Keep a regular bedtime schedule, including weekends
Time of day serves as a powerful cue to your body clock that it is time to sleep and awaken. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and it will be easier and easier to fall asleep. However tempting it may be, try not to break this routine on weekends when you may want to stay up much later or sleep in. Your overall sleep will be better if you don’t.
In setting your bedtime, pay attention to the cues your body is giving you. When do you feel sleepy? Set your bedtime for when you normally feel tired, within reason – you may not want to make your bedtime 2am if you have to work at 8am! If you regularly go to bed when you don’t feel sleepy, not only is it harder to fall asleep, but you may start worrying about not sleeping, which can end up keeping you up longer! If you want to change your bedtime, try doing it in small daily increments, such as 15 minutes earlier or later each day.
Get some light to set your body clock
We all have an internal body clock that helps regulate sleep. This clock is sensitive to light and dark. When you get up, open the shades or go outside to get some sunlight. If that’s not possible, turn on the lights to make your environment bright.
Napping can interfere with sleep
Perhaps the English had the right idea in having teatime in the late afternoon when you naturally get sleepy. Some people can take a short afternoon nap and still sleep well at night. However, if you are having trouble sleeping at night, try to eliminate napping. If you must nap, do it in the early afternoon, and sleep no longer than about thirty minutes.
Reserve your bed for sleeping. Do you sometimes balance your checkbook propped up on your pillows? Or jot down some notes for tomorrow’s meeting? It might feel relaxing to do tasks like these on a comfortable bed. However, if you associate your bed with events like work or errands, it will only make it harder to wind down at night. Use your bed only for sleep.
| Foods that help you sleep
||Some food and drinks that can interfere with your sleep, including:
- Glass of warm milk and half a turkey or peanut butter sandwich
- Whole-grain, low-sugar cereal or granola with low-fat milk or yogurt
- A banana and a cup of hot chamomile tea
- Too much food, especially fatty, rich food. These take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Spicy or acidic foods in the evening can cause stomach trouble and heartburn, which worsens as you are laying down
- Too much liquid. Drinking lots of fluid may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.
- Alcohol. Although it may initially make you feel sleepy, alcohol can interfere with sleep and cause frequent awakenings. Also some people are also sensitive to tyrosine, found in certain red wines
- Caffeine. Avoid food and drinks that contain caffeine, and that doesn’t just mean coffee. Hidden sources of caffeine include chocolate, caffeinated sodas, and teas.
Ideas to help prepare for sleep
- Reading a light, entertaining book or magazine
- Listening to soft music or radio broadcast
- A light bedtime snack or a glass of warm milk
- Hobbies such as knitting or jigsaw puzzles
- Listening to books on tape
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