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Getting some zzz’s. Get your sleep on track

June 3, 2009

Sleeping is an involuntary, biologically based necessity, which responds to many things including the outside world. Our bodies’ get tired naturally at night and become more alert in daylight, but other environmental factors can influence your cycle. If your lifestyle has taken this cycle off course then the best approach is to reset your cycle with structure.

Here are some quick tips to help you sleep more soundly:

1. Don’t do anything else in bed, but sleep. Use reading or T.V. watching as a way to help you fall asleep, but if you find yourself making your way through chapters or the late night movie then do those activities out of bed.

2. Don’t hang out in bed in the mornings. Jump out of bed in the morning. Even on the weekends – This way your body will get used to waking up right away and associate the bed with only sleepy moments. Again avoid reading the Times on Sunday mornings in bed, since your body will come to associate the bed with feeling relaxed but not necessarily sleeping.

3. Count Sheep! Or invest in the modern day version. Get a white noise machine and FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION SOLELY on that sound. If you find yourself getting distracted, then challenge your attention. This activity alone will tire out your brain and help you to fall asleep.

4. Slow down your breathing and allow your stomach to expand when you inhale and relax when you exhale. (See my post in breathing on specific instruction). Diaphragmatic breathing done in this manner and at the rate of approximately 5-6 breaths a minute is not only associated with positive health benefits also induces sleep.

5. Invest a little time and money. If you have trouble falling asleep, due to anxiety then think about taking your breathing training a bit further. Invest in a biofeedback device or see a behavior specialist.

Commit to 15 minutes of proper breathing training daily during the day. This will calm your nervous system and teach your body a new way to respond to stress and help you to fall asleep faster in addition to releasing you from anxiety.


6. Change your priorities! Make sleep a priority. Schedule your bedtime and commit to it. If you don’t fall asleep on time, DON’T allow yourself extra time in the morning to make up for it. The idea is to create a consistent bedtime so that your body learns to respond to your new cycle and not let the cycle lead your body.

7. Experiment to see where you benefit. If you sleep 6 hours now, try 7 and see how you feel. If you sleep 7, try 8 hours a night for 2 weeks and see what happens. There are plenty of reasons to honor your sleep, see where you feel you benefit most.
Track your mood, energy level, weight, skin appearance, etc for 2 week to assess the immediate benefits.

8. Create a sleep zone with lavender oils. The tone of the room should emulate a place of rest and rejuvenation. Use lavender oils or scented pillows to elicit other pathways to the sleep response. Smell is a very primitive response, thus we respond to it without much thought. Take advantage of that!

9. Workout the 1st thing in the am. I know most people hate this idea or think it’s impossible, but it will change your energy level throughout the day and help you fall asleep faster at night. Plus if you workout in the am you can be sure that your lifestyle won’t get in the way of your daily routine.

10. Challenge your self to stay awake. –if you really cannot fall asleep go with the paradoxical approach-try to stay awake and active. Challenge yourself to read a full chapter in a novel. Don’t take naps the next day if you are tired. Eventually your body will give in to the rhythm!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Charles Romo permalink
    June 5, 2009 11:21 am

    Hi Jayme,

    I appreciate your article about sleep. I am currently undergoing treatment for HEP and the drugs for are now taking a toll on my body and mind. I feel like I am about to die! I am having trouble sleeping because I find myself afraid to close my eyes. I am also dealing with this alone. My family are in Texas and I am in NYC. I have so much demands from different people that I have a responsibility to including my doctors. I find myself reactive, emotional, and I feel like no understands what I am going through. My treatment is equivalent to chemo. I feel like I am losing control of myself. Do you have any other articles that you may recommend for me. I desperately need help. I am currently trying to find a psychologist/counselor that accepts medicare and medicaid. I am also trying to find the right support group. Maybe you have some recommendations for me. By the way, I am following you on facebook and twitter. Thank you! Charles

    • June 5, 2009 11:34 am

      Thanks for your note.
      understand how hard it must be to be going through something like this esp without the support of your family. I am wondering your doctors could put in you contact with support group, just to help you fill some of that void. In addition I would suggest trying to mediate and/or breath with your eyes closed during the day, to help you challenge your fear and work on maintaining/resuming your inner balance. Another option is to do some progressive muscle relaxation with your eyes opened (at first ), to help you warm up to closing your eyes. There are 2 articles on Mediation and Breathing on the blog that might help. I will look thru my contacts to see if I know anyone for a good referral since I don’t accept those insurances.
      Dr Jayme

  2. Dr Norm Blumenstock permalink
    June 9, 2009 1:43 am

    Hi Jayme,
    I have been practicing Dental Sleep Medicine for the past 20 years here in NJ.
    As an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Medicine, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School I have had observed the different approaches to your insomina. One of my close friends, a behavior psychologist and certified sleep expert has handled your type of problem. She is now of the opinion that a new advanced technique that I use can open your airway and reduce your adrenalin.
    Jayme is correct in that you need to breath. The way we do this is by fabricating a clear custom dental orthotic to correct this impaired oral function. Generally we find that the problem is your tongue. It probably is interfering with your breathing. We test this hypothesis by attaching a pulse oximeter. If I am correct, the pulse will go down and your oxygen saturation will go up within minutes of this specialized oral device. I also use a heart rate variability monitor (HRV) to confirm the decrease of adrenalin. I would not be surprised if you have feelings of impending doom, on edge feelings, tightness of your chest, head forward posture and night time snoring. I don’t treat psychological problems. I just balance impaired oral function ( speaking swallowing and breathing) since I am a dentist and I can’t help if other issues get better. The technique was developed by Dr Farrand Robson in Tacoma and is called Oral Systemic Balance.
    The evidence based research is being conducted right now will be published in the next 12 months by some of my medical colleagues. Breathing will reduce the adrenalin. Its a good thing. Yoga type breathing is another example. Good luck and let me know if there is anything more I can do for you.
    Dr Norm

  3. June 16, 2009 5:27 am

    I have been looking looking around for this kind of information. Will you post some more in future? I’ll be grateful if you will.

  4. September 16, 2009 7:25 am

    I read your whole article and I loved your article. Yoga and Meditation may be an effective in the treatment of insomnia. And I have some good yoga tips at http://www.jiyohealthy.com/category/stress/ which will help u. Yoga today is very important in people’s life. It keeps people healthy.

    • September 17, 2009 3:19 pm

      Thanks for your comments. Yes I am a firm believer in the principals of yoga and I myself practice several times a week. I think its helps stimulate the brain and body simultaneously in ways that fight off the effects of stress, build concentration, balance and flexibility not to mention the benefits for motivation due to increased energy and practice that encourages you to work toward your outer limits…”never fully comfortable in the poses..already striving to go a little deeper”

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