One of the most common complaints I hear from patients is “I’m not sleeping well.” While there are several different medications that can be used to treat insomnia, I find many people have very poor “sleep hygiene” which can cause or exacerbate sleep problems. Here are a few tips to improve your sleep hygiene.
– Do not watch TV, play video games or use your computer 2-3 hours before bedtime. These types of activities stimulate your brain and make it more difficult to wind down for bedtime.
– Establish a regular sleep schedule.
– Avoid caffeine after lunch.
– Avoid alcohol near bedtime. (While alcohol does make you sleepy, it disrupts your sleep cycles later in the night making it difficult to stay asleep.)
– Stop smoking, especially just before bedtime.
– Exercise regularly (just not right before bedtime!)
– And lastly, if you can’t sleep, get up! Read until you feel sleepy and try again but don’t just lay there getting frustrated that you can’t fall asleep.
While all of these will help, just simply avoiding TV, video games, computers and caffeine prior to bedtime can have a dramatic impact on your ability to fall asleep quickly at night.
Brooke Uptagrafft, MD
Dr. Brooke is a family medicine doctor.