As reported by WFRV-TV, Green Bay, December 1, 2009.

Changing Sleep "Hygiene" Can Reduce Insomnia

If the seven to eight hours of recommended sleep per night is just a dream, you may need to practice good sleep hygiene. There may be a couple of reasons you're waking up, or not falling asleep.

It could be biological, like the woman you're about to meet. But more likely it's something you've learned. And that means making some changes to feel well-rested.

Jyce Kutick-Craig could never fall asleep at night, or wake up in the morning, "Being a kid in elementary school and, having your mother throw cold water on you to wake you up isn't a pleasant thing."

After a few exhausting decades, Joyce got help, and found out she was born with an altered biological clock. "Because those people who never slept well, something is probably different about their wiring. A lot of times pharmacology is the only way to deal with that. But they're a minority," says sleep expert Dr. Daniel McNally.

He says most people have restful sleep - until it's disrupted, "The pain in their knee, the job they lost 'til they got another one, whatever it was -- it got them started not sleeping, and they sort of learned not to sleep."

Then our rhythms get out of whack, or we get used to waking up at night. "Well, I can't sleep. I'll go downstairs. I'll have something to eat. You know, that becomes almost a reward for getting up," says Dr. McNally.

But we can re-train our brains. First, make sure the bedroom is relaxing, dark, and comfortably cool - body temperature drops as we fall asleep. If you wake and can't get back to sleep, get up. But don't get too busy. Dr. McNally has an example, "Reading a book you've read three times before is sort of the idea."

And like Joyce, some people may benefit from medications, "Now I'm hopeful that at some point, working with Dr. McNally, I'll find a solution to this."

Many times the adaptations we make when we're sleep deprived, like naps or a glass of wine before bed, actually further disrupt the sleep cycle. Even sleeping in just an hour later on the weekends can make you groggy on Monday morning.