DIY Sleep Consultation

Sleep Consultation for:

Preliminary background:  Keep in mind that this consultation is usually conducted in person,  by an RSA (Registered Sleep Adviser) at the Mattress Outlet.   Please describe anything you’ve experienced in the last 3 months which have affected your sleep.  For example…..restlessness, waking up in the middle of the night, nightmares, etc.

# 1    How often do you eat or drink after dinner?  Times per week   How late?  After?

Suggestions:  Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Chemicals that Interfere with Sleep.   Caffeinated products decrease a person’s quality of sleep.

As any coffee lover knows, caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake. So avoid caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and some pain relievers) for four to six hours before bedtime. Similarly, smokers should refrain from using tobacco products too close to bedtime.

Although alcohol may help bring on sleep, after a few hours it acts as a stimulant, increasing the number of awakenings and generally decreasing the quality of sleep later in the night. It is therefore best to limit alcohol consumption to one to two drinks per day, or less, and to avoid drinking within three hours of bedtime.  Look to balance your overall fluid intake so that you are not thirsty in the morning……having a full bladder could cause you the need to urinate in the middle of the night, this robbing you  some of your restful continuous REM sleep.

#2   Regarding your sleep environment, describe your bedroom to me.

Suggestions:   A quiet, dark, and cool environment can help promote sound slumber. Why do you think bats congregate in caves for their daytime sleep? To achieve such an environment, lower the volume of outside noise with earplugs or a “white noise” appliance. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block light, a powerful cue that tells the brain that it’s time to wake up. Keep the temperature comfortably cool—between 60 and 75°F—and the room well ventilated. And make sure your bedroom is equipped with a comfortable mattress and pillows. (Remember that most mattresses wear out after ten years.)

Also, pets may wake you during the night, consider keeping them out of the BR
It may help to limit your bedroom activities to sleep and sex only. Keeping computers, TVs, and work materials out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.  The white light they emit also affects your sleep.

#3   On a typical night, describe your activities one hour prior to bedtime.

Suggestions:   Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine

Light reading before bed is a good way to prepare yourself for sleep.

Ease the transition from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities an hour or so before bed. Take a bath (the rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness), read a book, watch television, or practice relaxation exercises. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities—doing work, discussing emotional issues. Physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness. If you tend to take your problems to bed, try writing them down—and then putting them aside.

#4   Do you ever go to bed when you think you should even if you aren’t tired?

Suggestion:  Go to Sleep When You’re Truly Tired

Struggling to fall sleep just leads to frustration. If you’re not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something relaxing, like reading or listening to music until you are tired enough to sleep.

#5   Do you find yourself checking the clock often when trying to fall asleep or staying asleep?

Suggestion:  Don’t Be a Nighttime Clock-Watcher

Staring at a clock in your bedroom, either when you are trying to fall asleep or when you wake in the middle of the night, can actually increase stress, making it harder to fall asleep. Turn your clock’s face away from you.

And if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep in about 20 minutes, get up and engage in a quiet, restful activity such as reading or listening to music. And keep the lights dim; bright light can stimulate your internal clock. When your eyelids are drooping and you are ready to sleep, return to bed.

#6   How much sunlight do you get on an average day?  Hours?

Suggestion:  Use Light to Your Advantage

Natural light keeps your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle. The amount of light we get every day from the sun has a dramatic effect on your sleep. Make it a point to get outside for at least 30 minutes every day. First thing in the morning when the sun comes up get outside for a couple of minutes and let the sun hit your face. This will start your circadian rhythm.

#7  Do you have a “regular sleep schedule”?

Suggestion:  Keep Your Internal Clock Set with a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Having a regular sleep schedule helps to ensure better quality and consistent sleep.

Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover. Waking up at the same time each day is the very best way to set your clock, and even if you did not sleep well the night before, the extra sleep drive will help you consolidate sleep the following night. Learn more about the importance of synchronizing the clock in The Drive to Sleep and Our Internal Clock.

#8   Do you nap during the day?  When?

Suggestion:    Short naps before 5:00 PM are recommended, no later

Many people make naps a regular part of their day. However, for those who find falling asleep or staying asleep through the night problematic, afternoon napping may be one of the culprits. This is because late-day naps decrease sleep drive. If you must nap, it’s better to keep it short and before 5 p.m.

#9  Are you a late-night snacker?

Suggestion:  Lighten Up on Evening Meals and snacks.

Eating a pepperoni pizza at 10 p.m. may be a recipe for insomnia. Finish dinner several hours before bedtime and avoid foods that cause indigestion. If you get hungry at night, snack on foods that (in your experience) won’t disturb your sleep, perhaps dairy foods and carbohydrates.

#10  Do you exercise?   What time of the day?

Suggestion:  Exercise helps promote restful sleep if it is done several hours before you go to bed.

Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly—as long as it’s done at the right time. Exercise stimulates the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which helps activate the alerting mechanism in the brain. This is fine, unless you’re trying to fall asleep. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed or work out earlier in the day.  Outside exercise is best.

Other helpful tips:

  • Instead of staying up late to watch TV, tape the show or watch online. With things like Netflix, there is no reason to stay up late to watch a show.
  • As the day goes on, reduce the amount of time that you spend in from of a computer screen. The light from the screen tells the brain that you should be awake so reduce the amount of time in front of the screen.
  • When you go to bed don’t bring your computer or cell phone into bed with you. This will stimulate a response in your brain and will throw off your timing.
  • Take a warm shower or bath before bed. Also, if you add Epson salt to the water this will have a calming effect on your body due to the addition of magnesium.
  • Make the room as dark as possible.
  • Turn off as many electronics as possible near your bed. Light can penetrate our eyelids which reduces melatonin (Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland and controls the quality of your sleep).
  • Change the light on your computer. As the day goes on there are programs that can dim the screen to match the time of the day.
  • Make it a point to spend seven to eight hours in bed. If you have to wake up at 6 a.m., you need to be in bed by 10 p.m.
  • Eat your last big meal approximately three hours before you plan to go to sleep. Growth hormone is released in the evening and if your digestion has to work overtime this may affect the quality of your sleep.
  • As you get closer to bedtime start to dim the lights. Instead of leaving all of your lights on at 7 p.m. start to turn off certain lights and dim others.

-Aromatherapy:                                  Jasmine and Lavender work well.
-Homeopathic supplements:     Camomile, Melatonin, Valerian root
-Stress Reduction:                               Exercise, meditation, yoga
-Let your eyes embrace the darkness.  Try to turn off  TV, computers, tablets, phones…..anything with while light at least 30 mins before bedtime.  Yes, watching TV in bed WILL affect your sleep. Your mind sees it long after the TV is off.  If you fall asleep with the TV on you are highly unlikely to get a restful sleep.

The picture to the left is a sleep position often recommended by physical therapists and other health professionals. It’s simply this—when you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees. You won’t believe how instantly comfortable it is to feel the backs of your knees sink into softness. The position is good for your whole body because it also helps to align your back and neck. When you sleep on your side, slip the pillow between your legs to support your hips.

Some of these tips will be easier to include in your daily and nightly routine than others. However, if you stick with them, your chances of achieving restful sleep will improve. That said, not all sleep problems are so easily treated and could signify the presence of a sleep disorder such as apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, or another clinical sleep problem. If your sleep difficulties don’t improve through good sleep hygiene, you may want to consult your physician or a sleep specialist.

Military Sleep Tip

Military-Tested Trick to Fall Asleep Anywhere, Anytime
by Unknown Author - 02/11/2019

Often times during active duty there are explosions going off and bullets flying through the air. With all that happening, how are military members supposed to fall asleep? The trick involves both physical and metal relaxation.

First, for physical relaxation, you sit up straight, close your eyes, and let your head droop so your chin rests on your chest. Next, practice slow, regular breathing. Relax the muscles in your face (un-furrow your brow, loosen your tongue and lips, let your jaw slacken).

Continue this pattern down your body. Relax your shoulders and arms, and keep your breathing slow and regular. Once entirely relaxed, focus only on breathing. Next is mental relaxation. The key is imagining yourself in an incredibly relaxing situation. Do this by picturing yourself in places such as the bottom of a warm canoe looking up at a blue sky or in a cozy hammock made of black velvet. If that doesn’t work, lie back and repeat the following phrase in your mind: "Don't think, don't think, don't think."

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