Tips for a good night's sleep

January 8, 2009 4:56:19 PM PST
More than 60 million Americans have trouble sleeping which can also mean lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, blurry vision, irritability and memory loss during the day. Dr. Mark Steinberg has some helpful tips for all of us to get a better night's rest.

Q. Why is something as basic as sleep such a problem for so many people?

A. Many factors can contribute to sleep problems; a basic underlying cause is the problem in managing self-regulation.

  • Self-regulation involves the brain and nervous system's ability to balance and regulate timing mechanisms that affect sleep-wake cycles, alertness and drowsiness, mood stability, metabolism, resistance to stressors, recovery from exertion, and cognitive functions (memory, concentration, problem-solving).

  • Self-regulation can turn into disregulation through injury, illness, prolonged stress, poor life-style habits, and situational trauma.

  • Genetic factors also influence sleep tendencies and self-regulation patterns.

    Other influences detract from sleep and functional self-regulation.

  • Reaction to toxins - dietary and environmental.

  • Environmental factors contribute to disruptive sleep: 24-hour entertainment, news, internet, and media exposure; multi-shift work schedules; time-zone travel and global communications; overstimulation; seasonal and weather changes; lack of physical comfort and suitable sleep environment.

  • Rebound from and dependence upon drugs and alcohol.

    Q. What are some key tips for getting a good night's sleep?

    A.Put your mind and body on a schedule.

  • Use the environment and the clock to condition yourself to go to bed and fall asleep. By developing a ritual of sleep-compatible activities at night, you can condition your body and mind to wind down and go to sleep.

  • You respond to work schedules, to travel schedules, even to TV schedules. You can train your body and mind to get used to sleep schedules.

  • Go to bed and get up around the same times each day.

  • Let the schedule help you self-regulate (e.g., you may be very tired if you can't fall asleep and then get up early; however, this will make you tired for the next night's sleep).

    Exercise your brain.

  • EEG neurofeedback is a great way to exercise your brain and teach it to self-regulate. This process facilitates the natural regulation of sleep-wake cycles through re-conditioning brainwaves.

  • Engage in problem-solving.

  • Read, especially in the evening. This trains your mind to withdraw into the quiet private space that is conducive to sleep.

    Exercise your body.

  • Exercise is one of nature's best stress relievers. It will make your body want sleep and sleep more restfully.

  • Even if you can't work out, do some exercise each day that push you - even if this means mild stretching or walking a few blocks.

    Use natural soporifics.

  • Some activities and substances induce relaxation and sleep. In general, formally end your responsibilities for the day by a regular time. This means no computer, child involvement, cleaning up, or whatever you normally do after a designated hour.

  • Read and/or pray and/or meditate in bed.

  • For some people, milk or certain teas or soup can be helpful.

  • Don't keep your stomach very empty or very full before you go to bed.

    Eliminate toxins.

  • For many people, foods, beverages, personal care items, supplements and, medicines are energy toxins that produce psychological and physical symptoms, including sleep problems.

  • We can identify these substances through the voice, using Voice Technology.

  • Abstaining from toxins usually helps sleep.

  • We can temporarily neutralize the effects of many toxins over the phone, using Voice Technology.

    Avoid or limit drugs and alcohol.

  • Drugs and alcohol invite dependency.

  • They often interfere with natural sleep and dream cycles, leaving you tired, even after sleep.

  • Drugs and alcohol upset self-regulation.

  • Withdrawal symptoms often include anxiety and insomnia, often perpetuating the sleep problem. These symptoms are often helped through schedules, Thought Field Therapy, and time.

    Forming the habit of good sleep

    Use the tips mentioned.
  • Regulate your brain.
  • Exercise your body.
  • Take control of diet.
  • Identify, eliminate, neutralize toxins.
  • Avoid or limit drugs and alcohol

    Use schedules to your advantage.
  • Plan your schedule and stick to it. Your body and mind will eventually follow.
  • Taper your physical and mental activities in the evening.
  • Have rituals that your mind will associate with sleep (teeth and skin care, bathing, etc.).
  • Avoid liquids at night.

    Make your environment sleep-friendly and comfortable.
  • Make your bedroom sleep-friendly. Keep it as dark as possible.This signals the primitive part of your brain that it is time to sleep. Keep sounds and even music to a minimum.
  • Invest in a good mattress and pillow.
  • Turn your phone off, so you cannot hear it.

    When you can't sleep...
  • Try again: Read and/or pray and/or meditate in bed.
  • Use Thought Field Therapy tapping techniques.
  • Journal in bed (use low light).
  • If necessary, get up and stretch gently.

    Seek professional help

    Discuss with your doctors.
  • Reporting on sleep habits should be a routine part of every exam.
  • Discuss side effects of meds.

    Differentially diagnose to rule out other disorders.
  • Sleep deprivation can mimic other disorders.
  • Other disorders can result in sleep problems.

    Treatment for psychological issues often helps.
  • Anxiety, fears, depression.
  • Short-term interventions like EEG neurofeedback and Thought Field Therapy are very effective.

    Consider a medical study and possible interventions.
  • Sleep apnea is common.
  • Bruxism can interfere.
  • Sleep appliances can be helpful or can cause problems.
  • Relaxation training, breathing techniques, and EEG neurofeedback can all help improve getting oxygen to the brain, even when sleeping.

    For more information about Dr. Mark Steinberg and his techniques visit: