1. Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day, even on the weekends. Sticking to a schedule helps reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle and can help you fall asleep more
easily at night. Essentially, it gets the biological clock in sync.
2. Don’t eat or drink large amounts before bedtime. Eat a light dinner at least two hours before sleeping. If you’re prone to heartburn, avoid spice or fatty foods, which can make your heartburn flare and prevent a restful sleep. Also, limit how much you drink before bed. Too much liquid can cause you to wake up repeatedly during the night for trips to the toilet.
3. Move/Exercise at the right time for you. Regular movement or exercise can help you get a good night’s sleep. The timing and intensity of this seems to play a key role in its effects on sleep. If you are the type of person who gets energized or becomes more alert after movement/exercise, it may be best not to do this in the evening. Regular movement/exercise in the morning can even help relieve insomnia.
4. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in the evening. These are stimulants that can keep you awake. Smokers often experience withdrawal symptoms at night, and smoking in bed is dangerous. Avoid caffeine for eight hours before your planned bedtime. Your body doesn’t store caffeine, but it takes many hours to eliminate the stimulant and its effects. And although often believed to be a sedative, alcohol actually disrupts sleep.
5. Keep pets off the bed. Does your pet sleep with you? This, too, may cause you to awaken during the night, either from allergies or pet movements. Fido and Fluffy might be better off on the floor than on your sheets.
6. Make your bedroom quiet, dark, cool, and comfortable. Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Think about lighting: if you need to get up during the night, don’t use an overhead light, but rather a lamp or night-light. Think about temperature: Ideal room temperatures for sleeping are between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 75 or below about 54 can disrupt sleep. Adjust humidity and noise levels to your preferences. Consider blackout curtains, eye covers, earplugs, extra blankets, etc. to create an environment that suits your needs.
7. Have a relaxing bedtime routine. Do the same things each night to tell your body it’s time to wind down. Try things such as taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music. Relaxing activities done with lowered lights can help ease the transition between wakefulness and sleepiness. Also, unwinding early in the evening helps so that worries and distractions don’t keep you from getting the restful night sleep you need.
8. Go to bed when tired and turn out the lights. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do something else. Go back to bed when you’re tired. If you lay in bed agonizing over falling asleep, the stress will only prevent sleep.
9. Use sleeping pills as a last resort. *It is best to consult with your doctor before taking any sleeping pills to ensure the pills won’t interact with any other medications you might be taking. The doctor can also help you determine the best dosage. Never mix alcohol and sleeping pills.
If the above practices still don’t offer the sleep you need, talk with your doctor about an evaluation of the problem. Numerous other medical problems, from depression to sleep apnea, can also cause sleep disturbances and may need to be considered as part of the diagnosis.