Tips for Getting a Good Night`s Sleep

What determines a good night’s sleep varies from one individual to another. Trying a variety of things may help in finding the best routine for the perfect night’s sleep.

Ten sleep hygiene rules to consider:

  1. Cut down on your ‘bed’ time. Spending a lot of time in your bed prior to your regular sleep periods can make your sleep shallower. Find a different location to do activities such as reading or watching TV other than your bed.
  2. Maintain a regular bedtime. Waking up too early or sleeping past the time you need to get up are clues that you might need to adjust your bedtime. Keeping a regular bedtime every night allows you to get enough rest before rising.
  3. Avoid a clock in your bedroom. It is OK to set an alarm but put it in a place where you can’t see the time on the clock. This will eliminate any pressure that clock watching during the night may cause.
  4. Exercise: Getting regular exercise will help you sleep better at night. It is best to do this three to six hours prior to bedtime.
  5. Avoid ‘trying’ to get to sleep. The more you try the more awake you become. If you are having difficulty falling asleep, get up and watch TV or read for a while until you naturally become drowsy.
  6. Eat a light snack. Try drinking a glass of milk, cheese and crackers, or any other light snack might help.
  7. Avoid caffeine. Try avoiding all coffee and beverages containing caffeine, such as colas from lunchtime on. You may want to try to avoid tea and chocolate as well if you are very sensitive.
  8. Deal with worries prior to bedtime. If you are worry-prone, take a half-hour earlier in the evening for some ‘alone’ time. Write down what worries you and think about potential solutions to problems you are facing. Set them aside at bedtime.
  9. Try taking a hot bath at bedtime. Spend some time in the tub relaxing often helps you sleep more soundly.
  10. Try adjusting your bedroom environment. Do whatever makes you more comfortable such as using heavy drapes to make the bedroom darker, opening a window for some fresh air, or drowning out noise with a fan. Find out what works best for you.

Source: Mayo Clinic brochure on the topic of Insomnia published by Mayo Clinic Press.


Insomnia: How do I stay asleep?

Waking up in the middle of the night is called sleep maintenance insomnia, and it’s a common problem. Mid-sleep awakenings often occur during periods of stress. Over-the-counter sleep aids rarely offer significant help for this problem.

To help stay asleep through the night, try some of these strategies to relieve insomnia:

  • Establish a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine. For example, drink a cup of noncaffeinated tea, take a warm shower or listen to soft music.
  • Relax your body. Gentle yoga or progressive muscle relaxation can ease tension and help tight muscles to relax.
  • Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Keep light, noise and temperature at levels that are comfortable and won’t disturb your rest. Don’t engage in activities other than sleeping or sex in your bedroom. This will help your body know this room is for sleeping.
  • Put clocks in your bedroom out of sight. Clock-watching causes stress and makes it harder to go back to sleep if you wake up during the night.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon, and limit alcohol to 1 drink several hours before bedtime. Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep.
  • Get regular exercise. But keep in mind, exercising too close to bedtime may interfere with sleep.
  • Go to bed only when you’re sleepy. If you aren’t sleepy at bedtime, do something relaxing that will help you wind down.
  • Wake up at the same time every day. If you go to sleep later than usual, resist the urge to sleep in.
  • Avoid daytime napping. Napping can throw off your sleep cycle.
  • If you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep within 20 minutes or so, get out of bed. Go to another room and read or do other quiet activities until you feel sleepy.

In some cases, insomnia is caused by a medical condition such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome or chronic pain or by a mental health disorder such as depression. Treatment for one of these underlying conditions may be necessary for insomnia to get better. Also, treating insomnia may help depression symptoms improve faster.

If you keep having sleep problems, talk to your doctor. To determine the cause and best treatment for insomnia, you may need to see a sleep specialist. Your doctor may prescribe medication and have you try other strategies to get your sleep pattern back on track.

Source: Mayo Clinic brochure on the topic of Insomnia published by Mayo Clinic Press.