12 Tips for Getting Healthy Sleep
The HealthCentral Editorial Team | Aug 29th 2012
Sleep is an important part of our health and not getting enough can be a problem in our daily lives. Here are some tips from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute for getting a good night’s sleep.
Keep a regular sleep schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends, helps your body stay on track with quality sleep.
Exercise, but not too close to bedtime
Exercising at least 30 minutes a day will help you feel tired when bedtime rolls around. However, it’s important not to exercise two to three hours before bedtime, because your body will not be able to wind down as easily.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
Caffeine, which is found in coffee, cola, certain teas and chocolate, can take up to eight hours to wear off. Nicotine is also a stimulant that can make it difficult to sleep. Drinking alcohol may help you get to sleep, but the quality of sleep is bad. It keeps you in lighter stages of sleep and causes you to wake up in the middle of the night when the initial sedating effect wears off.
Avoid large meals and beverages late at night
Large meals before bedtime can cause indigestion, which can lead to sleep problems. In addition, drinking too much water or other fluids at night can cause you to wake with a need to urinate.
Avoid certain medications
Some common medications, such as heart, blood pressure or asthma medications and other herbal remedies for coughs, colds and allergies can disrupt or delay sleep.
Don't take naps after 3 p.m.
Late afternoon naps can make it harder for you to fall asleep at bedtime. It’s also important to keep naps to under an hour, as longer can also make going to sleep at night difficult.
Do a relaxing activity before bed
A relaxing activity, such as meditating, reading a book or listening to music can help you feel sleepy. This should be part of your bedtime ritual.
Take a hot bath before bed
A hot bath will cause your body temperature to drop once you get out, which can make you feel sleepy.
Create a good sleep environment
This means you need to get rid of anything in the bedroom that will distract you from sleep. No blue light devices should be in your sleep zone, meaning no TVs, laptops, computers, iPads or smart phones. A cool temperature and dark room are also conducive to falling asleep more quickly.
Make sure you get sunlight exposure
Daylight is an important part of keeping our sleep patterns regular and keeps our body clock in sync. Try to get at least 30 minutes of natural sunlight every day.
Don't lie awake
If you are in bed for 20 minutes and still unable to fall asleep, you need to get up and do a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy. The anxiety of not being able to sleep makes falling asleep even harder.
Seek medical help
If you find that you still have trouble sleeping, or you are fatigued during the day despite getting enough sleep at night, you may have a sleep disorder. Your primary care doctor or a sleep specialist can help you figure out what you need to do.