Prevention techniques, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, learning how to manage stress, and cutting out bad habits can have a significant impact on promoting quality sleep. Follow these top tips to promote relaxation and combat insomnia.
Stick to your sleep schedule
It's important to stick to regular periods of wakefulness and sleep. When possible, try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try not to take naps during the day, and if a daytime nap is needed, keep it under 30 minutes in the early afternoon.
Don't stay in bed when you're not sleeping
Resist the urge to linger in bed if you wake up feeling rested. If you can't sleep, don't lie there staring at the ceiling for hours on end; instead, if it's been more than 15 minutes of sleeplessness, get out of bed and do something relaxing, such as meditation or reading, until you feel sleepy.
Try taking a warm bath or have your partner give you a massage before going to bed. You can also create a soothing bedtime ritual such as listening to soft music, doing gentle yoga, or reading. Acupuncture is also thought to help many people relax.
Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Keep the TV or computer in another room. Close the door when you go to sleep and run a fan (if you like) to help eliminate outside noises. Keep your bedroom cooler at night than in the day, and as dark as possible.
Work out during the day
Exercise for 20-30 minutes every day, five hours or more before bedtime. Regular exercise has many proven benefits on overall health, and is thought to relax the body and encourage a good night's sleep.
Avoid the sleep thieves
Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can all inhibit sleep. Caffeinated drinks, like coffee and soft drinks, are stimulants that can disrupt sleep. Avoid drinking coffee or any caffeine in the afternoon. Nicotine in tobacco is another stimulant that can inhibit sleep.
Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Alcohol is a sedative that may induce sleep initially, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and doesn't allow the body to fully rest.
Skip late-night snacks and meals
Maintain a healthy diet, and avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, which may cause heartburn and indigestion. These foods can be hard to digest, particularly when eaten late at night, and make it difficult to sleep.
A painful condition of any type can prevent sleep. Restless leg syndrome is a common culprit of insomnia, as is chronic pain. Make sure you talk to your doctor about any pain you are experiencing, and be sure any pain reliever you take is effective enough to let you sleep through the night. Also be aware of prescription and non-prescription pain-relievers that can keep you up at night. Many drugs have caffeine or other stimulants in them, which can cause insomnia.
Hide the time
You can set your alarm so you'll know when to get up, but otherwise hide the clocks in the bedroom. The less you know what time it is—particularly when you wake in the middle of night—the better you're likely to sleep.
Know what's causing your sleepless nights
In order to eliminate insomnia, it's important to determine whether or not an underlying issue or medical condition is causing the problem. Most cases of insomnia are a result of some other factor such as stress, mood disorders, or a medical condition. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any underlying conditions that may be interfering with your sleep. Many times when these conditions are successfully treated, sleep patterns return to normal.