Studies have shown that people who sleep efficiently not only feel better than everyone else but actually live longer. If you struggle with sleep, start today taking some of these suggestions seriously. In just a few days, you’ll be amazed at the surge in your energy, mood, performance, and mental clarity.
• Exercise, but not too late in the day. A workout in the morning or early afternoon will help you sleep better, but if you hit the gym close to bedtime, you’ll be too keyed up to sleep. Stop exercising at least three hours before you go to bed.
• Avoid caffeine for at least eight hours before bedtime. This includes chocolate and caffeinated coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Steer clear of coffee-flavored ice cream and yogurt as well; they can pack a big caffeine wallop. Read ingredient lists on over-the-counter drugs–some contain caffeine. If you have any sleep problem, avoid caffeine-containing products completely.
• Forgo the booze. A glass or two of wine in the evening might make you sleepy, but can also wake you up in the middle of the night, when you’re likely to have trouble getting back to sleep.
• Go to bed at about the same time every night. You’ll be able to fall asleep more easily if your body is accustomed to going to sleep at the same time every night. Stick to a regular bedtime, even on weekends.
• Relax into sleep. Try yoga or meditation at bedtime, or take a nice warm bath laced with essential oil of lavender before retiring. You can also soothe yourself by getting into bed and reading a good (not scary) book.
• Give up late-night news. Disturbing images on TV or the internet, whether those from real life or fictional violence, can keep you from falling asleep. If you’re sensitive, get your news in the morning.
• Use your bed for sleep or sex only. Don’t get in the habit of reading, knitting, or chatting on the phone in bed. If you do, your body will not associate “bed” with “sleep.”
• Have a cup of herbal tea. Chamomile, passion flower, or any of the sleepy time combinations you see in heath food stores all contain mildly sedating, non-medical ingredients.
• Set the stage for sleep. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and the temperature in your bedroom is on the cool side. Keep the room dark. If sudden sounds wake you at night, use ear plugs or buy a white-noise machine, which masks noise with a steady hum.
• If you just can’t fall asleep, get out of bed. When insomnia strikes, lying in bed will only make you feel more frustrated. Experts advise that after lying in bed awake for 30 minutes, you should get up, go to another room, and read until you feel drowsy.