- Minimize noise with earplugs and minimize light with window blinds, heavy curtains, or an eye mask. Do not turn on bright lights if you need to get up at night. Use a small night-light instead.
- Avoid eating within two hours of bedtime. If you are hungry, a glass of milk or a light snack is a good choice. Milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which has been shown in research to help people go to sleep. Avoid consuming protein at bedtime.
- Get aerobic exercise during the day to reduce the level of stress hormones, but avoid anything too strenuous (aside from sex) within three hours of bedtime. Regular exercise might promote deeper sleep.
- Go to bed at a regular time and avoid napping late in the afternoon. If you need to nap, take a brief nap for 10 to 15 minutes about eight hours after you awake.
- Stop working at any task an hour before bedtime to calm mental activity.
- At bedtime, keep your mind off worries or things that upset you. Avoid discussing emotional issues in bed.
- Consider having pets stay outside of your sleeping area. Having a pet in bed with you might cause you to wake if you have allergies or if the pet moves around on the bed.
- Make sure your bedroom is well-ventilated and at a comfortable temperature (below 75°F and above 54°F).
- Keep your bedroom for sleeping. If you can't sleep or if you wake up, go into another room and read a book or watch television until you feel sleepy.
- Learn a relaxation technique, such as progressive muscle relaxation, and practice it in bed.
- Nicotine is a stimulant and should be avoided particularly near bedtime and upon night awakenings. Having a cigarette before bed might feel relaxing, but nicotine is a stimulant and might interfere with sleep.
- Caffeine should be discontinued at least four to six hours before bedtime. If you consume large amounts of caffeine and you cut yourself off too quickly, you might get headaches that could keep you awake. Caffeine is also a stimulant and is present in substances including coffee, cola, tea, chocolate, and various over-the-counter medicines.
- Alcohol is a depressant and might help you fall asleep, but the subsequent metabolism that clears it from your body when you are sleeping causes a withdrawal syndrome. This withdrawal causes awakenings and is often associated with nightmares and sweats.
- National Institute on Aging. Health & Aging: AgePage: A Good Night’s Sleep. Accessed 5/17/2013.
- National Sleep Foundation. Healthy Sleep Tips. Accessed 5/17/2013.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In Brief: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep. Accessed 5/17/2013.
© Copyright 1995-2013 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 7/20/2012...#12150