Finding it difficult to achieve a good night's sleep? You are not alone. Millions of people have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. The following tips for good sleep hygiene have been found to work for many people who have trouble achieving and maintaining sleep.
Your Personal Habits:
- Avoid alcohol; beverages with caffeine; chocolate; heavy, spicy, sugary, or sugar-filled foods; and smoking for several hours before bedtime. They can affect your ability to fall asleep or enjoy deep sleep.
- Regular exercise, particularly in the afternoon, can help deepen sleep. However, strenuous exercise right before sleep can prevent you from falling asleep.
- Restrict fluids before bedtime.
- Try to establish a routine and schedule of where you sleep, when you go to bed and get up in the morning. Make sure there is consistency in your wake/sleep schedule.
Your Sleeping Environment:
- Bedding that is uncomfortable can prevent good sleep. Evaluate whether or not this is a source of your problem, and make appropriate changes.
- If your bedroom is too cold or too hot, it can keep you awake. Find a comfortable temperature setting for sleeping, and keep the room well ventilated.
- Block out all distracting noise, and eliminate as much light as possible.
- Use your bed for sleep and intimacy and not as an office or for watching TV. Your brain needs to associate the bedroom with sleeping.
- Warm milk and foods such as bananas are high in the amino acid tryptophan, which may help you sleep.
- Relaxation techniques before retiring may relieve anxiety and reduce muscle tension. Leave your worries about job or family for another time.
- Pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath or a few minutes of reading are helpful.
- Get into your favorite sleeping position. If you don't fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes, get up, go into another room and read or some other, non-stimulating activity, such as prayer or meditation.
- Several physical reasons are known to upset sleep, such as arthritis, heartburn, menstruation, headache, and hot flashes. Sleeping difficulties also are associated with psychological factors such as depression, stress, and concern or worry about problems. Your physician can help determine the source of these problems and the proper treatment.
- Many medications can cause sleeplessness as a side effect. Ask your doctor about this possibility.
- To help overall improvement in sleep patterns, your physician for short-term relief of sleep problems may prescribe sleep medications. Always follow the advice of your physician when taking any sleep aid. The goal is to rediscover how to achieve and maintain sleep naturally.
- These tips will help most individuals but not everyone. If you still have difficulty sleeping after following these suggestions, please see your physician.