Sleeping Better

Overview

Most adults do best when they get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day. Sleep gives your brain time to grow and repair cells and rebuild your energy. Lack of sleep over time can cause sleep deprivation, or sleep debt. This affects your energy and mood. It's also linked with conditions like diabetes, obesity, and depression.

Improving your sleep

We all have trouble sleeping sometimes. Whatever the cause, there are things you can do to sleep better.

  • Improve your sleeping area.

    Your sleeping area can affect how well you sleep. Too much noise, light, or activity in your bedroom can make sleeping harder. Creating a quiet, comfortable sleeping area can help. Here are some things you can do to sleep better.

    • Use your bedroom only for sleeping and sex.
    • Try not to use your TV, computer, smartphone, or tablet while you are in bed.
    • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool. Use curtains or blinds to block out light. Consider using soothing music or a "white noise" machine to block out noise.
  • Set up an evening and bedtime routine.

    Having an evening routine and a set bedtime will help your body get used to a sleeping schedule. You may want to ask others in your household to help you with your routine.

    • Try not to use smartphones, computers, or tablets during the hours before bedtime. The light from these devices and the emotions that can result from checking email or social media sites can make it harder to unwind and fall asleep.
    • Create a relaxing bedtime routine. You might want to take a warm shower or bath, or listen to soothing music.
    • Go to bed at the same time every night. And get up at the same time every morning, even if you feel tired.
    • Use a sleep mask and earplugs, if light and noise bother you.
  • Try these tips if you can't sleep.
    • Imagine yourself in a peaceful, pleasant scene. Focus on the details and feelings of being in a place that is relaxing.
    • Get up and do a quiet or boring activity until you feel sleepy.
    • Avoid drinking any liquids before going to bed to help prevent waking up often to use the bathroom.
  • Be mindful of your activities during the day.

    Your habits and activities can affect how well you sleep. Here are some tips.

    • Get regular exercise. Figure out what time of day works best for your sleep patterns.
    • Get outside during daylight hours. Spending time in sunlight helps to reset your body's sleep and wake cycles.
    • Limit caffeine (coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas) during the day. And don't have any for at least 6 hours before bedtime.
    • Avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol can cause you to wake up more often during the night.
    • Try not to smoke or use tobacco, especially in the evening. Nicotine can keep you awake.
    • Limit naps during the day, especially close to bedtime.
    • Avoid taking medicine that may keep you awake, or make you feel hyper or energized, right before bed. Your doctor can tell you if your medicine may do this and if you can take it earlier in the day.

If you can't sleep because you are in great pain or have an injury, talk with your doctor. Also talk with your doctor if you can't sleep because you often feel anxious at night or often have bad dreams or nightmares.

Credits

Current as of: March 1, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Lisa S. Weinstock MD - Psychiatry

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