The amount of sleep you get matters. So does the quality of your sleep.
Poor sleep can raise your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Lack of proper sleep can contribute to overweight or obesity. So it is important to do everything you can to ensure restful nights.
You will doze more soundly if you maintain comfortable and calm sleeping quarters and prepare yourself for bedtime. Minor changes to your space and your habits can help you get the sleep you need.
Set the stage for sleep
- Adjust the temperature. Most people get a better night's sleep in a cooler space with good ventilation. You may need to experiment to find the temperature that's best for you.
- Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex. It should be a place where you go to relax. It is not a good place to work or make your errand list. You may have more trouble getting to sleep if you associate your bed with anything stressful or busy.
- Rid the room of TVs and computers. Many people think of television as relaxing, but it actually stimulates your brain - not a good thing if you are trying to get to sleep. Even the light that comes from the television or from a computer screen can interfere with your body clock.
- Keep it quiet. Find ways to block out noise. Try using earplugs. Or use a fan or "white noise" device to create soft, soothing sounds.
- Block out light. You want your sleeping space to be as dark as possible. Try blackout curtains or an eye mask. This may be especially important for night-shift workers.
- Buy a comfortable bed.Your bed should be large enough for you to roll and stretch. Experiment with different bedding to find what works for you.
Shape up your habits
- Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and getup at about the same time everyday, even on weekends. This will help set your body's sleep-wake cycle.
- Limit caffeine. Caffeine can disrupt sleep many hours after you take it in. Caffeine is not just in coffee and tea but also in some soft drinks, medications, and foods. Read labels carefully. Avoid caffeine after lunch, and cut down on your total daily use if you need to.
- Don't smoke near bedtime. Nicotine is a stimulant that can make it hard to sleep.
- Don't drink alcoholic beverages within 6 hours of bedtime. Alcohol may help you feel relaxed, but it can disturb sleep later in the night.
- Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime. Eat dinner early in the evening, and avoid rich or spicy foods that may be hard to digest.
- Get regular exercise but not within 6 hours of bedtime. Exercise is essential for good health and may help you sleep better. But exercising late in the day can make it harder to get to sleep.
- Avoid naps late in the day. If you really need to catch a few winks, do it early in the afternoon, and don't sleep for more than 30 minutes.
If you are still having trouble sleeping after trying these tips, or if you have had sleep problems for 2 weeks or longer, talk with your doctor.
Created on 05/08/2002
Updated on 04/06/2011
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In brief: your guide to healthy sleep.
- Helpguide. How to sleep better: Tips for getting a good night's sleep.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Sleep hygiene - the healthy habits of good sleep.