HOW TO SLEEP WELL

Updated April 7, 1999

     CAN'T SLEEP?

Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to sleep. Tossing and turning. Your mind is racing, going over everything that happened today. Night noises keep you awake. What can you do? There ARE things you can do! Read on and learn some new tricks to sleep well. These tips are also known as "Sleep Hygiene."

This reduces the time you are awake in bed.

Sit quietly in the dark or read the warranty on your refrigerator. Don't expose yourself to bright light while you are up. The light gives cues to your brain that it is time to wake up.

This will ensure you are tired at bedtime. If you just can't make it through the day without a nap, sleep less than one hour, before 3 pm.

Even on weekends! When your sleep cycle has a regular rhythm, you will feel better.

Regular exercise is recommended to help you sleep well, but the timing of the workout is important. Exercising in the morning or early afternoon will not interfere with sleep.

It is important to give your body cues that it is time to slow down and sleep. Listen to relaxing music, read something soothing for 15 minutes, have a cup of caffeine free tea, do relaxation exercises.

Refrain from using your bed to watch TV, pay bills, do work or reading. So when you go to bed your body knows it is time to sleep. Sex is the only exception.

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Coffee, tea, cola, cocoa, chocolate and some prescription and non-prescription drugs contain caffeine. Cigarettes and some drugs contain nicotine. Alcohol may seem to help you sleep in the beginning as it slows brain activity, but you will end end up having fragmented sleep.

If your stomach is too empty, that can interfere with sleep. However, if you eat a heavy meal before bedtime, that can interfere as well. Dairy products and turkey contain tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer. Tryptophan is probably why a warm glass of milk is sometimes recommended.

A hot bath will raise your body temperature, but it is the drop in body temperature that may leave you feeling sleepy. Read about the study done on body temperature below.

Trouble Sleeping? Chill Out! - A press release from the journal Sleep about the significance in body temperature before sleep

A hot room can be uncomfortable. A cooler room along with enough blankets to stay warm is recommended. If light in the early morning bothers you, get a blackout shade or wear a slumber mask. If noise bothers you, wear earplugs or get a "white noise" machine.

As soon as you get up in the morning, go outside and turn your face to the sun for 15 minutes.

ARTICLES

Sleep Problems Are Costly - CNN

Sleep Tips from CNN Plus Online

Sleep Clinics Help the Weary Find Relief - CNN

Healthy Sleep - Pacific Coast Feather Co.

Tips for Restful Sleep - Group Health Co-Op


Diagnostic Classification Steering Committee, Thorpy MJ, Chairman. International Classification of Sleep Disorders: Diagnostic and Coding Manual. Rochester, Minnesota: American Sleep Disorders Association, 1990.

Kryger, Meir H., Roth, Thomas, Dement, William C. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, 2nd Edition. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: W.B. Saunders Company, 1994.

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