Improving Your Sleep Hygiene

Are you having problems with your sleep? Luckily there are a number of simple things you can do to help you make the most of your sleep.

  • Regular sleep patterns are important. In particular, get up at the same time every day — even on weekends — regardless of what time you went to bed the night before.
  • Naps are good for some people and bad for others. If your sleep is disturbed at night, it is generally best to avoid napping.
  • Try to get some exercise each day. However, avoid vigorous exercise later than 3 hours before bed time.
  • Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol all have the potential to disturb your sleep. This includes teas, colas, etc. Caffeine and tobacco are both stimulants and taken too close to sleep cause it to be disturbed and lighter than usual. Alcohol can, in small doses, make you sleepy but then disturbs sleep later in the night.
  • For some, a light snack perhaps with warm milk in the evening may be helpful.
  • Unwind long before bedtime, and leave your day’s dilemmas at the bedroom door.
  • Go to bed when you feel sleepy.
  • Save your bedroom for sex and sleep. This room should be associated with pleasure, relaxation and sleep.
  • Have a cool, quiet, dark bedroom. Earplugs and eye shades can often be helpful. For some, a white noise generator can help to mask background sounds.
  • Wear loose-fitting nightclothes so you are as comfortable as possible.
  • A regular routine leading up to bedtime may help to reinforce good sleep.
  • If you find yourself watching the clock and unable to sleep, turn the clock away so that you can’t see the time.
  • If you are lying in bed awake and find yourself getting restless or irritable, leave the bedroom and do something relaxing or slightly monotonous until you feel sleepy. Then go back to bed and try again! Be patient. You may have to try this routine over again. The worst thing you could do is to lie in bed awake worrying about not sleeping.
  • The regular use of sleeping pills can make you develop tolerance to them and become dependent on them. As with all medications, sleeping pills also have side effects and risks associated with their use. You should consult your prescribing physician on the appropriate use of sleeping pills in your case.

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