full schedule of our Wellness classes, go to www.solutionsandme.com/wellness-classes/class-calendar/ and check out all of our upcoming classes. You can also call 970.249.4449 to inquire about the next sessions.