Twenty Tips to Better Sleep
- If you cannot get to sleep, rather than trying harder and harder to fall asleep, get out of bed and do something else. Preferably, move to another room and return to bed only when sleepy.
- If you have trouble getting to sleep, establish a routine for an hour or so each night before bedtime, such as reading, taking a warm shower or bath, light exercise, or resting quietly.
- Avoid too much mental stimulation during the hour or so prior to bedtime. Read a “light novel” or watch a relaxing TV program; do not finish office work or discuss family finances with your spouse for example.
- Almost everyone experiences an occasional night of lost or disturbed sleep. It is a natural, perhaps adaptive response to acute stress.
- If you have trouble falling asleep at night, avoid naps in the early evening.
- No matter how poorly you had slept the night before, always set your alarm to arise at the same time each morning.
- Regular exercise can be an effective aid to sleep. It releases energy and mental tensions. It is better not to exercise strenuously just before bedtime.
- Occasional loud noises – from aircraft, street or highways – disturb sleep even in people who do not awaken and who cannot remember the noise in the morning. These sleep disturbances can reduce restful sleep. People who sleep near excessive noise should try heavy curtains in their bedroom or earplugs to protect the amount of restful sleep that they get.
- Hunger may disturb sleep. A light snack, especially warm milk, seems to help people get to sleep.
- Various foods stimulate the body and disturb sleep. Avoid coffee, tea, and cola drinks near bedtime. Avoid late heavy meals. Avoid excessive alcohol.
- Everyone has a unique sleeping pattern. Some adults need 10 hours a night. Other adults need only five hours a night. Many people function best with approximately eight hours of sleep. Your requirement for sleep is unique. What is effective for your husband, your wife, or your friend is not what may be helpful to you. If you need only five hours of sleep at night, do not worry about it or try to force longer sleeping hours. Instead, learn to use your extra waking hours for something you would like to do or get done. If you want to establish how much sleep you need, sleep without an alarm clock on vacation for one week and monitor the amount of sleep you are getting in this uncontrolled environment.
Quantity & Quality:
- Everyone’s sleep needs change. The amount and quality of sleep varies in the course of each person’s life. The infant may require 16 hours of sleep each day and an elderly person may sleep three to four hours at night with frequent naps during the day. Changes in the length and depth of sleep are a normal part of life. Within limits, the quality of our sleep is more important than the quantity.
Symptom of a Medical Problem:
- Sleeping problems may signal a medical condition such as anxiety, depression and other disorders. It is important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause of a chronic sleep disturbance.
- Excessive sleepiness in the first three months of pregnancy is normal – do not worry about it.
- An occasional sleeping pill may be of some benefit, but chronic (nightly) use of drugs is ineffective after a few weeks. Long-term nightly use of sleeping pills may actually hinder good sleep. Natural sleep is the best sleep.
- Sleeping medications depress the central nervous system, so does alcohol. Excessive drinking or the use of any other depressant medication together with sleeping pills can prove extremely hazardous or fatal.
- Sleeping medication should be used with caution and only upon the advise of a physician, especially by elderly, pregnant women, and people with respiratory diseases, kidney disease, or liver impairment.
- If your doctor prescribes a sleep medication, ask for clear directions and information about the particular drug you are to take. Some sleeping pills have a prolonged effect and can impair your coordination and driving skills the following day.
- Sleep medication should be used only for the short-term management of a sleep complaint. Do not self medicate or increase the dosage yourself. If you feel that your medication is losing its effect, report this to your doctor.
- Although alcohol may help to induce sleep, the chronic use of large quantities of alcohol causes disturbed sleep and dependency.