Tips for getting a better night’s sleep:
Because of the fast paced lifestyle we all live in, getting a really good night’s sleep is becoming harder than ever. If you have trouble falling asleep, or toss and turn in the middle of the night, or find yourself not feeling refreshed and rested in the morning, you’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with getting a restful night’s sleep.
If you’re having problems sleeping more than three times a week for a month’s time, see your doctor. You could have a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. Identifying and treating the cause of your sleep disturbance, can help get you back on the road to a good night’s sleep.
Unless you’re suffering from a serious sleep disorder, simply improving your daytime habits and creating a better sleep environment can set the stage for a good night’s sleep. You may not be able to control or eliminate all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, but by following some of the proven sleep tips below, you can be well on your way to a more restful, productive sleep.
- Be sure you get enough sleep time. Most adults need between 7.5 and 8.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Plan your bedtime accordingly to allow for this amount of sleep time.
- Keep regular sleep time hours. Try to go to bed and get up about the same time every day, even on weekends. Sticking to a schedule helps reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle and can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
- Wake up to sunshine or light. We all have an internal clock that helps regulate sleep. This clock is sensitive to light and dark, and light tells your body clock to move to the active daytime phase. When you get up, open the shades or turn on the lights to make your environment bright and activate your body clock.
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol in the evening. These are all stimulants that can keep you awake or disrupt your sleep cycles.
- Reserve the bed for sleeping. Psychologically, your bed should be a place associated with sleeping, not staying awake watching TV or reading. It might feel relaxing to do these things on a comfortable bed, but these activities should be done outside the bedroom so that mentally your brain can associate your bed with only sleep.
- Regular exercise can help sleep. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and make sleep more restful. However, exercising too late in the day will actually stimulate the body and may make getting to sleep more difficult. A good rule to follow is no exercise within 3 hours prior to bedtime.
- Sleep mainly at night. Some people can take a short nap and still sleep well at night. However, if you are having trouble sleeping at night, try to eliminate daytime naps. If you must nap, do it in the early afternoon and limit the nap to no more than thirty minutes.
- Foods that help you sleep. Having a light snack before bed, especially one which contains the amino acid tryptophan, can help promote sleep. For even better sleep, add some calcium to your dinner or nighttime snack. Calcium helps the brain use and process tryptophan. Avoid eating too much protein before bedtime as protein rich foods contain tyrosine, an amino acid that stimulates brain activity.
- No big meals before bedtime. Avoid eating big meals within two hours of bedtime. Also, limit how much you drink before bed as too much liquid can cause you to wake up repeatedly during the night for trips to the bathroom.
- Avoid looking at the clock. If you do wake up in the middle of the night, try not to look at the clock as this can cause anxiety. Try turning the clock away from your eyes and don’t worry about the time until the alarm tells you it’s time to get up.
- Make your bedroom cool, dark, quiet and comfortable. Ideally, to maximize sleep, your room should be quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature and ventilation. Use blackout curtains or heavy shades to block all light from windows. If you have a problem with noise, try earplugs or a noise machine. And as far as temperature is concerned, remember, a little cooler is better than a little too warm.
- Is your bed large enough? Do you have enough room to stretch and turn comfortably in bed, or are you cramped? Especially if you have a bedmate, both of you should have plenty of room to stretch out. Always try to fit as large a bed into your room as possible.
- Your mattress, pillows and bedding. If you wake up with a sore back, you may need a mattress with a different comfort level, especially if your mattress is eight years or older. If you wake up with a sore neck, a new style of pillow may help there. As far as linens go, consider soft, breathable cotton sheets with layers of blankets instead of one big thick comforter. That way, you can control the level of warmth the blankets provide.
- Make the time before you sleep a time of peace and quiet. As much as possible, avoid things that may trigger worry or anxiety before bed, like upsetting news or gory or violent television shows.
- Quiet your mind. There are many things you can do to help your brain wind down and prepare for sleep. Relaxation techniques set the stage for quieting the mind. Make some simple preparations for the next day, like a short to-do list or laying out the next day’s clothes and shoes. Simple routines like this can do a lot to help the mind relax and wind down for the evening.
- Use sleeping pills only as a last resort. Check with your doctor before taking any sleep medications. He or she can give you the best advice whether you actually need a sleep aid, and determine the best kind and dosage.