40 million people in the U.S. suffer from sleep problems every year, according to the FDA. The 2007 Sleep in America Poll determined that two-thirds of women surveyed experienced difficulty with sleep at least a few nights a week during the last month.

Stress is one of the major causes of problems with sleep. Busy days with too much to think about, economic pressure, family concerns, worries . . . it’s too easy to be wide awake at night –- and find yourself worn out the following day. Note: if you are experiencing relentless problems with sleeping, be sure to seek advice from your doctor.

Deep Relaxation may be extremely helpful with sleep problems, decreasing your stress, allowing your body and mind to stop being on "red alert".

Parents of young children know that bedtime rituals assist their children in getting to sleep, and sleep soundly throughout the night. Did you know it’s helpful for adults as well? Having a regular routine around bedtime where you get ready for restful sleep can greatly increase the odds that you will sleep well.

Relaxation is a very vital element in getting ready for good quality sleep. Deep Relaxation allows your body and mind to settle down from the day’s activities. It’s then much easier to go to sleep, remain asleep, and sleep deeply.

Many people discover that listening to a relaxation CD at bedtime assists them to attain a satisfying night’s sleep. Soothing words and calming music bring about for adults what a lullaby does for an infant! It’s a wonderful way to let go of the day’s concerns and drift off into restful sleep.

Be sure not to exercise or eat a heavy meal within four hours of bedtime. Research any medications you are taking to see if they could be interfering with your sleep.

Restorative yoga or meditation before bedtime can help your body relax, and calm your mind. If you have tight muscles, listening to a relaxation CD or doing progressive muscle relaxation can help you release tension.

Avoid caffeine (coffee, caffeinated soft drinks, chocolate) or other stimulants late in the day; alcohol and nicotine can also interfere with sleep.

If you have involuntary leg movements during the night you may be suffering Restless Leg Syndrome. This may perhaps be the result of a folic acid deficiency, so try taking a dietary supplement containing folic acid. Gentle stretching of the legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves) may help as well.

If your sleep problems persist, confer with a sleep specialist. Often they will order a sleep study, where you sleep a night at their office while connected to monitors to help with evaluation. Sleep apnea (intermittent gaps in breath) is a widespread finding, and there are excellent treatments which work well for this.

Approach your sleep regimen with a plan. Give yourself time to experiment and try different things. It may be helpful to maintain a sleep journal, where you note in brief the day's events. Helpful things to include in the journal are: your state of mind upon going to bed; when you ate or exercised; caffeine, nicotine and alcohol consumed; relaxation or meditation or other practices done before bedtime; and, finally, how you slept that night.

Sweet Dreams!

Author's Bio: 

Sandi Anders, M.Div., R.Y.T. www.SandiAnders.com is a yoga and meditation teacher and life coach in Nashville, TN. Her relaxation CD The Alchemy of Peace and Love www.imagery4relaxation.com
combines a gentle and effective relaxation meditation with a powerful guided imagery experience to boost self-esteem. She recommends Stress Management and Relaxation resources at www.Books4SelfHelp.com/stress-management.htm.