Sleeping Better

Topic Overview

Sleep is important for your physical and emotional health. Sleep can help you stay healthy by keeping your immune system strong. Getting enough sleep can help your mood and make you feel less stressed.

But we all have trouble sleeping sometimes. This can be for many reasons. You may have trouble sleeping because of depression, insomnia, or fatigue. If you feel anxious or have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may also have trouble falling or staying asleep.

Whatever the cause, there are things you can do.

Your sleeping area

Your sleeping area and what you do during the day can affect how well you sleep. Too much noise, light, or activity in your bedroom can make sleeping harder. Creating a quiet, comfortable sleeping area can help. Here are some things you can do to sleep better.

  • Use your bedroom only for sleeping and sex.
  • Move the TV and radio out of your bedroom.
  • Try not to use your computer, smartphone, or tablet to compute, text, or use the Internet while you are in bed.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool. Use curtains or blinds to block out light. Consider using soothing music or a "white noise" machine to block out noise.

Your evening and bedtime routine

Having an evening routine and a set bedtime will help your body get used to a sleeping schedule. You may want to ask others in your household to help you with your routine.

  • Get regular exercise but not within 3 or 4 hours before your bedtime.
  • Try to not use technology devices such as smartphones, computers, or tablets during the hours before bedtime. The light from these devices and the emotions that can result from checking email or social media sites can make it harder to unwind and fall asleep.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine. You might want to take a warm shower or bath, listen to soothing music, or drink a cup of noncaffeinated tea.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night. And get up at the same time every morning, even if you feel tired.
  • Use a sleep mask and earplugs, if light and noise bother you.

If you can't sleep

  • Get up and do a quiet or boring activity until you feel sleepy.
  • Imagine yourself in a peaceful, pleasant scene. Focus on the details and feelings of being in a place that is relaxing.
  • Don't drink any liquids after 6 p.m. if you wake up often because you have to go to the bathroom.

Your activities during the day

Your habits and activities can affect how well you sleep. Here are some tips.

  • Exercise, but not within 3 to 4 hours of your bedtime because it may be harder to fall asleep.
  • Get outside during daylight hours. Spending time in sunlight helps to reset your body's sleep and wake cycles.
  • Limit caffeine (coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas) during the day. And don't have any for at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Don't drink alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol can cause you to wake up more often during the night.
  • Don't smoke or use tobacco, especially in the evening. Nicotine can keep you awake.
  • Don't take naps during the day, especially close to bedtime.
  • Don't take medicine that may keep you awake, or make you feel hyper or energized, right before bed. Your doctor can tell you if your medicine may do this and if you can take it earlier in the day.

If you can't sleep because you are in great pain or have an injury, or you often feel anxious at night, or you often have bad dreams or nightmares, talk with your doctor.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Current as of November 18, 2013

Current as of: November 18, 2013

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