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When to get out of bed if you can't sleep

10th September 2012

Sleep researchers in the United States have offered their advice to those who suffer from insomnia, which happens to everyone at some point, they say.

Sleeping

Not being able to fall asleep can happen because of stimulating, caffeinated drinks like coffee too late in the day, or stress and worries from the day making it hard to switch off and relax.

Previous research has shown that staying in bed, tossing and turning, is unlikely to help, say experts. However, they advise that anyone suffering from insomnia try to get back to sleep as soon as possible.

About 10 minutes lying in bed should be enough to establish that sleep is not going to come, at least for the time being.

According to Russell Rosenberg, chairman of the board of the US National Sleep Foundation, worrying about how long you have been trying to get to sleep for perpetuates the problem.

He said that putting clocks out of sight of the bed, and then guessing when 10 minutes has elapsed, is better than counting the minutes.

At this stage, getting up is better than lying in bed trying to fall asleep, which can have the opposite effect, making sleep still more elusive. Instead, Rosenberg recommends doing something fairly entertaining, but not too exciting, until sleepiness returns.

Once a person has got out of bed, they should leave their bedroom immediately, which will help to establish it as a place in which only sleeping occurs, according to Clete Kushida, medical director of the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine.

Reading, listening to soothing music, meditation and relaxation exercises can all help to ready the mind for slumber. However, stimulating entertainment like television or computer games should be avoided, as they make the mind too active.

However, anyone whose medications make them groggy at night should avoid getting out of bed, for safety reasons, as should people who have problems balancing.

Insomniacs should not try to get anything done, even if they feel wide awake, and should embrace inefficiency. Phones should be turned off, the Internet disconnected, and work should be forgotten.

Productivity of any kind is to be avoided, according to Rosenberg, who says that the feel-good factor of getting something useful done will reinforce the insomnia with positive feedback.

Tasks are also better done after a full night's sleep, when the mind is sharper.

Screens late at night play tricks on the brain, making it believe it is daytime, and that it needs to wake up.

He said everyone had a bad night's sleep from time to time, but that it was possible to reduce insomnia greatly by working on introducing sleep-friendly habits into one's daily routine.

Experts suggest maintaining a regular bedtime routine, including a relaxing last hour of the day. Bedrooms should be decorated in a restful manner with soothing colours and lighting, and used only for sleep or sex.

Any drinks containing caffeine or alcohol should be avoided just before bed.

If insomnia persists, a doctor should be consulted in case there are organic reasons behind the problem, or in case a referral to a sleep specialist is needed.


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MA Amin

Tuesday 11th September 2012 @ 2:06

"Dr. Kevin Williams dismisses the notion that problems only have a negative impact.



"Problems are opportunities for you to think differently," he told me during an interview. "Look at inventions; they derive from problems and the quest for solutions. The person who's trying to get past it is the one who will be innovative."


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