10 tips for a good night's sleep

Jun 21, 2016, 14:41 PM by Thomas Speer, PhD, D, ABSM, Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine
Not sleeping as well as you’d like? Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Check out these 10 tips forgetting the sleep of your dreams.

1. Establish a regular routine that includes going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Maintaining a consistent sleep-wake cycle is a key to better overall health.

2. Get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Determine the amount of sleep you need by keeping track of how long you sleep without using an alarm clock for a week.

3. Develop sleep rituals before going to bed. Do the same things in the same order before going to bed to cue your body to slow down and relax. Certain activities, such as listening to soft music, reading or taking a warm bath can help you unwind. Consider turning off all electronic devices such as cell phones and tablets 90 minutes before bedtime.

4. Go to sleep when you are sleepy. If you have trouble falling asleep, go to another room and read quietly or do some other relaxing activity until you feel tired. Avoid overly bright lights as this can cue your wake cycle.

5. Use your bed for sleeping and sex only. Doing other activities in bed such as watching TV, paying bills or working on a laptop only serve to initiate worries and concerns. Let your mind associate the bed with sleeping and relaxation.

6. Don’t nap for more than 30 minutes or after 3 p.m. Avoiding naps all together will ensure that you are tired at night.

7. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise, even for 20 minutes, three times a week, promotes deep sleep.

8. Avoid alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and heavy meals in the evening. Alcohol may initially make you feel tired, but you will end up having fragmented sleep. It also aggravates snoring and sleep apnea. Stimulants such as coffee and cigarettes interfere with your ability to fall asleep and progress into deep sleep. Avoid heavy meals late in the evening, but don’t go to bed hungry. A light snack, especially dairy foods, can help you sleep.

9. Maintain a dark, quiet and cool room to sleep in. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices as needed.

10. Use sleeping aids conservatively and avoid using them for more than one or two nights a month. Avoid sleeping pills altogether if you have obstructive sleep apnea—it can be a deadly combination.