- Exercise on a regular basis (although not within two to three hours of your normal bedtime).
- Keep in mind that sleep problems can be a side effect of some medications prescribed for colds, allergies, high blood pressure, pain, asthma, heart disease, and depression.
- Ask your doctor to check your thyroid with a blood test that measures thyroid stimulating hormone. More than 10 million American women have undiagnosed thyroid disease, an endocrine disorder that can disturb sleep.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Individual reactions to these substances can vary. Caffeine can affect sleep even when it’s consumed as early as 10 to 12 hours before bedtime.
- Practice good sleep hygiene: Keep your bedroom dark, keep it cool, use it only for sleep and sex, stick to a regular sleep schedule, and avoid heavy meals in the evening. These common sense basics can help preserve both the quantity and quality of your sleep as you get older.
- If stress keeps you awake, experiment with relaxation techniques such as meditation, visualizing, and deep breathing. Or try body scan, an exercise to note the tension in each part of your body and consciously let it go. It can sometimes be hard to relax tense muscles after an active day, and the body scan technique helps you let go of tension one muscle group at a time.
Originally published in MORE magazine, October 2008.
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