Expert Sleep Tips
Having trouble sleeping? We asked an expert for advice.
Dr. Andrew Parker, Chief of ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) at Norwalk Hospital recommends the following solutions to your sleep woes.
“I am certainly familiar with patients that have sleep problems,” says Dr. Parker. When the problems include stress, I usually advise a few behavioral changes that frequently help.”
- About an hour before you plan on going to sleep, begin "shutting down" your mind. This means UNPLUG all electronic devices that provide stimulation. Turn off the television, shut off the laptop, do not check email, post to Facebook, or even talk on the phone. By decreasing stimulation to your brain, you will send it a signal that it is time to relax.
- Only use your bed for sleeping. When you use your bed for watching television, doing work, talking on the phone, or any daytime activities, you are sending mixed signals to your brain. Condition your brain to expect that when you get into your comfortable bed, sleep is the expected activity. Very Pavlovian!
- Keep your mobile phone out of the bedroom completely. This is crucial for two reasons: First, lying in the dark with the bright glow of the screen in your face as you use your smartphone is very stimulating, and can make your brain think it is daylight. When you finally try to fall asleep, it can be very tough. Secondly, it is extremely tempting to quickly check to see of you have any interesting email. Once you pick up your phone, one thing leads to another, and before you know it, an hour has passed and now you cannot get back to sleep. Keep the phone off and as far from your bedroom as possible. If someone needs you for an emergency, they can call your home phone.
- If you cannot fall asleep because there are so many things on your mind stressing you out, keep a pen and pad by your bed and write a list of "Things I Will Take Care of Tomorrow.” This way you can feel better about organizing them, and put them aside, allowing you to clear your mind and fall asleep.
- Meditation, including focused breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, have helped many of my patients clear their thoughts and get the sleep they need.