Tips on improving sleep

  • Bedroom is for sleep only. Use the bedroom only for sleeping or having sex. Don’t eat, talk on the phone or watch TV while you’re in bed.
  • Don’t just lay in bed awake. If you’re still awake after trying to fall asleep for 30 minutes, get up and go to another room. Sit quietly for about 20 minutes before going back to bed. Do this as many times as you need to until you can fall asleep.
  • Stick to a schedule. Keep your bedtime and wake time on a constant schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends, even if you didn’t get enough sleep. This will help train your body to sleep at night.
  • Limit your time in bed. Too much time in bed can promote shallow, unrestful sleep. For two weeks, try to cut the time you spend in bed by one hour and see if it helps you sleep.
  • Hide the bedroom clocks. Set your alarm so that you know when to get up, but then hide all clocks in your bedroom. The less youknow what time it is at night, the better you’ll sleep.
  • Exercise and stay active. Get at least 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise daily, preferably at least five to six hours before bedtime. Sex can be a natural sleep inducer and helps some people.Avoid emotional upset or stressful situations prior to bedtime.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Caffeine after lunchtime and using nicotine can keep you from falling asleep at night. Alcohol can cause unrestful sleep and frequent awakenings.
  • Reset your body’s clock. If you fall asleep too early and then wake up too early, use light to push back your internal clock. During times of the year when it’s light outside in the evenings, go outside for 30 minutes or sit near a very bright light.
  • Check your medications. If you take medications regularly, check with your doctor to see if they may be contributing to your insomnia. Also check the labels of over-the-counter products to see if they contain caffeine or other stimulants, such as pseudoephedrine.
  • Don’t put up with pain. If a painful condition bothers you, make sure the pain reliever you take is effective enough to control your pain while you’re sleeping.
  • Find ways to relax. A warm bath or light snack before bedtime may help prepare you for sleep. Having your partner give you a massage also may help relax you.
  • Avoid or limit naps. Naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you can’t get by without one, try to limit a nap to no more than 45 minutes in bed and to 30 minutes asleep.
  • Minimize sleep interruptions. Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark. Close your bedroom door or create a subtle background noise, such as running a fan, to help drown out other noises. Keep your bedroom temperature comfortable, usually cooler than during the day. Drink less before bedtime so that you won’t have to go to the toilet as often.

Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health

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