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12 Tips to Avoid Daytime Sleepiness

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4. Gradually move to an earlier bedtime.

Another approach to getting into a consistent schedule is to try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights. Then stick with the last bedtime. Gradually adjusting your schedule like this usually works better than suddenly trying to go to sleep an hour earlier.

5. Set consistent, healthy mealtimes.

Regular mealtimes, not just regular sleep times, help regulate our circadian rhythms. Eating a healthy breakfast and lunch on time -- rather than grabbing a doughnut and coffee in the morning or a late sandwich on the run -- also prevents energy deficits during the day that will aggravate your sleepiness. Plan to finish eating meals two to three hours before bedtime.

6. Exercise.

Regular exercise (30 minutes a day on most days) offers multiple benefits for sleep. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, generally makes it easier to fall asleep and sleep more soundly.

Exercise also gives you more daytime energy and keeps your thinking sharp. And if you exercise outside in daylight, you get still more benefits. Sleep experts recommend 30 minutes of exposure to sunlight a day because daylight helps regulate our sleep patterns. 

7. De-clutter your schedule.

“If you don’t think you can allow seven or eight hours for sleep, then you need to look at your schedule and make some adjustments,” says Verceles. “Move some activities from nighttime to early evening or from early to late morning.” Try to eliminate tasks that aren’t really important. Getting enough sleep at night will help you function better during your remaining activities.

8. Don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy.

If you go to bed when you’re just tired, you probably won’t be able to fall asleep, Krakow says. “Distinguish between the feeling of sleepiness and being tired. Get into bed when you’re sleepy -- eyes droopy, you’re drowsy, you feel like you’re nodding off. It’s a very different kind of feeling.”

9. Don’t nap late in the day.

Late afternoon napping can make daytime sleepiness worse if because it can interfere with nighttime sleep.

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