Top Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Do you feel like you’ve been dragging all day today? Do you often feel tired during the day? There’s probably a very simple reason for that fatigue. You didn’t get enough sleep last night. It’s a chronic problem with an increasing number of people. And the effects of not getting enough sleep only multiply. For instance, how often have you had to cancel an engagement because you were just too darn tired? Or how many times have you had to put off playing a game with your kid because you didn’t have the energy? How often have you been too tired for sex? Now that’s tired!

The following are the top tips for getting more sleep. You don’t have to engage them all, feel free to pick and choose. Chances are, however, that the more of these tips you follow, the more sleep you’ll get. Andthe more sleep you get, the more…well, you know.

Yeah, it’s boring. Who really wants to stick to a schedule all day long. Well, it doesn’t have to be all day. But try getting up at the same time every day-including weekends and holidays-and going to bed at the same time every night. Nothing can help you find sleep better than your body’s internal clock kicking in. After only a few weeks, you’ll probably find yourself yawning as your sleep time nears even if you don’t feel particularly tired. The more closely you follow a nighttime routine, the better it works. Try to watch the same thing on TV every night like a syndicated rerun. Or try reading a really long novel that will take you a year to get through. It really works.

Part of that schedule should include NOT eating late. If possible, try to get your dinner done before 7:00 PM so that the digestive process can proceed and end before climbing into bed. This will allow you to get through all the distracting gastrointestinal problems that can interrupt your sleep. It will also give you enough time to bypass conditions such as heartburn, hiccups, acid reflux and the like which can keep you awake. You might even get to bed after a big meal without feeling bloated.

In addition to the intestinal problems, you also want to avoid the urinary problems. Nothing is more irritating than waking from a deep sleep with the urgent need to void the bladder. Well, there are some things more irritating, but most of those aren’t as easily avoidable as this one. Obviously, you shouldn’t be drinking Mountain Dew or coffee at night because of the caffeine problem, but avoiding all liquids altogether is advisable. Especially those who are subject to frequent urination should avoid liquids, but it’s really a good idea for everyone.

Exposing yourself to sunlight actually works to help you sleep, believe it or not. Current research indicates that our internal clocks depends in great deal upon exposure to sunlight. No surprise there since the entire sleep cycle is based upon the cycle of the sun. If you are having trouble sleeping, check how much sunlight you are exposed to each day. If you get up in the morning and get into the car or subway or bus and work inside a building lit almost exclusively by indoor lighting and then go straight home and never see the sun, guess what? You need to start taking an outdoor lunch. The elderly especially are subject to this problem. Just as too much exposure to the sun can be dangerous to your health, so can too little.

Exercising less than three hours before going to bed may seem like a good idea. After all, vigorous exercise can really tire you out, right? The only problem is that studies show late night exercise may result in quicker sleep, but not longer sleep. Instead, exercising vigorously earlier in the day can result in drowsiness right around bedtime and a longer, deeper sleep.

During sleep, your body’s temperature naturally drops slightly. That’s why you often get colder at night than you do during the day. This temperature drop is necessary for ensuring sleep so don’t fight it. Instead of turning up the heat on a cold night, cover yourself with an extra blanket. Another benefit of this is that if you do get hot during the night, you can simply kick off the covers instead of getting up and turning down the heater.

One of the worst things you can do during the night is getting up. At least, if you’re still sleepy. If you’ve got insomnia and just can’t get back to sleep, it’s probably better to go ahead and get up and do something constructive. But if you are sleepy and you happen to wake up, resist the urge to get a drink of water or fiddle with the thermometer. Unless something is going on that absolutely requires your getting up-like a barking dog or crying child-then do whatever it takes to stay in bed, prone, head on pillow. That’s the surest way back to slumber.

Huh? But just a minute ago, you said-I know. But tossing and turning never got anyone back to sleep. Stay in bed applies to having been asleep and waking up. If you are still tossing and turning and awake a half hour after going to bed, then get up and read or listen to soothing music. Or even watch television as long as it’s something you’ve either already seen or aren’t really interested in. Late night post-bedtime viewing is not the recommended time for watching a gripping mystery movie. Try to watching something where you already know the end or can at least make a good guess.

You should quit smoking anyway. Let’s face it, there is no practical reason on earth for you to smoke. It stains your teeth, it blackens your lung, it kills your heart and it’s putting big, big money in the pockets of corporate criminals who don’t give a crap about you. But it’s also a stimulant that works to keep you up at night, thereby creating a need to smoke more to deal with the stress of not being able to get to sleep. Just don’t smoke, especially before bedtime.

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