The Plan to Break Your Sleeping-Aid Addiction

Get a sound night's sleep without taking sleeping pills with this 24-hour timeline and plan from sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus.

Can't get a good night's sleep without taking sleeping pills? It's time to stop suffering. Sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus made this timeline as a solution to stop your sleeping-aid addiction. To start, you'll actually spend less time in bed than you normally would (about five and half hours) and then slowly will increase your sleep drive over the course of seven to eight days. Once your circadian rhythms have readjusted, change your sleep timeline to be in bed for eight hours. Dr. Breus made this timeline for Dr. Oz's Truth Tube, but you can adjust so that it fits your daily schedule.

2 P.M.: Have Your Last Cup of Caffeine

Often when you resort to sleeping pills at night, you may find yourself exhausted in the afternoon, reaching for coffee and other sources of caffeine to make it through the day. Caffeine has a life of eight to ten hours and can affect the depths of sleep. Cut off all caffeine consumption by the late afternoon. 

11 P.M.: Take 1 Mg. of Melatonin

Trouble sleeping is often a sign that your circadian rhythm is off-track. Help normalize it by taking melatonin an hour and half before you are ready to get into bed.

12:30 A.M.: Lights Out

Before you nod off, be sure to set an alarm for 6 a.m. It's essential to wake up at the same time every day to keep your circadian rhythms stable.

2 A.M.: Practice Relaxation

If you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, don't panic. Avoid watching television or grabbing an electronic (read if you must). Instead, try progressive muscle relaxation: Work from head to toe and tense muscles for five seconds at a time. Release the muscles and relax.

6 A.M.: Wake Up and Get Up

Resist the snooze button and try to get up as the sun comes up. Each day, make it a point to get at least 15 minutes of sunlight, especially if you take heavy doses of melatonin. Sunlight stops the production of melatonin and this will help get excess melatonin out of your system.

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