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Tips for Better Sleep

Updated on April 12, 2013

Do You Have Problems Sleeping?

For too many people, sleeping better is a dream that is just out of reach. After many nights of tossing and turning, unable to get a good night's sleep, people are excessively sleepy during the day. This can cause problems such as falling asleep at work or even while driving.

Over a long period of time, lack of sufficient sleep can result in such diverse health problems as depression, heart attack and stroke. Sleep disturbance has even been linked to Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

For all of these reasons, it is important to find ways to sleep better rather than just suffering through insomnia or other issues. I have experienced sleeping problems for many years and now my doctor is telling me I need to learn to manage my sleep hygiene better to avoid other health problems.

Here are some of the tips for better sleep my doctor gave me. Maybe they will help you too!

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My Doctor's Prescription for Better Sleep - Just Two Big Tips!

  1. Take melatonin at suppertime. I end up taking it before I go to bed, and I think it is miraculous how well it works. Try it!
  2. Go to bed and get up at the same time everyday, even days off. This helps a lot!

The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep - A Book to Help You Sleep Better

For those who want a more in-depth guide to sleeping better, I recommend this book. Dr. Lawrence Epstein, from Harvard Medical School, takes you through a proven six-step plan to improve your sleep.

The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep (Harvard Medical School Guides)
The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep (Harvard Medical School Guides)

Maximize your nights and energize your days. Understand the health benefits of sleep and identifies signs of sleep problems as Dr. Epstein gives in-depth advice on how to:

Turn your bedroom into the optimal sleep environment

Finally overcome insomnia

Silence buzz-saw snoring

Relax restless legs

Deal with daytime exhaustion

Determine if sleep medication is right for you

Improve your sleep by improving your child's sleep

 

Sleeping Better Poll I

Do you have problems sleeping?

See results

Update: I am Sleeping Better! - June 30, 2012

Three months have passed since I first wrote this article. Since then I have been sleeping better. A lot better!

I am feeling more alert and energetic. I still cannot say my memory is much improved. I am hoping it will just take more time.

Here are the steps I have taken that have helped me get a better night sleep.

  1. Going to bed at about the same time every night.
  2. Getting up at about the same time every morning.
  3. A window air conditioner installed in my bedroom. This has probably been the biggest help to my sleeping. It completely drowns out the sound of the trains that had been waking me up for the past eight years.
  4. Melatonin before bed. This stuff is amazing! I do not know how much is the correct dose. I take 5 milligrams at bedtime and it does the trick. I have read if you take more than you need, your body just throws it out.
  5. Eliminate anything that stimulates the brain at night. I turn the computer off, turn the lights down. No television. No reading. If I get up to use the bathroom, I leave the lights off. I do not allow myself to think about anything. No problem-solving. No planning. Definitely no worrying! I imagine a pleasant scene in my mind and stay relaxed.

The Melatonin that Helped Me Sleep Better

This is the brand of melatonin I have been taking the past three months. It helped me the first night I took it, and it has worked well every night since.

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the brain to produce sleep. It is completely natural. Anything your body does not need, it eliminates. This makes it completely safe to take.

Nature Made Melatonin Tablets, 5 Mg, 90 Count
Nature Made Melatonin Tablets, 5 Mg, 90 Count

I like this brand because it does not include artificial ingredients, dyes or preservatives. It is just a simple, white pill with no taste at all.

In my opinion, if you have sleep problems it is worth it to try a bottle of pills that costs less than ten dollars. Talk to your doctor first, of course. Imagine how much better you could feel for less than five bucks a month!

This is a product that has changed my life for a very small amount of money!

 

A Few More Things that have Helped me to Sleep Better over the Years

I have struggled with insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness for the past twelve or thirteen years. Usually I can fall asleep without too much problem, because I am exhausted. My problem is that I wake up about 3:00 am and cannot go back to sleep.

I have tried a lot of things to improve my sleep. Here are some of them. Maybe one of them will work for you!

  1. Cut back on caffeine. This seems to be helpful to me. I often use caffeine to keep myself going through the day, but if I can cut back to just one cup of coffee or tea first thing in the morning I do seem to sleep better the following night. Another problem is that caffeinated beverages irritate the bladder, and I found when I was consuming a lot of them that I was up several times in the night to go to the bathroom. Since cutting back to just one cup of coffee and then drinking water the rest of the day, I am able to eliminate my middle of the night trips to the potty.
  2. Cut out naps. I used to take a nap every afternoon. It felt so good, and I fell asleep easily. The problem was that I discovered those naps were interfering with being able to sleep at night. I slept better when I did not have those naps, so I had to cut that out.
  3. White noise. I think this may help me, but I am not certain. I like the soothing sound of a fan in the bedroom, but I usually still wake up. I have a sense that it may lull me into a deeper sleep during the times that I do sleep. There is no way to prove this. It is cheap to try it and easy to reverse if you do not like it.
  4. Cool temperature in the bedroom. Many experts recommend having your bedroom temperature cooler. There is a physiological reason for this. When your body temperature drops in the evening, it induces sleep. I blocked the heating duct to my bedroom and installed a ceiling fan. I noticed an improvement in sleep after both of these actions. Some nights I have to pile on the blankets and wear cozy pajamas, but I still sleep better than when my bedroom was hot and I was wearing a t-shirt and sleeping under a thin sheet.
  5. A hot bath before bed. I did this for a while, but heat seems to affect a medical condition I have. It did seem helpful in terms of relaxing, so if heat does not bother you I recommend giving it a try. You might wish to add some aromatherapy to the bath to increase your relaxation.
  6. Crossword puzzles. I love to read and had a habit of going to bed and reading. I discovered that many times I was staying up reading an interesting book when I should be sleeping. When I did not read I found I would worry instead. I was going through a divorce and had two children I was worried about, finances were always a problem and I did not know how we would make it. I found if I focused on working a crossword puzzle, it took my mind off my problems but was not interesting enough to keep me awake. I had the crossword habit for quite a few years and it got me through many rough nights.
  7. Use the bed only for sleep and sex. I think this is good advice, but I have to read and work crossword puzzles in bed. Maybe I would sleep better if I got rid of those activities, but I may never know. I cannot imagine eliminating relaxing in bed with a book or a puzzle. I did remove the television from my bedroom many years ago and that was helpful for sleeping.

Sleeping Better Poll II

Which stimulus would interfere the most with getting a good night's sleep?

See results

More Books to Help You Sleep Better

Here are a few more books you might find helpful in dealing with sleep problems. All of these books are highly recommended by people who have experienced sleeping difficulties.

I Can Make You Sleep: Overcome Insomnia Forever and Get the Best Rest of Your Life!  Book and CD
I Can Make You Sleep: Overcome Insomnia Forever and Get the Best Rest of Your Life! Book and CD

This one seems particularly helpful for people like me who suffer from anxiety and nagging thoughts during the night.

 
Say Good Night to Insomnia: The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program Developed At Harvard Medical School
Say Good Night to Insomnia: The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program Developed At Harvard Medical School

A six-week program to overcome insomnia. Great for people who like to have a plan to follow.

 
No More Sleepless Nights
No More Sleepless Nights

Create your own customized sleep therapy program. For those with chronic insomnia or people who only experience sleep problems from time to time.

 

Sounds to Help You Sleep Better

I love a variety of CDs that I sometimes play at night to help me sleep better. These CDs really work well for me. I find it helps to switch them around from time to time, as the effect seems to wear off after I have used one for a while. Having a variety on hand keeps it fresh and prevents my brain from tuning them out.

This is a nice one that just sounds like rain falling. It is very relaxing and reminds me of camping or sleeping out on a screened porch on a rainy afternoon.

Sleepy Rain: With Delta Brianwave Pulses
Sleepy Rain: With Delta Brianwave Pulses

Click through to hear a sample of the relaxing rain sound you get with this CD.

 

More Sounds to Help You Sleep Better

Another benefit of using these relaxing CDs to help you sleep better is the white noise effect they have of blocking out other sounds. If you are bothered by traffic noise, neighbors or jets flying over your house, playing one of these CDs in your bedroom can be helpful in creating a more peaceful environment for sleep.

Since everyone is different, choose sounds that appeal to you. The links below will take you to a page where you can listen to samples and purchase the CDs or MP3 versions if you like. You can be sleeping better tonight!

Music to Promote Sleep
Music to Promote Sleep

Scientifically designed to promote sleep through the development of a delta brainwave state.

 
Sonic Aid: Sleep Therapy
Sonic Aid: Sleep Therapy

I really like the relaxing musical sounds on this CD.

 
Sleep Soundly
Sleep Soundly

Very relaxing music to lull you into a deep and restful sleep.

 

Sleeping Better Poll III

Are you bothered by environmental noises at night?

See results

My Dream Sound Machine - I am pretty sure I would sleep better with one of these!

I want one of these amazing little machines! This is the white noise machine of my dreams!

Not only does this guy have ten different sounds to choose from, it actually adjusts itself to any sounds that occur in the environment to prevent you from hearing them.

Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine with Real Non-Looping Nature Sounds, Fan Sounds, White Noise, and Adaptive Sound Technology
Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine with Real Non-Looping Nature Sounds, Fan Sounds, White Noise, and Adaptive Sound Technology

I loved the descriptions on this baby, but it was reading the reviews that really convinced me I needed one. This may be the coolest, and most effective, sleep gadget on the market today! This is at the top of my wish list!

 

White Noise to Help You Sleep Better

If environmental sounds are keeping you awake, try white noise. These machines emit a whooshing sound that absorbs other sound frequencies, blocking them from your hearing. Many people find these machines create a peaceful environment that helps them get a better night's sleep.

Marpac Dohm-DS All-Natural White Noise Sound Machine, Tan
Marpac Dohm-DS All-Natural White Noise Sound Machine, Tan

Over 1,300 people have given this white noise machine five stars! Wow!

This sound conditioner is available in double- or single-speed styles. We have tried both. The DS model has a softer and a louder setting. I only ever seem to need the softer setting. It is sufficient to block the sounds that come from outside my house including train whistles and aircraft flying over the house. If you live in an apartment with noisy neighbors you might benefit from the dual-speed model.

 

More White Noise to Help You Sleep Better

Marsona TSCI-330 Travel Sound Conditioner
Marsona TSCI-330 Travel Sound Conditioner

A small and compact white noise machine designed especially for travelers. Three sound levels: rain, waterfall and surf.

 
Brown Noise For Sleep
Brown Noise For Sleep

For 99 cents you may be able to solve your sleep problems by tonight! This is available as an MP3 download. Have a listen and give it a try!

 

Update: Naps May Help Excessive Daytime Sleepiness - July 31, 2012

Today my friend showed me this short video that explains how naps might be helpful for people with Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. I have been struggling with this again. I nod off almost anywhere. I even fell asleep in the noisy music store during my daughter's drum lesson!

I am going to give this napping method a try, since it turns out I have been doing it wrong! I'll let you know in a few weeks how it turns out.

Try Upgrading Your Pillow to Help You Sleep Better

If you are bothered by hot flashes or nightsweats, you might want to try a cooling pillow. This one has favorable reviews and is helping people sleep better.

Cooling Pillow (Standard)
Cooling Pillow (Standard)

The company offers a 30-day guarantee, so you can try the pillow and send it back for a refund if you don't like it.

 

Tell us about your sleep problems or what you have done that has helped you sleep better!

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Hubby falls asleep with the TV blaring. It's at the other end of the house, but still keeps me awake. At bedtime, I notice all my little aches and pains from arthritis, etc. Taking an ibuprofen a half hour before bedtime helps me.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      For the past few months the only night that I can't sleep is Sunday night, not sure what has triggered this and it doesn't matter if I get up at 4am or 8am Sunday morning...I still don't sleep Sunday night - and this Sunday not any different...

    • profile image

      AngryBaker 5 years ago

      Can't sleep..except at nap time,but I try not to npa...I've tried Valerian, and Tylenol PM.. My brain feels like it's in a blender... whiiiirrrrrr

    • orange3 lm profile image

      orange3 lm 5 years ago

      An occasional Melatonin (3mg) helps me every now and then.

      Great advice here too! Keeping the temperature right in the room for me is also very important.

    • MomwithAHook LM profile image

      Sara Duggan 5 years ago from California

      when I was younger I had to have the room completely dark and absolutely no sounds. ex. even the vent for the air condition would interfere with sleeping

      Now, I'm pretty much tired by the time I go to sleep so I have no problems although it does help me to wear an eye mask.

    • chiactivate lm profile image

      Vita Activate 4 years ago

      It's not dark enough to make me fall asleep. I'm having problem with sleeping every night.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      By avoiding anything with caffeine and napping. I also make sure that the room is dark and bed is comfortable.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      Great advice. I will pass it on to a few poeple I know who have difficulty slepping. Fortunately, I have rarely had that problem.

    • beaworkathomemom profile image

      beaworkathomemom 4 years ago

      Great tips and advice. It is always refreshing to wake up in the morning after a long uninterrupted sleep.

    • profile image

      grannysage 4 years ago

      I have difficulty falling asleep so lay awake until the wee hours of the morning. I haven't found Melatonin to be of much help. I end up napping in the day and as the video says, I nap too long, which throws my sleep cycle off. This is a very interesting and helpful lens.

    • adysmal profile image

      adysmal 2 years ago

      There are a lot of tips here worth a try! I just got myself some melatonin...I plan on trying it tomorrow!!

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