If you find it difficult to sleep, there are some simple steps you can take to try to improve your sleep environment and help you get a good night’s rest.
Develop a sleep routine
Don’t exercise right before bedtime
Relax in the evening
Avoid drinking alcohol before bed
You’re not alone!
One study found that at any one time, 58% of American adults experience symptoms of insomnia a few nights a week1.
Develop a routine
Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, allowing yourself seven to eight hours of sleep per night – on days or weekends off, as well as when you are working. Although initially you’ll probably miss sleeping in, once you’re regularly getting enough sleep you’ll probably feel better.
Don’t sleep during the day
If you have trouble sleeping at night, try not to nap at other times – if you really must take a nap, limit your nap to 20-30 minutes2.
Exercise raises the body’s temperature, which then leads to a corresponding fall five to six hours later. This mirrors the natural temperature regulation of the body, which drops to its lowest point during sleep. Exercising in the afternoon will help your body prepare for sleep. However, exercising late in the evening can make it more difficult to sleep.
A slightly cooler bedroom temperature of 65°F can also contribute to a good night’s sleep2.
Start the relaxation process as soon as you get home from work:
Take a warm bath and change into loose, comfortable clothing.
Spend the hour before bedtime reading, watching television or listening to relaxing music.
Write down all the things you need to do the next day so that you don’t lie awake thinking about them.
Eating and drinking
Avoid tea, coffee and cola before bedtime as they contain caffeine, a stimulant that induces wakefulness.
Be wary of alcohol. Although it may appear to help you to fall asleep, this sleep will be shallow and disturbed2. You may suffer abnormal dream periods and early morning wakening.
Folklore has it that warm milk is a great bedtime drink that can help you sleep. Something warm and comforting can be very soothing and if it works for you, it is worth a try.
Use your bed only for sleeping – not reading, working or watching TV. If you find yourself lying awake staring at the clock, get up, go into another room and do something relaxing (e.g. reading a book) until you feel tired again. Some people find different background noises help them drop off to sleep, while others can’t stand anything but silence. Experiment to see what works for you.