Tips for a good night's sleep
Whether or not you are having problems sleeping, there are many things you can do before and during bedtime to improve the quality of your sleep. In fact, following the healthy sleep habits below may be all that is necessary to eliminate certain sleep disorders.
- Wait until you are sleepy to go to bed. This reduces your time awake in bed worrying about sleep. You might find it helpful to follow a ritual of relaxing activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or reading a book.
- Keep a regular schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same times every day, even on weekends and holidays. Regular times for meals and other activities also help keep the body's internal clock on schedule.
- Make your bedroom cool, quiet, dark and comfortable. Room-darkening shades; earplugs or a soft "white-noise" machine; and an open window with comfortable blankets can help you achieve these ideal sleeping conditions.
- Don't read, write, eat or watch TV in bed. Your bed should be associated with sleep. That way, when you go to bed, your body knows it is time for sleep.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine for at least four hours prior to bedtime. While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it causes poor-quality sleep later in the night. Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants that can keep you from falling asleep.
- Avoid vigorous exercise within four hours of bedtime. Intensive exercise is important earlier in the day, but too close to bedtime it can stimulate the body and cause trouble falling asleep.
- Don't eat a heavy meal right before bedtime. Also, do not go to bed without eating. Being too full or too hungry can interrupt sleep.
- Don't use sleeping pills or over-the-counter sleep aids for prolonged periods. Becoming dependent on sleeping medicine can interfere with the body's natural ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Don't take naps. Skipping naps will help ensure you are tired at bedtime. If you do nap, try to limit it to one hour, and wake up before 3 p.m.
- Try to get a full night of sleep as often as possible. Give yourself at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Good sleep leads to more good sleep.
Note: The information provided above is for general education purposes and is not intended to constitute medical advice. The information should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, nor should it be used to replace the advice of licensed healthcare professionals. Health concerns or questions should be discussed with your physician. If you have any concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.