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Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep
- Daytime sleepiness
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Increased feelings of stress
- Impaired memory
- Shortened temper
- Lower motivation
- Slower reflexes
- More mistakes
- Keep regular hours—Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, even on weekends.
- Develop a sleep ritual—Whether it is taking a hot bath, drinking a cup of herbal tea, or reading a book, doing the same things each night just before bed cues your body to settle down for the night.
- Exercise regularly—Exercise can help relieve tension. But be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime or you may have a hard time falling asleep.
- Cut down on stimulants—Consuming stimulants, such as caffeine, in the evening interferes with your ability to fall asleep and may affect deep sleep. Instead, have a cup of herbal tea, which is noncaffeinated, before bed. You may even want to cut caffeine from your diet entirely.
- Do not smoke—Smokers tend to take longer to fall asleep, awaken more often, and experience disrupted, fragmented sleep.
- Drink alcohol in moderation—You may fall asleep faster, but drinking alcohol shortly before bedtime interrupts and fragments sleep, leading to poor quality sleep.
- Unwind early in the evening—Deal with worries and distractions several hours before going to bed. Make a list of things you need to do tomorrow, so you will not think about them all night. Try relaxation exercises, like slow rhythmic breathing.
- Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress and foundation—It is difficult to get deep, restful sleep on a bed that is too small, too soft, or too hard.
- Create a restful sleep environment—A dark, quiet room is more conducive to sleep. Sudden, loud noises or bright lights can disrupt sleep. You may want to try using a white noise machine to block out distractions. A room that is too hot or too cold can disturb sleep as well. The ideal bedroom temperature is between 60-65°F.
- Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex —Do not use the bedroom for things like paying bills, watching television, or discussing the problems of the day.
- Make sleep a priority—Say "yes" to sleep even when you are tempted to stay up late. You will feel healthier, refreshed, and ready to take on the day!
- Bright light and cognitive behavioral therapy—For those who want better sleep without the use of drugs, “light therapy” and cognitive behavioral therapy have both been shown to have some benefit.
- Avoid eating before sleeping—Plan to finish eating 2–3 hours before you go to bed. If you eat too close to bedtime, then you could experience nightime waking.
- Take sleep medicines as directed—Sleep medicines should only be used temporarily and as a last resort. If you do use them, follow your doctor’s recommendations. Most are taken within an hour of bedtime and should only be used when you plan on getting a full night of sleep.
National Institute on Aging http://www.nia.nih.gov/
National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org/
Better Sleep Council Canada http://www.bettersleep.ca/
The Canadian Sleep Society http://www.css.to/
Can't sleep? What to know about insomnia. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/insomnia-and-sleep. Accessed June 27, 2012.
Healthy sleep tips. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/healthy-sleep-tips . Accessed June 27, 2012.
Insomnia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated May 31, 2012. Accessed June 27, 2012.
Insomnia fact sheet. Women's Health.gov website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/insomnia.cfm. Updated February 17, 2010. Accessed June 27, 2012.
Melatonin. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated August 1, 2011. Accessed June 27, 2012.
What is insomnia? National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/inso/ . Updated December 13, 2011. Accessed June 27, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 06/2012
- Update Date: 06/27/2012