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Preventing Sleep Problems

In some cases, sleep problems are related to preventable health conditions, such as obesity. Addressing such conditions may help prevent sleep problems. For example, experts think that weight loss may help overweight people who have obstructive sleep apnea.

Other times, lifestyle modifications may be needed to prevent a sleep disorder from developing. For example, exercising and maintaining a healthy diet can help ward off sleep problems.

Recommended Related to Sleep Disorders

Surviving the Day After an All-Nighter

Pushing through the night to study, work, or respond to an emergency can feel downright heroic. You did what you had to do, against the odds. But once the adrenaline wears off and daylight comes, you may suddenly be a little unsteady on your feet. Surviving the day after an all-nighter can be more difficult than it was to stay awake in the first place. A night of sleep deprivation affects your brain -- how quickly you can react, how well you can pay attention, how you sort information or remember...

Read the Surviving the Day After an All-Nighter article > >

Other sleep problems can be avoided by practicing good sleep habits, called sleep hygiene. Below are some suggestions for better sleep:

  • Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Try not to take naps during the day, because naps may make you less sleepy at night.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol can cause waking in the night and interferes with sleep quality.
  • Get regular exercise. Try not to exercise close to bedtime, because it may stimulate you and make it hard to fall asleep. Experts suggest not exercising for at least three to four hours before the time you go to sleep.
  • Don't eat a heavy meal late in the day.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable. Be sure that it is dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a "white noise" machine to cover up the sounds.
  • Follow a routine to help you relax and wind down before sleep, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
  • Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep or sex.
  • If you can't fall asleep and don't feel drowsy, get up and read or do something that is not overly stimulating until you feel sleepy.
  • If you have trouble lying awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before you go to bed. This may help you to avoid focusing on those worries overnight.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on August 21, 2014

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