Getting better sleep is a common desire for many. Here we will discuss different tools and recommendations on how to get better sleep.
Without good sleep, the body and mind do not feel and perform at optimum levels. Many things in life are not the same without a good nights sleep.
Before we get started, it is important to review the basics of sleep. What is sleep?
Once you have reviewed the basics concepts of sleep, and appreciate that it is basic biologic need, next we need to respect the fact that your body needs a specific amount of sleep to function. Insuring adequate total sleep time is integral in feeling well rested. How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need?
SLEEP HYGIENE TIPS:
Maintain a regular sleep routine
- Go to bed at the same time. Wake up at the same time. Ideally, your schedule will remain the same (+/- 20 minutes) every night of the week.
Avoid naps if possible
- Naps decrease the ‘Sleep Debt’ that is so necessary for easy sleep onset.
- Each of us needs a certain amount of sleep per 24-hour period. We need that amount, and we don’t need more than that.
- When we take naps, it decreases the amount of sleep that we need the next night – which may cause sleep fragmentation and diffulty initiating sleep, and may lead to insomnia.
- For another perspective on napping, see How Long Should I Nap?
Don’t stay in bed awake for more than 5-10 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. Do your mind racing in the chair until you are sleepy, then return to bed. No TV or internet during these periods! That will just stimulate you more than desired.
- 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 is reserved for two things – sleep and hanky panky.
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 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 2 pm every day. Exercise promotes continuous sleep.
- Avoid rigorous exercise before bedtime. Rigorous exercise circulates endorphins into the body which 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.
Have a comfortable pre-bedtime routine
- A warm bath, shower
- Meditation, or quiet time
After mastering the basics of sleep hygiene, and obeying the “Rules for Good Sleep”, most people will be satisfied, getting good sleep, and feel well rested. If you are chronically sleep after following all of the basics, it is probably time to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Learn more about How to Fall Asleep
There are several sleep disorders that cause excessive daytime sleepiness or “hypersomnia”. Even with good sleep hygiene, a sleep disorder can prevent or interfere with a good nights sleep.
Some sleep disorders that can interfere with better sleep include: insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, and periodic leg movement syndrome. There are several dozen sleep disorders which share many of the same symptoms.
For most, following the basics rules for sleep hygiene will help them get better sleep.