Everyone has occasional sleep problems, but constant sleep shortage can add stress to your life. Stress hormones produced during the day (like cortisol) are actually eliminated as you sleep at night. Try some or all of the suggestions below to see if it helps you sleep better:
- Adopt a Regular Routine (and follow it every day, including weekends). Going to bed at the same time every night and waking at the same time every morning can help your body maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle.
- Don’t Nap. People who nap often have trouble sleeping at night. Skipping the nap can help you fall asleep faster at bedtime and your body will be better able to maintain sleep throughout the night.
- Reduce or remove Caffeine and Alcohol. They are both diuretics that may cause you to wake up for a middle-of-the-night bathroom trip. Caffeine, a stimulant, interferes with good sleep and alcohol causes early awakenings and difficultly returning to sleep.
- Train the Brain. Use the bed for sleeping only, not for watching TV, eating, or working. These things make it more difficult for the brain to shut down. Instead, train your brain to know that once you get into bed it’s time to go to sleep.
- Avoid Carbs before Bed. Don’t eat sugar or carbohydrates within two hours of going to sleep. Make your next bedtime snack a food that promotes sleep, like turkey, nuts or warm milk.
- Exercise. Another reason exercising improves our health – it decreases stress, which increases sleep. Just don’t exercise in the evenings because it can cause brain stimulation which makes it difficult to snooze.
- Relax. If you’ve been trying to fall asleep for 30 minutes, but can’t, get up and try doing something relaxing for 30 minutes (like light reading or a warm bath). Go back to bed when you start feeling sleepy.