- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Prepare For a Good Night's Sleep
Simple things you can do to improve your night's sleep.
Prepare for a good night's sleep
Are you getting enough sleep? If not, the unpleasant consequences could include reduced energy, impaired concentration, disagreeable mood, and an increased risk of accidents. But you can take steps to improve your sleep.
Top tips to get good night's sleep:
- Develop a sleep routine
- Don't exercise just before bedtime
- Relax in the evening
- Drink warm milk and avoid alcohol
You're not alone!One study has found that at any one time, more than one in three adults report some trouble sleeping 1.
Develop a routineGo to bed and get up at the same time each day, allowing yourself seven to eight hours' sleep per night on days or weekends off as well as on work days. Although initially you'll probably miss sleeping in, once you're regularly getting the right amount of sleep you'll probably feel better.
Don't sleep during the dayTry not to nap at other times - if you really must take a nap, limit your nap to 20-30 minutes.
Keep coolExercise raises the body's temperature, which leads to a corresponding fall five to six hours later. This mirrors your body's natural temperature regulation, which drops to its lowest point during sleep. Exercising in the afternoon, rather than the evening, will help your body prepare for sleep.
A slightly cooler bedroom temperature of 64° F can also contribute to a good night's sleep 3.
Be comfortableStart the relaxation process as soon as you get home from work:
- Take a warm bath and change into loose, comfortable clothing.
- Spend the hour before bedtime reading, watching non-violent TV or listening to relaxing music.
- Write down all the things you need to do the next day so that you don't lie awake thinking about them.
Eating and drinking
- Avoid tea, coffee and cola before bedtime as they contain caffeine, a stimulant that can keep you awake.
- Beware of alcohol. Although it may appear to help you to fall asleep, this sleep will be shallow and disturbed 3. You may also have abnormal dreams and wake up too early.
- Milk is a great bedtime drink. It contains tryptophan, an amino acid that calms and helps you sleep.
Sleeping timeUse your bed only for sleeping - not working or watching TV. If you find yourself lying awake staring at the clock, get up, go into another room and do something relaxing (for example, reading a book) until you feel tired again. Some people find different background noises help them drop off to sleep, while others can't stand anything but silence. Experiment to see what works for you.
- Ohayon MM, Caulet M, Priest RG, Guilleminault C. DSM-IV and ICSD-90 insomnia symptoms and sleep dissatisfaction. British Journal of Psychiatry. 1997; 171: 382-8
- National Safety Council (USA). The scoop on sleep. The more you know, the better you'll rest. 2000.
- Silent Partners Sleep Clinic. Insomnia: the facts.