How to have a good night’s sleep

Studies show that having a good evening laugh (perhaps by watching the movie “Bridesmaids” or an episode of “The Big Bang Theory”) before you go to bed improves your sleep by making the brain release more of the sleep hormone, melatonin.

You don’t have time for a movie and it’s time for bed? You could do a few gentle exercises to release the day’s stress in a way that mimics the movements you make when you laugh.

During laughing exercises, you breathe like you do when you laugh. As it turns out, by just mimicking the breathing motions of laughter, you can relieve stress and improve your circulation, digestion and sleep.

Steps of the laughing exercise:

1. Put your hands in front of your chest

2. Place your palms together with your fingers pointing outward from your heart

3. Stretch out your arms, pushing the palms’ points to the wall.

4. Now bring your palms back and gently stretch again, but as you push your palms forward, breathe out deeply and make a deep-at-the-belly­-sounding, “Ho!” (Think Santa Clause.)

5. Repeat two more times for a total of three times.

6. Finally, bring your hands apart and clap together three times saying, “Ha!” each time.

Now, turn to your sweetie and notice that they’re looking at you and laughing, and then ask for a big “thank you!” for helping THEM fall asleep!

You could amuse the whole family and do this next one, as well…

Laughing/stretch exercise

1. Bring your torso up and stretch it out; gently continue stretching your shoulders up.

2. Now gently stretch and elongate your head, neck and shoulders upward.

3. Slowly stretch backward so your neck is pointing at the wall and your chin is pointing at the ceiling.

4. Finally, breathe in slowly and “huff!” out your breath.

Smartphone Ruining Your Sleep?

Have you ever wondered why you couldn’t go to sleep at night? Have you ever picked up your cell phone late at night to send just one more text?

Latest research shows us that sending text messages and surfing the Web within two hours of going to sleep boosts your stress levels more than any other pre-sleep activity. More than watching TV, sending emails or even making love! Researchers suspect that late-night texts or Internet searches ignite alert centers in the brain that interfere with deep sleep. In my book SNAP, in the chapter on text impressions, I discuss how those quick, shallow decisions of texting and surfing actually extend and deepen pathways to the EGAN centers of the brain, igniting stress hormones. So, read a book late at night and send that text tomorrow.

Tension Headaches

If tension headaches are keeping you from sleeping, there are options. Researchers say that people with chronic tension headaches who took 3 mg. of melatonin daily for three months reported six fewer episodes a month and the headaches they did get were less painful due to the sleep-inducing supplement. Most antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds may help counter the inflammatory enzymes that trigger head pain. So if your doctor says it’s safe to take melatonin, take one tablet before bedtime to prevent headaches and get a good night’s sleep.

Perfect Light for Sleep

For a sounder slumber and quicker go-to-sleep time, replace your bedside light bulbs with one labeled warm white, soft white, red or pink. (You can get pink or red regular-size light bulbs at The Home Depot but I should warn you that the check-out person will look at you funny.) Research shows that reading in soft light prompts the brain to release melatonin hormones that promote sleep. When I’m on the road, I carry a red light bulb or put my hot-pink hoodie sweatshirt over the bedside table lamp to give the light in the evening a soft, pink glow – one that promotes the correct brain waves for sleep. I just have to be careful that the red light does not shine out the hotel window so I don’t get any unwanted night-time visitors at my door! (I hear the women in Amsterdam’s red-light district sleep really well.)

Benefits of Lavender

You’ve probably heard that the smell of lavender helps you to get to sleep. New research shows it helps improve sleep, as well. People who breathed lavender scent as they slept enjoyed a 20% increase in the quality of their slumber. So find a lotion with lavender in it and put on a little before you go to sleep.

Night Rituals

Before you go to bed, Perhaps you can check the locks on all the doors, turn out the lights, let out the dog out for a bit then bring him back in., wash your face and brush your teeth, pull down the shades in the bedroom, and curl up with a good book, or your sweetie. Creating nightly rituals like checking the house, brushing your teeth or reading before bedtime will send subconscious signals to your brain that it’s time to relax. Repeat the same rituals every night, and your limbic brain will lay down the pattern that creates an “off” switch for your brain. If your sweetie reads this and insists that doing the dishes and a load of laundry, and dragging two trash cans down the driveway to the street would also be a great “off” switch for your brain, please forgive me.

By Patti Wood MA, is the Body Langauge Expert. As a top Speaker, Coach & Author she provides comprehensive group and one-on-one training.

You can learn more about Patti Wood at You can contact Patti directly at


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