Tips for Getting a Good Night Sleep
Have you been tossing and turning and wondering if you will ever fall asleep? You are not alonemore than half of adults have trouble falling asleep. Learn why sleep is so important and what you can do to get some.
During sleep, the body repairs itself and revitalizes organs and muscles. In addition, sleep is important for proper functioning of the immune system and the nervous system.Lack of sleep can result in:
- Increased feelings of stress
- Impaired memory
- Shortened temper
- Lower motivation
- Slower reflexes
- More mistakes
But a good night sleep can be elusive. A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60% of adults have problems falling asleep at least a few nights a week.
- Keep regular hoursTry to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, even on weekends.
- Develop a sleep ritualWhether it is taking a hot bath, drinking a cup of herbal tea, or reading a book, doing the same things each night just before bed cues your body to settle down for the night.
- Exercise regularlyExercise can help relieve tension. But be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime or you may have a hard time falling asleep.
- Cut down on stimulantsConsuming stimulants, such as caffeine, in the evening interferes with falling asleep and prevents deep sleep. Instead, have a cup of herbal tea, which is noncaffeinated, before bed.
- Don't smokeSmokers tend to take longer to fall asleep, awaken more often, and experience disrupted, fragmented sleep.
- Drink alcohol in moderationYou may fall asleep faster, but drinking alcohol shortly before bedtime interrupts and fragments sleep, leading to poor quality sleep.
- Unwind early in the eveningDeal with worries and distractions several hours before going to bed. Make a list of things you need to do tomorrow, so you won't think about them all night. Try relaxation exercises, like slow rhythmic breathing.
- Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress and foundationIt's difficult to get deep, restful sleep on a bed that's too small, too soft, or too hard.
- Create a restful sleep environmentA dark, quiet room is more conducive to sleep. Sudden, loud noises or bright lights can disrupt sleep. A room that is too hot or too cold can disturb sleep as well. The ideal bedroom temperature is between 60-65F.
- Use the bedroom only for sleep and sexDon't use the bedroom for things like paying bills, watching television, or discussing the problems of the day.
- Make sleep a prioritySay "yes" to sleep even when you're tempted to stay up late. You'll feel healthier, refreshed, and ready to take on the day!
- Light and cognitive behavioral therapyFor those who want better sleep without the use of drugs, light therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy have both been shown to have some benefit.
- Take prescribed sleep medications as directedSleep medications should only be used temporarily and as a last resort. If you do use them, follow your doctors recommendations.
- Generally, it is best to take sleeping pills one hour before bedtime, or 10 hours before you plan on getting up to avoid daytime drowsiness. Always talk with your doctor before taking sleeping pills, including over-the-counter brands. Some contain diphenhydramine, an anti-allergy substance, which may help you fall asleep quicker, but may not provide a more restful sleep. There also may be side effects.
- Melatonin, a natural hormone, is thought to help insomnia, but study results are inconsistent. Ramelteon (Rozerem), which works like melatonin, may be more effective. Tolerance to some sleep medications can happen quickly, and some may be addictive.