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How To Sleep Better


Updated May 09, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

If you routinely have difficulty sleeping, it may be reassuring to know that there are things you can learn regarding how to sleep better. Since getting a good night's sleep is good for your health, follow the steps below to develop super-healthy sleep habits.
Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Maintain a regular sleep/awake routine. Try to put yourself to bed and wake up the same time each day to enhance your body's natural rhythms. Sleeping in on the weekends will make it harder to get up for work on Monday!
  2. Think about a warm bath. The process of your body cooling down induces drowsiness.
  3. Practice relaxation exercises before putting yourself to bed. A relaxed body will sleep better.
  4. Turn your clock away from you. Worrying about what time it is will arouse your brain, rather than help it to quiet down.
  5. Make sure to wind down your activities prior to bedtime. Reading a book, listening to music, and watching non-arousing television programs will help your body to shift gears toward sleep. Avoid activities that are stressful or stimulating, such as playing video games or trying to balance your budget.
  6. Turn off the television. It is helpful to make sure that your bedroom is dark and quiet. Essential for getting a good night's sleep is the ability to fall back asleep if awakened during the night. Better to teach yourself how to sleep without relying on the television as a sleep aid.
  7. Don't eat too close to bedtime. Heavy meals and spicy foods may result in symptoms of heartburn, making it tough to sleep comfortably.
  8. Exercise regularly, but finish your workout at least three hours before heading to bed.
  9. Pay attention to your intake of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, all of which have negative effects on sleep. Set a cut-off point for caffeine approximately six to eight hours before bed.
  10. Keep a notebook next to your bed to write down any thoughts or concerns that pre-occupy you while in bed. Enter your worries and bright ideas into the notebook to get them out of your head. Remind yourself that you will take care of things after the sun comes up.
  11. Focus on getting rest not sleep. Worrying about whether or not you are getting sleep is only going to serve to arouse your brain and keep you awake. Focus instead on how nice it is to be in your comfortable bed without any immediate chores or responsibilities.
  12. Give your brain a job. Counting sheep may have worked in the old days when life was simpler, but today's busy brains need more of a challenge. In your head, tell yourself a story, one that evokes neutral or pleasant emotions. Relive a wonderful event in your life, such as a spectacular vacation or the birth of a child, or imagine yourself strolling along a beautiful beach or an interesting city street.


    National Sleep Foundation "Healthy Sleep Tips " Accessed April 12, 2010.

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