How to Get Better Sleep

M. Chris Wolf, Ph.D.

How to get better sleep is an important topic for those interested in better memory and brain health in general.Below are some guidelines that will undoubtedly help you sleep better tonight.

  • Sleep only as much as needed to feel restored the following day

Limiting time in bed helps consolidate and deepen sleep. Spending too much time in bed can lead to fragmented and shallow sleep.

  • Have an usual wake up time, seven days a week

A standard wake up time in the morning will help set your “biological clock” and leads to regular sleep onset. How to get better sleep will be enhanced by following this guideline.

  • Your bedroom should be comfortable and free from light and noise

A relaxing bed and bedroom environment will reduce the likelihood that you will wake up during the night. Excessively warm or cold rooms can disrupt sleep as well. A quiet environment is more sleep promoting than a noisy one. Noises can be masked with background white noise (such as the noise of a fan) or with earplugs. Bedrooms may be darkened with black-out shades or even sleep masks can be worn. Position clocks out-of-sight since clock-watching can increase worry about lack of sleep.

More ideas on how to get a better sleep....

  • Caffeine: Refrain or stay away from Caffeine 4 - 6 Hours Before Bedtime

Caffeine disturbs sleep, even in people who do not subjectively experience such an effect. Individuals with insomnia are often more sensitive to mild stimulants than are normal sleepers. Caffeine is found in items such as coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and many over-the-counter medications (e.g., Excedrin).

  • Nicotine: Avoid Nicotine Before Bedtime

Although some smokers claim that smoking helps them relax, nicotine is a stimulant. Thus, smoking, dipping, or chewing tobacco should be refrain or stay away fromed near bedtime and during the night.

  • Alcohol: Refrain or stay away from Alcohol After Dinner

A modest amount of alcohol often promotes the onset of sleep, but as alcohol is metabolized sleep becomes troubled and dismembered. Thus, alcohol is an inferior sleep aid.

  • Sleeping Pills: Drugs are Effective Only Temporarily

Scientists have shown that sleep medications lose their effectiveness in about 2 - 4 weeks when taken regularly. Despite advertisements to the contrary, over-the-counter sleeping aids have little impact on sleep beyond the placebo effect. Over time, sleeping pills actually can make sleep problems worse. When sleeping drugs have been used for a long period, withdrawal from the medication can lead to an insomnia rebound. Thus, many individuals incorrectly conclude that they “need” sleeping pills in order to sleep normally.

  • Exercise/Hot Bath: Refrain or stay away from Energetic Exercise Within 2 Hours of Bedtime

Regular exercise in the late afternoon or early evening seems to aid sleep, although the helpful effect often takes several weeks to become noticeable. Exercising sporadically is not likely to improve sleep and exercise within 2 hours of bedtime may elevate nervous system activity andinterrupt with sleep onset. Spending 20 minutes in a tub of hot water an hour or two prior to bedtime may also promote sleep.

  • Napping: Avoid Daytime Napping

Many individuals with insomnia “pay” for daytime naps with more sleeplessness at night. Thus, it is best to refrain or stay away from daytime napping. If you do nap, be sure to program naps before 3:00pm.

Read below for more about how to get better sleep

  • Eating: A Delicate Snack at Bedtime May be Sleep Promoting

A light bedtime snack, such a glass of warm milk, cheese, or a bowl of cereal can benefit sleep. You should avoid the following foods at bedtime: any caffeinated foods (e.g., chocolate), peanuts, beans, most raw fruits and vegetables (since they may cause gas), and high-fat foods such as potato or corn chips. Refrain or stay away from snacks in the middle of the nights since awakening may become affiliated with hunger.

  • Avoid Excessive liquids in the evening

Reducing liquid intake will abate the need for nighttime trips to the bathroom.

  • Do not try to fall asleep

If you are unable to fall sleep within a rational time (15-20 minutes) or when you notice that you are beginning to worry about falling asleep, get out of bed. Leave the bedroom and engage in a quiet activity such as reading. Return to bed only when you are sleepy.

  • Don’t have anxiety time in bed

Layout time earlier in the evening to review the day, plan the next day or deal with any problems. Worrying in bed can interrupt with sleep onset and cause you to have a superficial sleep.

The above guideliens on how to get better sleep will work if they are implemented consistently Give them a try, your memory and brain will be happy you did.

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How to Get Better Sleep to Sleep Deprived


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