7 Steps for a Better Night’s Sleep

Counting too many sheep? Creating a bedtime ritual can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper, more restful sleep. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Counting too many sheep these days? Follow these sleep-better steps from Mayo Clinic:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. This will reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle to improve the quality of your sleep. If you don’t nod off within about 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing, like reading a book or listening to music, before going back to bed when you feel more tired. Worrying about falling asleep can make it harder to do so.
  2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink. Don’t go to bed too hungry or too full because your discomfort might keep you up. Limit your liquid intake before bed, too, to prevent disruptive middle-of-the-night bathroom trips. And use nicotine, caffeine and alcohol cautiously. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants which can keep you awake. And though alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, it can disrupt quality sleep later in the night.
  3. Create a bedtime ritual. Doing the same things each night will tell your body it’s time to wind down. For example, you might take a warm bath or shower, read a book, or listen to soothing music — preferably with the lights dimmed. These activities promote better sleep because they ease the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.
  4. Get comfortable. Your room should be a haven for sleep: cool, dark and quiet. If you would find it helpful, use room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices that help block out excess noise and light. Be sure to use a mattress and bedding that you find comfortable, too. If you share your bed, make sure there’s enough room for two. And if you have children or pets, set limits on how often they sleep with you, or use separate sleeping quarters.
  5. Limit daytime naps. Long daytime naps can sabotage nighttime sleep — especially if you have insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. If you are a napper, limit yourself to one 10- to 30-minute nap in the mid-afternoon.
  6. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Regular physical activity helps you to fall asleep quickly and to sleep more deeply. Simply avoid exercising just before bedtime, as this might make you too energized to fall asleep.
  7. Manage stress. When you have too much to do and think about, your sleep is likely to suffer. Restore a sense of inner peace by managing your stress level. Give yourself permission to take a break when you need one. Have a good laugh with an old friend. Before bed, write down what’s on your mind, then set it aside so you can drift off to sleep worry-free.



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