There are many things you can do to promote good sleep! Here are a few of the most common pointers:
Maintain a regular sleep routine
- Go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time every day on a consistent basis. Ideally, your schedule should remain the same (+/- 30 minutes) every night of the week.
Avoid naps if possible
- Each of us needs a certain amount of sleep per 24-hour period. We need just that amount, not more or less than that.
- Naps decrease the 'Sleep Debt' that is so necessary for easy sleep onset.
- When we take naps, it decreases the amount of sleep that we need the next night – which may cause diffulty initiating sleep and sleep fragmentation, and may lead to insomnia.
Don't stay in bed awake for more than 15 minutes.
- If you find your mind racing, or worrying about not being able to sleep during the middle of the night, get out of bed, and sit in a chair in the dark. Engage in "boring" activities, such as light reading in the chair until you are sleepy, then return to bed. You should not watch TV or use the internet during these periods! These will just stimulate you more than desired, and make it harder to get back to sleep.
- If this happens several times during the night, that is OK. Just maintain your regular wake time, and try to avoid naps.
Don't watch TV or read in bed.
- When you watch TV or read in bed, you associate the bed with wakefulness. The bed should be reserved for two things – sleep and intimacy.
Do not drink caffeine inappropriately
- The effects of caffeine may last for several hours after ingestion. Caffeine can fragment sleep, and cause difficulty initiating sleep. If you drink caffeine, use it only before noon.
- Remember that chocolate, soda and tea contain caffeine as well.
Avoid inappropriate substances that interfere with sleep
- Cigarettes, alcohol, and over-the-counter medications may cause fragmented sleep.
- Exercise before 6 pm every day. Exercise promotes continuous sleep. Avoid rigorous exercise before bedtime. Rigorous exercise just before bedtime may cause difficulty initiating sleep.
Have a quiet, comfortable bedroom
- Set your bedroom thermostat at a comfortable temperature. Generally, a little cooler is better than a little warmer.
- Turn off the TV and other extraneous noise that may disrupt sleep. Background 'white noise' like a fan is OK.
- If your pets awaken you, keep them outside the bedroom.
- Your bedroom should be dark. Turn off bright lights.
If you are a 'clock watcher' at night, hide the clock.
- Looking at your watch or the clock when you are having difficulty sleeping through the night will often make you more frustrated, and that will in turn make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Have a comfortable pre-bedtime routine
- A warm bath or shower.
- Meditation, or quiet time.
- A light snack is okay, but no heavy meals.