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Secrets to Sound Sleep
by Susie Michelle Cortright
Moms of infants lose 400 to 750 hours of sleep each year, according to a report published in Parents magazine.

No matter how old our children, we moms often see the wee hours as the most flexible time of day. During the day, we know weíll be busy nursing the baby or driving the kids to soccer practice. That leaves late night and early morning to catch up on all those things we didnít have time for the day before.

But sleep is important to our entire well-being. A goodís night sleep restores and rejuvenates usómind, body, and soul.

Everyone has different sleep requirements. Most of us need 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function at an optimum level. A simple test: if you feel drowsy during the day, you probably arenít getting enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation can lead to a loss of strength, a compromised immune system, and high blood pressure, as well as a decrease in concentration, memory, and learning ability. Perhaps most noticeably, sleep loss can result in a downright rotten mood, and the inability to cope with those small pressures and stresses you confront each day.

Tips for more restful sleep...

During the day
A regular exercise routine will help you fall asleep faster and wake up more refreshed, but experts do not recommend vigorous exercise fewer than three hours before bedtime.

Instead, schedule your workout five to six hours before lights out. Why? Exercise causes your core body temperature to rise. Experts say natural sleepiness will set in when your body temperature drops again.

Find another place for stressful activities. Pay your bills at the kitchen table, not in your bedroom.

Avoid nicotine and alcohol before bed. Nicotine is a potent stimulant, and the metabolism of alcohol has an alerting effect.

Skip the afternoon latte, as well, since the stimulating effect of caffeine can remain for as long as 12 hours. Keep in mind that many teas and sodas, such as Mountain Dew and orange soda, contain high caffeine levels, as well.

Restrict your water intake just before bed and during the night. Midnight trips to the bathroom can cut into your sleep, particularly if you have a hard time dozing off again.

Six hours of continuous sleep often result in a more rested feeling than eight hours of on-again, off-again snoozing, since non-consecutive sleep interrupts its deep, restorative phases.

Check to see if any of your prescription or over-the-counter medications might be interfering with your sleep. Some birth control pills, diet pills, blood pressure pills, and anti-depressants can have a rousing effect. Sleeping pills, while they may be tempting, are not the answer. They lose their effectiveness quickly and can be addictive.

At night

Create a nest. Eliminate clutter, maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature, and keep the room dark. Nightlights and bright moonlight can interfere with quality sleep. Install window treatments that block light, such as wooden Venetian blinds or shades with blackout lining.

Practice aromatherapy. (for more information, see Momscape's ďMaking Scents of Aromatherapy. Lavender oil or a lavender sachet on your bedside table can help you feel relaxed and sleepy.

Keep your bedtime routine consistent. Many people treat themselves to a high-carbohydrate snack 30 to 45 minutes before bed. Then engage only in relaxing activities.

No bedside table should be without Sarah Ban Breathnachís Simple Abundance, which features a new affirming and empowering essay for every day of the year. Simple Abundance is an enriching element of any bedtime routine.

If you canít leave your worries at the bedroom door, make a ritual of asking yourself a question just before bed. Give your subconscious a problem to solve during the hours you spend sleeping. Youíll be surprised how often youíll wake up with the solution after a good nightís sleep.

Still can't fall asleep?

Just do it. Orgasms increase endorphins, which can help you feel into a deep sleep.

If your mate is causing you to lose sleep, get help. Consult a doctor about a chronic snoring problem. Invest in a good mattress so you wonít move each time he does.

If you havenít fallen asleep within 30 minutes, there is a problem. Lying in bed and staring at the ceiling will only increase your anxiety. Get out of bed. Do something relaxing, such as deep breathing or meditative exercises. Then try again later.

Copyright Susie Michelle Cortright

Susie Michelle Cortright is the founder and publisher of Momscape, an online magazine devoted to nurturing the nurturers. Visit her at http://www.momscape.com to escape in inspiring articles and essays, subscribe to Momscape's free email newsletters, and register to win free pampering packages.

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