Insomnia is often thought of as trouble falling asleep. One form of it, called sleep-maintenance insomnia, is difficulty staying asleep, or waking too early and struggling to get back to sleep. Difficulty staying asleep often gives rise to worry over not getting enough sleep, which further interferes with sleep, creating a vicious cycle. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to remedy sleep-maintenance insomnia, reports the July 2010 issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch.
Cognitive and behavioral techniques have proven effective in improving sleep. It’s especially important to develop habits that promote healthful sleep through a collection of practices called sleep hygiene. Harvard Women’s Health Watch offers tips for getting a better night's rest, including these:
Watch what you drink. Avoid caffeinated beverages after 1 or 2 p.m.—or altogether, if you’re especially sensitive to caffeine. Limit alcohol, and don’t drink any within two hours of bedtime. Alcohol interferes with deep sleep and can interfere with breathing.
Exercise. Getting regular aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, or swimming can help you fall asleep faster, get more deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.
Don’t watch the clock. Watching the sleepless minutes pass makes it harder to fall back to sleep in the wee hours. Turn the clock face so you can’t see it.
Improve your sleep efficiency. Keep track of your sleep patterns for a week or two. If you find that you’re spending less than 80% of your time in bed asleep, you may be spending too much time in bed. Try going to bed later, and don’t nap during the day. If you find yourself falling asleep too early in the evening, keep the lights bright.
It’s hard to get back to sleep if your mind is racing or your muscles are tense. To calm the mind and relax the muscles, try meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.
Read the full-length article: "Too early to get up, too late to get back to sleep"