Better Sleep by Labor Day

WebMD tells you how to combat insomnia during the lazy, hazy days of summer -- and beyond.

From the WebMD Archives


Moving On to Boot Camp

If your sleep is still disturbed after completing the first part of the program, march on to part two: boot camp.

"Night by night, the 28-day hard-core regimented program walks you through what to do, from what time to go to bed to what to eat," Breus says. Throughout the program, you'll keep a sleep diary to record your choices and note the progress you make.

As you would imagine, week one covers the basics. On night one, for example, you'll start to figure out the right bedtime and wake time for you.

On night two, you'll develop a bedtime routine. "Key to this is a 'power-down' hour, in which activities such as using the computer and reading work material are prohibited. One trick so you don't forget to 'power down' is to set your alarm clock for one hour before you go to bed," he says.

On night three, you'll evaluate daytime habits and routines, such as alcohol and caffeine consumption, that can affect sleep, while night four calls for another look at the bedroom environment. Night five offers stretches and relaxation techniques you can use during your 'power-down' hour, while night six focuses on food. Meals that are high in carbs and low to medium in protein are good for sleep; heavy spices are a big loser at dinnertime.

Night seven covers the right time to exercise. A typical myth buster: Exercise at the end of the day is a bad idea. "This is not necessarily true, Breus says. "For many, exercise provides the perfect preamble for sleep."

From Better Sleep to Better Health

During week two, you'll evaluate what you have done during week one -- what works, what doesn't.

"Week three and four are for ingraining good habits," Breus says. The big action items during week three: Pinpointing the relaxation techniques that work best for you and practicing them on a regular basis and keeping a worry journal. "Any anxieties -- problems and solutions -- are written out, so you don't have to worry about them during the night," he explains.