How to sleep better at night

 | Oak Street Medical

Many of us lie awake at night wondering when sleep will come. Others fall asleep quickly only to awaken in the wee hours. Whatever the scenario, most adults have experienced difficulty getting a full, restful night’s sleep.

Insufficient sleep is linked to chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. Alternatively, sufficient sleep is increasingly recognized as an important part of chronic disease prevention and health and wellness promotion. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

Do’s and don’ts

Restful sleep tips:

  • Establish a schedule. Your body is controlled by hormones that have a regular rhythm, so try to go to sleep at the same time every night and rise at the same time every morning. The body’s need for a regular schedule becomes most obvious when making the adjustment to daylight savings time or a different time zone. These changes may cause you to feel tired or groggy.
  • Don’t eat large meals right before you go to sleep. Among other ill effects, eating a heavy meal before bedtime increases reflux of stomach contents up the esophagus.
  • Use your bedroom for sleep. Remove any work or entertainment distractions, such as televisions and computers.
  • Establish a routine before bedtime. Take a warm shower or listen to relaxing music when getting ready for bed. These activities will signal to your body that sleep is imminent.
  • Avoid fitness training near bedtime. Vigorous exercise right before bed stimulates your heart, brain and muscles. It also raises body temperature, which can interfere with sleep.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment. Go to bed in a space conducive to restful sleep, such as a dark and quiet room with a comfortable bed and pillows. Avoid falling asleep on a couch or in a recliner.
  • Make sure it is neither too hot nor too cold. Shoot for a comfortable temperature of 68 to 69 degrees.
  • Journal your worries. Write down any worries you may have, and reassure yourself that you can address any concerns the next day.
  • A change of space. If you can’t sleep, consider getting up and going to another room in your home until you become sleepy.

We encourage you to visit the NSF website for more information. In addition to providing information for adults, the NSF explains how much sleep children should get per night and offers sleep tips for newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children.

Talk with your doctor

Do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with us if you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness – especially if it’s combined with significant sleep disruption, such as snoring that wakes you or involves changes in your breathing rhythms with long gaps or apnea periods. In addition to talking with your doctor, consider visiting our previous blog posts on sleep apnea.