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Sleep Better: 8 Simple Steps

Ten to fifteen percent of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia. Do you?
Most of us experience an occasional sleepless night, but prolonged bouts
of insomnia can lead to decreased mental function, frazzled nerves, and
lowered immunity. The good news is that you don’t have to pop a pill
or count sheep: Just follow these simple, natural steps to get more Zs.

  • Exercise regularly, but don’t exercise within six
    hours of your bedtime. Physical activity speeds up your heart rate and
    metabolism, making it difficult to wind down at night. Try to schedule
    your workouts in the morning, so you can benefit from that extra energy
    during the day.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon. Caffeine is a stimulant found
    in coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate. Some people clear caffeine from
    their bodies slowly (you know who you are). These people should avoid
    caffeine completely.
  • Avoid alcohol. Many people find that alcohol helps them
    relax at night. Although it may help induce sleep initially, alcohol
    disrupts your normal sleep patterns, leaving you tired and groggy in
    the morning.
  • Keep regular sleeping hours. Your body likes routine
    and will respond better to a consistent bedtime.
  • Don’t work on the computer or watch television for
    at least one hour before going to bed. These activities stimulate your
    mind at a time when you should be preparing for rest.
  • Avoid eating large, late evening meals. Do eat a light
    snack a couple hours before retiring to avoid low blood sugar levels
    in the middle of the night, which can wake you up.
  • Decrease light in your bedroom. A dark environment is
    necessary for the production of melatonin, a hormone that encourages
    a healthy sleep cycle.
  • Try yoga or meditation to clear your mind and help prepare
    your body for sleep. Like regular sleeping hours, a steady practice will
    yield the greatest benefits.

In addition, if your insomnia is caused or made worse by aches and pains
at night, it may be time for a new mattress and/or pillow—and a visit
to your doctor of chiropractic. Your sleeping surface should support the
entire body— including the spine, neck, head, and limbs— evenly,
with no gaps. For recommendations tailored to your specific needs, talk
to your doctor of chiropractic. Chiropractic can also help promote better
sleep by correcting imbalances and tension in the body, so that you can
relax completely.