Simple, effective strategies to improve your sleep
Tips on better sleep
We call this important list "sleep hygiene" techniques.
How to use:
Sit down, read the list, use a yellow highlighter on anything you are not doing regularly.
Work faithfully on incorporating every single thing into your life.
If you then still have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. Ask if you should get a sleep study to figure out if you have a treatable sleep disorder
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Sleep Hygiene Techniques
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule; get up and go to bed the same time daily even on non-work days and holidays.
- Reduce stress in your life.
- Get exposure to light first thing in the morning to set your biological clock. Consider using a non-UV source of light exposure such as the Philips goLITE or the Miroco non-UV light.
- Exercise daily; mornings and afternoons are best. Don’t exercise right before bedtime.
- Avoid naps late in the afternoon or evening.
- Finish eating two to three hours before bed; a light snack is fine, but avoid foods containing sugar as it can stimulate the mind and interfere with falling asleep.
- Limit fluids before bed to keep from getting up to urinate throughout the night.
- Avoid caffeine six hours before bed.
- Do not smoke; if you do, don’t smoke for two hours before bed; nicotine is a stimulant.
- Avoid alcohol two to five hours before bed; alcohol disrupts the sleep cycle.
- Avoid medicines that are stimulating (ask your doctor).
- Avoid stimulating mind activities for a few hours before bed (reading technical articles, listing tasks to do, trouble-shooting, paying bills, etc.).
- Have a hot bath one to two hours before bed; it raises your body temperature and you will get sleepy as your temperature decreases again afterward.
- Keep indoor lighting low for a few hours before bed.
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime regimen (aroma therapy, drink warm milk, read, listen to soft music, meditate, pray, do relaxation/breathing exercises).
- Ensure your sleeping environment is quiet and comfortable (comfortable mattress and pillows; white noise like a fan; pleasant, light smells).
- If pets ever wake you, keep them outside of the bedroom.
- Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex; never eat, read, or watch TV in bed.
- Never keep a TV, computer, or work materials in your bedroom.
- Go to bed only when sleepy.
- If you can’t go to sleep within fifteen to twenty minutes in bed, go to another room and read something boring under low light, meditate, pray, listen to soft music, or do relaxation/breathing exercises until sleepy.
- If you have dry mouth problems, use a mouth lubricant such as Biotene Mouth Spray before you go to bed.
Note that Dr. Thomas' posts are for informational purposes only, and are not meant to be specific medical advice for individuals. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider with any questions regarding your own medical situation.
DONALD THOMAS, MD