1. Relax before bed
Take some time for quiet rest or short meditation before bed. Deep breathing or a warm aromatic bath can help to soothe and de-stress. Warm milk and herbal teas can also help us to relax (just not too soon before bed or you may have to get up during the night to use the bathroom).
2. Regular exercise
It’s good for everything about you, not the least of which is sleep. Exercise affects your metabolism and keeps all systems in your body working properly. We weren’t meant to sit still.
3. Put away electronics
We’ve become so attached to our smart phones, tablets, and computers that they are often the first thing we look at in the morning and the last at night. Avoid this.
Try shutting everything down (or not looking) at least two hours before going to sleep. Many studies have shown that staring at radiant screens before bed negatively affects our sleep.
4. Cut down (or out) alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes
Alcohol is a depressant and may make you feel sleepy but having it your system when you go to sleep can interfere with deep-level sleep.
Caffeine, too, is a big no-no: if it perks you up in the morning…studies have shown that caffeine taken within 6 hours of bedtime can affect your sleep. Cigarettes, well, there’s nothing good about them; if you smoke, you can only help yourself by quitting.
5. Optimize your bedroom for sleep
Darken the windows, get a new pillow, adjust the temperature, wear earplugs–whatever makes you the most comfortable and least likely to interrupt your sleep.
6. Dream-state sleep
The second type of sleep disorder that can occur is REM (rapid eye movement) behavior disorder, or RBD. In the active dream state, some people act out their dreams but don’t consciously know what they’re doing. A story from Dr. Verma illustrates:
“A father was arrested when he dreamt his house was on fire and he ‘saved’ his newborn baby by throwing him out the window to firefighters below to catch. Trouble was, there was no fire, no firefighters, but he did throw the baby out the window (The baby was ok).”
If you or someone in your home suffers from a sleep disorder, there are methods you can employ to handle the episodes.
Don’t wake a sleepwalker–because the actions occur unconsciously, sudden awakening can lead to terror and/or aggression. Gently guide the person back to bed, speaking softly and soothingly.
A sleep driver should be urged to pull over, the driver removed safely from the car, and the keys hidden.
If you are the sufferer, place locks and/or alarms on the windows and doors, hide keys and sharp objects, and sleep on the floor to prevent injury.
There are circumstances under which a professional should be consulted: if conditions persist and all natural efforts to control them fail, dangerous or aggressive behavior manifests, or you are chronically exhausted.
The nature of sleep is still somewhat of a mystery. What we do know–unequivocally–is that good quality sleep is crucial to your health.