In order to get a good night's sleep, make sure you are doing everything you can to promote a restful night. Here are some tips to help:
- Avoid naps, except for brief 15-minute naps at least eight hours after you wake up. In some sleep disorders, naps can be beneficial. Check with your doctor first.
- Get regular exercise, preferably 40 minutes of daily activity that makes you sweat.
- Avoid strenuous exercise after 6 p.m.
Your sleep rhythm (Circadian factors)
- Keep a regular bedtime and waking time every day of the week.
- Restrict your sleep period to the average number of hours you actually slept per night the week before. Too much time in bed can decrease your sleep quality the next night.
- Do not expose yourself to bright light if you have to get up at night.
- Get at least one half-hour of sunlight within thirty minutes of your waking time.
Smoking, caffeine, alcohol and sleep
- Do not smoke to get yourself back to sleep. Do not smoke after 7 p.m. or give up smoking entirely. Smoking can keep you awake, and make it impossible to breathe properly to sleep.
- See if caffeine is one of the culprits. Avoid caffeine entirely for a four-week trial period. Then limit your caffeine use to no more than three beverages, no later than 10 a.m.
- Alcohol can disturb your sleep later in the night. Practice light to moderate use.
- Keep your clock turned away from you. Don't try to find out the time when you wake during the night.
- Keep your room dark, quiet, well ventilated, and at a comfortable temperature throughout the night. Use earplugs and eye shades if they help you.
- Distance yourself from your problems and 'to do' lists by writing them down and putting them aside until the next day.
- Do not try too hard to sleep. Instead, concentrate on the pleasant feeling of relaxation.
- Avoid unfamiliar sleep environments.
- Be sure the mattress is not too soft or too firm, and that the pillow is the right height and firmness.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep.
- Practice a bedtime ritual. Reading before lights-out may be helpful.
- Take a hot bath to raise your temperature before bedtime. A hot drink may help you relax.
- Do not eat or drink heavily at least three hours before bedtime. A light bedtime snack may help.
- Be especially careful to avoid heavy meals and spices in the evening.
- Do not go to bed too hungry or too full.
- An occasional sleeping pill is probably alright. Use only as directed.