Many millions of Americans frequently have trouble sleeping. Complaints include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or awakening too early in the morning.
Everyone experiences insomnia at some point or another, whether from excitement over a job promotion or stress at work, but chronic insomnia is a concern. Here is a list of ways individuals can improve their sleep.
–Maintain a regular schedule of activity (including mealtimes and bedtimes) seven days a week. Work and social pressures may cause us to keep chaotic hours, with frequently changing sleep and wake times, but unless we stick to one schedule seven days a week, our bodies’ natural rhythm is weakened, making it more difficult to sleep well.
–Exercise regularly in the late afternoon, about five to six hours before bedtime, even if it is just taking a brisk walk around the block. Exercising helps you to sleep more soundly, but exercising in the late evening before bedtime may stimulate your nervous system to such a degree that you are unable to relax and fall asleep.
–Avoid naps during the day. Naps generally decrease the quality and quantity of sleep at night.
–Eat a light snack in the evening if you feel hungry, perhaps with a glass of warm milk. Don’t go to bed with hunger pangs. On the other hand, don’t go to bed immediately after a full meal.
–Don’t drink alcohol, especially in the late evening. Although a shot of whiskey or a small glass of wine before bedtime may make you sleepy, alcohol actually disrupts your sleep. After the alcohol metabolizes, the quality of sleep is diminished.
–Use your bedroom only for sleep or sexual activity, not for studying, watching television, eating or balancing your checkbook. Marking the bedroom as the site of other activities may make you associate it with stress and wakefulness.
–Relax in the evening before bedtime in whatever way you enjoy. Set aside a time early in the day to mull over the day’s events, to work out unsolved problems and to plan for the future, but leave the 60 minutes before bedtime for relaxation.
–Make your bedroom as quiet and comfortable as possible. Sleep tends to be somewhat more consolidated, with fewer awakenings, in cool but not cold temperatures.
–Get out of bed if you do not fall asleep after 30 minutes. Don’t stay in bed if you become wide awake, anxious or tense. Although this may be difficult to do, it is better to get up, to leave the bedroom and to do something relaxing in a different room until you feel sleepy, rather than to stay in bed, tossing and turning.
–Some sleep disorders require medical attention, so people who think they may have a sleep disorder should discuss this with their family doctor.