Tips for Better Sleep

While people with chronic sleep difficulties should speak with a medical or mental health practitioner about possible causes for poor sleep, there are some habits that can generally yield improvement in sleep.

  1. Try to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day, including weekends.
  2. Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
  3. Don’t watch the clock. This can make you anxious. Put the clock out of view if you need to.
  4. If you cannot fall asleep within 15 or 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy (avoid stimulating reading or television).
  5. Try to avoid naps—but if you must nap then limit the time of the nap to less than one hour and start the nap before 3:00 p.m.
  6. Get regular exercise (at least three times a week), but do not exercise within two hours of bedtime.
  7. Minimize your consumption of alcohol and caffeine throughout the day, and avoid caffeine or sweets after 6:00 p.m.
  8. Try to eat regular meals at about the same times each day, and have a light snack before bedtime. Going to bed with your stomach too empty or too full can be bad for your sleep. Warm milk or a few turkey breast slices can be particularly helpful because they contain a natural chemical (tryptophan) that can help induce sleep.
  9. Minimize fluid intake within four hours of bedtime to reduce the need to go to the bathroom at night.
  10. Consider why you are having trouble sleeping (low mood, anxiety, problems at home or work), and consider seeking help if you cannot resolve these issues on your own.