Creating a Healthy Sleep Routine
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Quality of sleep at night affect our ability to perform the next day. Mood and overall health are tied to the quality of sleep we get each night.

We all have nights when we cannot fall asleep. Life stresses, medical conditions, or maybe a noisy party next door. Whether you have short-term or chronic insomnia , there are things you can do to sleep easier.

Environmental Strategies for Healthy Sleep
We love to be comfortable, warm and cozy. Going to bed at night should give you the same feeling. Look at your surroundings and see if you can make changes in the bedroom. Here are some things to think about:

  • Make sure you have a comfortable, supportive mattress and foundation.
  • Your bedroom should be very dark. Invest in shades and curtains that keep out the maximum of light.
  • Try sleep masks.
  • If noise keeps you awake, try earplugs or white noise (a machine that uses static noise to drown out disturbing noise).
  • Be sure that the temperature of the room is cool.
  • Avoid any distractions like TVs, computers, or cell phones. Noises and lights are distracting. Turn off computer screens a couple hours before bedtime.
You may also want to consider taking some time to take a short walk outside during the day. Sunlight or bright light may help you relax at night.

Behavioral Strategies for Healthy Sleep
Your body learns to respond to what you do out of habit. If you think about it, you have sleep habits too. Some of the things you may be doing make it hard for your body and mind to relax and unwind. A nightly routine will help make your body ready for sleep. Remember new habits take some time, so be patient and keep trying new things.

Here are some things you should do in the daytime to be ready for a good sleep at night:

  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, or chocolate) in the afternoon and evening.
  • Set aside some time for worrying and dealing with upsetting situations.
  • Exercise regularly, but not within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Do not nap during the day, especially after 3 pm.
There are also some changes you can make to your evening routine. See if some of these can work for you:

  • Do not stay up too late. Make sleep a priority.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night.
  • Use your bed for sleep and sex only.
  • Take a warm bath to relax before going to bed.
  • Have a light snack about a few hours before bed, but avoid spicy foods or large meals which can cause heartburn .
  • Avoid drinking a lot of water before bedtime or you may need to urinate frequently during the night.
  • Check your cold medicine ingredients to see if it contains caffeine or other stimulants.
Keep in mind that nicotine and alcohol contribute to sleeplessness. Avoid alcohol within 6 hours of bedtime and smoking within 2 hours of bedtime. If do you smoke, quit ! Smokers have more disrupted sleep than nonsmokers.

Of course, everything will not always work all the time. If you cannot fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something, then try again when you fee drowsy.

Sleep is essential. Keep in mind there may be underlying medical issues affecting your ability to sleep like apnea , snoring , or pain. If you have long-term troubles with not sleeping, contact your doctor see if other treatments may help.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

National Sleep Foundation

Better Sleep Council Canada

The Canadian Sleep Society

Healthy Sleep. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Updated August 2009. Accessed November 29, 2012.

Healthy Sleep Tips. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: Accessed November 29, 2012.

Insomnia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated November 26, 2012. Accessed November 29, 2012.

Yang CM, Spielman AJ, Huang YS. Insomnia. Current Treatment Options in Neurology . 2005,7:373-338.

Last Reviewed November 2012

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