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Tips for Getting More Sleep

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Topic Overview

Getting enough sleep is important for physical and emotional health. If you are having difficulty sleeping, don't read, eat, or watch TV in bed. In addition, try these tips:

  • Decrease the amount of light in your sleeping area. Close the curtains and turn off the lights.
  • Decrease the amount of noise in your sleeping area. Unplug your phone. Use earplugs if you need to. Use fans or recordings of soothing music or sounds (such as rain or waves) to help you relax and fall asleep.
  • Get regular exercise but not less than 4 hours before your bedtime.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night. Get up at the same time each morning, regardless of how well you slept. Do not take naps during the day.
  • Develop a bedtime routine and start it an hour before you want to fall asleep. Bedtime routines are designed to help you relax. For example, before bedtime, take a warm shower or bath, massage your feet with lotion, listen to soothing music or a tape-recorded story, read an inspirational book, drink a cup of noncaffeinated tea (such as chamomile) or warm milk, or have a small snack (such as half a turkey sandwich or peanut butter and crackers).
  • If you have not fallen asleep within 15 minutes after you go to bed, get up and do something for 30 minutes that you usually do not enjoy. Then try to go to sleep again. For example, read a difficult book or balance your checkbook.
  • Avoid taking nonprescription sleeping pills or using alcohol to help you sleep. They may slow you down the next day, cause you to wake up during the night, or interact with medicines you are taking.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything that might interfere with sleep. Do not drink alcohol or caffeine after 5 p.m. Do not eat foods that you know might upset your stomach. If you tend to wake up at night to go to the bathroom, drink only small amounts of liquids after 5 p.m.
  • Reduce or eliminate your use of substances containing nicotine, such as cigarettes.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 11, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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