Health Encyclopedia



Getting a Good Night's Sleep

It is common to experience a sleepless night occasionally. The following tips may help you sleep better.

  • Reserve the bedroom only for sleeping and sexual activities so that you come to link it with sleep. Go to another room to read, watch television, or eat.
  • Avoid activities that might keep you from getting a good night's sleep:
    • Do not take naps during the day, especially in the evening.
    • Get regular exercise but not within 3 to 4 hours of your bedtime.
    • Do not drink or eat caffeine after 3:00 p.m. This includes coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate.
    • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Nicotine can disrupt sleep and reduce total sleep time. Smokers report more daytime sleepiness and minor accidents than do nonsmokers, especially in younger age groups.
    • Do not drink alcohol. It may make you sleepy but also will probably wake you up after a short time.
    • If you take medicine that may be stimulating, such as antihistamines, decongestants, or asthma medicines, take them as long before bedtime as possible.
  • Create routines to help you sleep:
    • Set a bedtime and time to get up, and stick to them, even on weekends. This will help your body get used to a regular sleep time.
    • Exercise during the day.
    • Wind down toward the end of the day. Don't take on problem-solving conversations or challenging activities in the evening.
    • Take a warm bath before going to bed.
    • After getting into bed, deliberately relax your muscles. Imagine yourself in a peaceful, pleasant scene.
  • Control your environment:
    • Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
    • Remove distractions from your bedroom, such as a clock, telephone, or radio.
    • Use a humidifier or "white noise" machine to block out background noise in your bedroom throughout the night.
    • Try wearing a sleep mask and earplugs at night.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised January 7, 2013

Last Revised: January 7, 2013

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