Improving Sleep

If getting a better night’s sleep is your goal, and underlying medical conditions are not an impediment, you may achieve success by following the Ten Commandments of Sleep Hygiene:

  1.  Schedule a relaxing period before going to sleep, to separate your body and mind from the day’s hassles.
  2.  Use your bedroom primarily for sleep, and not as an all-purpose activity arena.
  3.  Your bed should be comfortable, large enough, in a quiet, dark room and at the right temperature.
  4.  Keep a regular schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Don’t go to bed until you feel sleepy.
  5.  Be consistent about taking naps. Take one regularly or not at all.
  6.  Exercise regularly in the morning or early afternoon, but do not engage in strenuous activity late in the evening. A relaxing, mild physical activity might be helpful close to bedtime.
  7.  Assess your caffeine intake, and avoid caffeine after 2:00 p.m. Smoking close to bedtime or at night causes further sleep disruption.
  8.  Don’t use alcohol or street drugs as sedatives. While they might help you initially fall asleep, they lead to sleep disruption and deprive you of deep sleep, at time for years after stopping heavy use.
  9.  If you feel hungry in the evening, have a light snack or a glass of milk. Heavy meals close to bedtime can result in discomfort and further sleep disturbance.
  10.  Above all, don’t try too hard. If you can’t fall asleep, don’t lie in bed anxious and frustrated. Leave your bedroom to read, watch TV, or do something else to relax, going back to bed only when you feel sleepy again.