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Leave That Holiday 'To Do' List in a Drawer

Make fall chores notes early at night, then get the rest you need, sleep expert advises

MONDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Labor Day marks the end of the U.S. summer holiday season and the resumption of hectic work and home routines that can cut into sleep time.

Even if people manage to get to bed at a decent hour, they may lie awake thinking about their "to do" list for the next day, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Don't take your mental "to do" list with you when you go to bed, advises Ralph Downey, chief of sleep medicine at the Sleep Disorders Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California.

"If you are a 'to do' list maker, one thing to do is leave your list in a drawer in your desk. Make your 'to do' list early in the evening. Put your completed list in a drawer and close it. This gives you a sense of closure -- the 'to do' list is done," Downey said in a prepared statement.

If you still find your mind churning about things that need to be done, take steps to calm it.

"Just like clear eyesight is 20/20, we can help to clear our mind by using the 20/20 method for sleep," Downey said.

He added, "The method is simple: If you lie in bed for about 20 minutes, but haven't fallen asleep yet, get out of bed. Create a 'safe room.' Your safe room should be a comfortable haven. It should have dim lighting and not have any distractions like a computer, Internet or TV. You give your brain a time-out from the tension of trying to relax into sleep. Once about 20 minutes has passed, go back to bed and try to fall back asleep. Repeat as necessary. I don't recommend more than two to three times per night, because it becomes exhausting."

Simply lying in bed trying to force yourself to sleep doesn't work, Downey said.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation offers tips for getting a good night's sleep.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, August 2007

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