Tips For Better Sleep
Almost everyone has occasional sleepless nights. Rather than just swallowing a pill which can lead to more problems in the long run, you can try some of the following techniques for good night sleep.
Behavioral techniques can actually cure chronic insomnia and studies have
reported that between 70% and 80% of those who are treated with non-drug
methods experience improved sleep. Furthermore, studies report that about
75% of those who have been taking sleeping pills are able to stop or reduce
- 1Don't worry about not getting enough sleep.
Try not to be rigid about when and how much you sleep. Why?
Those who worry about their difficulty sleeping start a cycle
of obsessive thoughts that contributes to a condition, known as "learned
insomnia". Learned (or psychophysiological insomnia) occurs when
a person worries so much about whether or not he/she will be able to get
adequate sleep, that the person's bedtime rituals and behavior actually
trigger insomnia. Worrying about a sleep can just make it harder
to fall asleep.
- 2Don't force yourself to sleep.
The very attempt of trying to do so actually awakes you, making it more
difficult to sleep.
- 3Don't look at the alarm clock during the night.
Nocturnal time monitoring behavior or "clock-watching" promotes anxiety and obsession about time. Remove the clock from view and try to avoid looking at the time. Keep the clock as far away from the bed as possible.
- 4Try to stay awake.
The study (Ironic
effects of sleep urgency) found that trying to stay awake as long
as possible can have the opposite effect and help people fall asleep.
Research on the effects of the paradoxical directive "to try to stay
awake for as long as possible" consistently reports significant reductions
in sleep onset latency for insomniacs. Here
is a comprehensive explanation how this technique works.
- 5 Go to bed only when you are sleepy.
Stay up until a reasonable bedtime even if you feel sleepy earlier. Go
to bed only when you are feeling really tired and sleepy.
- 6Don't lie in bed awake for more than 15 minutes.
This can make you anxious and worsen insomnia. So, if you are not asleep
within 15 - 20 minutes go into another room, read or do a quiet activity
using dim lighting until feeling very sleepy.
- 7Body-heating procedures.
suggest that soaking in hot water (such as a hot tub or bath) before retiring
to bed can ease the transition into a deeper sleep. This may be due to
a temperature shift (core body temperature drops after leaving the tub,
which may signal the body it's time to sleep). Or the sleep improvement
may be related to the water's relaxing properties, which may also have
sleep promoting effects.
If you suffer from insomnia, try not taking a nap. If the goal is to sleep
more during the night, napping may steal hours desired later on. If you're
a regular napper, and experiencing difficulty falling or staying asleep
at night, give up the nap and see what happens. However,
napping can help promote short-term alertness, for example, to prepare
for driving or in the middle of a long car trip.
- 9Establish a regular sleep schedule.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Getting your body used
to a schedule can help regulate your sleep cycle. Avoid sleeping late
on weekends to keep your schedule consistent and make it easier to wake
up on Mondays. Also, don't oversleep to make up for a poor night's sleep - doing that for even
a couple of days can reset your body clock and make it hard for you to
get to sleep at night.
- 10Develop relaxing sleep rituals.
Follow the same bedtime routine, such as having a warm drink or a light
snack, reading something soothing, listening to soft relaxing music, or meditating. Let
your body know you're getting ready to sleep.
- 11Bedtime snacks.
Bedtime snacks can help. An amino acid called tryptophan, found in milk,
turkey, and peanuts, helps the brain produce serotonin, a chemical that
helps you relax. Try drinking warm milk or eat a slice of toast with peanut
butter or a bowl of cereal with bananas before bedtime.
- 12Don't eat a heavy meal late in the day.
If you eat a heavy meal before bedtime, it can interfere with sleep. It is harder to digest late meals, since the digestive system slows down at night. Lying down with a full stomach can make you very uncomfortable. So, make sure to finish a heavy meal at least four hours before bedtime.
- 13Associate your bed and bedroom with sleep and sex only.
Don't watch TV, work, eat, or read in bed. Although these things help some people
sleep, they can also give your brain the idea that bed isn't just for
sleeping - and this can keep you awake. Use your bed only
for sleep and sex.
- 14Keep bedroom dark
Try to keeping nighttime bedroom dark. Even small amount of light in the bedroom whilst you’re trying to sleep may cause negative functional changes of the circadian system.
- 15Room temperature
Keep your room temperature cool and comfortable. Typical recommendation is to keep the room about 65 -72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sex is a well known great nighttime stress reliever! Healthy sex life
enhances your relationship, relaxes your body, releases 'happy' chemicals,
and even promotes wellness. And it welcomes sleep.
Noise is a common cause of sleeplessness. Isolation from loud noise or pets is a sensible way of
ensuring sound sleep. Use earplugs if it's noise you
can't do anything about - or change your attitude towards it. Keep a radio/player
by your bed and use it to mask other noise.
- 18Alcohol as sleeping aid.
Avoid the use of alcohol in the late evening to facilitate sleep onset.
The most common myth found among people is they believe alcohol helps
in the sleep. But the fact is, alcohol may initially act as sedative,
but it produces a number of sleep-impairing effects in the long run. Alcohol
causes awakening later in the night. In addition to causing the release
of adrenaline, alcohol impairs the transport of tryptophan into the brain,
and, because the brain is dependent upon tryptophan as the source for
serotonin (an important neurotransmitter that initiates sleep), alcohol
disrupts serotonin levels.
Discontinue caffeine intake four to six hours before bedtime and minimize
total daily use. Caffeine is a stimulant and may disrupt sleep.
Avoid nicotine, especially near bedtime and on night.
Nicotine is a stimulant and may disrupt sleep.
- 1. Obayashi K, Saeki K, Iwamoto J, Ikada Y, Kurumatani N. Exposure to light at night and risk of depression in the elderly. J Affect Disord. 2013 Oct;151(1):331-6
- 2. Shuboni D, Yan L. Nighttime dim light exposure alters the responses of the circadian system. Neuroscience. 2010 Nov 10;170(4):1172-8. PubMed
- 3. Krakow B1 Krakow J, Ulibarri VA, Krakow J. Nocturnal time monitoring behavior in patients presenting to a sleep medical center with insomnia and posttraumatic stress symptoms. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012 Sep;200(9):821-5. PubMed
Created: August 18, 2006
Last updated: December 24, 2014