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How to Get a Good Night's Sleep - Preventing Insomnia

Updated on June 30, 2014

Set yourself up to sleep well.

Do you get the recommended six to nine hours of sleep on most nights? There are some simple things you can do to make it more likely that you'll get a good night's sleep.

Use your bedroom only for relaxing activities such as sleep, sex, relaxing music, and bedtime reading of that favorite book. Keep distractions like TV's and cell phones out of the bedroom. If your bedroom is a place you associate with sleep and other pleasant, relaxing things, you'll be setting yourself up for sleep whenever you are there.

Make your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. In a very dark room, your body's pineal gland makes more melatonin, which induces drowsiness and has the side benefit of being an antioxidant which may fight cancer.

At least on weekdays, go to bed and get up at the same time each day. This way you will train your body so falling asleep and getting up are easier.

Exercising each day can make sleeping easier, but make sure you do the exercise at least three hours before bedtime because exercise tends to wake you up in the short term.

Avoid caffeine after noon. Half of the stimulant caffeine you drink will be in your body twelve hours later.

Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but as it leaves your body you'll be likely to wake up while you'd rather still be sleeping. Alcohol is not a good sleep aid.

Try to avoid nicotine within two hous of bedtime.

Keep naps brief. Long naps can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.

A good nightcap is a glass of warm milk with 1/2 tsp. of powdered ginger stirred in. The milk contains tryptophan, a pre-cursor of the relaxing neurtransmitter serotonin. Ginger has the side-effect of drowsiness, which you can use to your benefit. If you are on blood-thinners, skip the ginger, as it may promote bleeding.

Another sleep trick I use if I want to get to sleep earlier than usual occasionally is to take 3 mg. of the hormone melatonin at bedtime. More than this can cause daytime drowsiness. Don't operate machinery for 4-5 hours after taking melatonin. Melatonin is only known to be safe for short-term use. Melatonin can raise blood pressure in people taking nifedipine and make seizures more likely. This hormone is not safe in pregnancy, breast-feeding women, and children. Melatonin can raise blood sugar. Melatonin might slow blood clotting. This sleep-inducer might make depression worse. Melatonin supplements tend to work better in older people possibly because they have lower natural levels of melatonin.

I tend to avoid antihistamines (in OTC sleep aids) because of drowsiness the next day. There are many prescription sleep aids, most of which are best used short term (to re-balance a sleep cycle) because they can be addicting. As of June 2014, benzodiazepines and z-drugs have been associated with an excess of deaths amounting to about 1 in 25 people who takes them.

If you have slept eight hours and awake feeling tired, you should check with your doctor about medical conditions like sleep apnea or depression.

Most info on melatonin is from Medline Plus at Most other sleep tips are from Harvard Medical School. Ginger tip came from a counselor and was verified on Medline Plus.


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    • cathylynn99 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from northeastern US

      hi, hafeezrm,

      it's okay to take a nap after class. just keep it to no longer than 1/2 hour.

      it would be best to move the TV out of the bedroom. if you can't sleep, then you would just have to go to another room for TV. then when you got tired, you would return to the bedroom, which would be a signal for sleep, since that's what you have it reserved for.

      getting out of the vicious cycle will require being tired for a couple of weeks while your body adjusts to your new habits.

      thanks so much for reading and commenting. keep me posted on your progress with sleep.

    • hafeezrm profile image


      7 years ago from Pakistan

      Nice tips for inducing sleep. But TV has become a part of the bed-room. When one cannot sleep, what should one do: one way is to keep remote handy and switch on the TV.

      My problem is: I cannot sleep well at night, if I sleep during the day. It is complicated by the fact that when I return home after taking a class of 3-hour, I just want to hit the pillow. Can I get out of this vicious circle?

    • cathylynn99 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from northeastern US

      wts, yes, seroquel costs a few hundred for a month's supply. some of the older antipsychotics like stellazine and loxapine are just as sedating and much less expensive than the newer ones like seroquel. i don't think anyone would prescribe them for you just for sleep, though. there's a mild antidepressant called desyrel (trazodone)that's very sedating and non-addictive that gets prescribed for sleep. it costs as little as $.72 per 100 mg. tablet.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I've had problems my whole life when it comes to sleep. Sometimes it seems better to just stay up for days on meth, and then finally, sleep for days.

      It's just as difficult to wake up, and actually do anything.

      I'm interested in trying the powdered ginger thing, as I know it lowers blood pressure.

      I know for a fact that Seroquel worked wonders towards helping me sleep, but I'm told that it's an expensive script.

      Thanks for the hub!

    • cathylynn99 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from northeastern US

      hi, cbr,

      thanks for checking out my hubs. i hope melatonin works for you. i also take a 1mg ativan (prescribed by my psychiatrist)occasionally to help me get to sleep. i don't take it regularly because of the addiction problem mentioned in the hub.

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 

      7 years ago from Washington MI

      I think I may want to try the melatonin. I often have trouble sleeping. I take bipolar meds, they don't always help with sleep. My parents don't sleep well either, I will pass the melatonin information onto them. It is something to look into. Thanks for the information.


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